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An Abundant Lack of Expectations

Screen shot 2014-12-02 at 1.45.45 PMOver pints of Racer 5 ordered to the upturned noses of Mission bar keeps, my friend Sean Allen pulled me through some of the depths of his decade long love story.

Someone else got her pregnant, he said in his half Southern drawl, half French lilt. And she told me while she didn’t love him, she wasn’t sure she loved me, either. 

But? I asked, resting my knees against his under the bar.

But I loved her. And if I wasn’t what she wanted in that moment, I was willing to let that be as it may. I wanted what was best for her, regardless of what that meant for me. 

So many people get angry when truths come out. It’s why some of us (ahem *raises hand*) squash reality down. Sean Allen’s response covered me in gooseflesh for two reasons.

First, is the story of who we’ll call Miles. A daydreamer who suggested the fantastic on a regular basis, he also held a wildly steady and successful job. We were dating-lite, as most of our short-lived courtship took place through lines of text. Sweet dreams, sweet girl, he’d send across the hours between us. The three times we saw each other in person, he reminded me of Sam in Benny and Joon – perhaps Sam-lite would be a better term, but they moved similarly, with an air that everything around them blossoming from their eyeballs.

Miles dropped everything to talk me down from a panic attack. He drove 45 minutes one way just to spent 45 minutes with me on a break. He promised me blanket forts if I ever came to his house. He bought me a rock crystal lamp on a whim, and had about $100 of gourmet popcorn seeds shipped to my house under a pseudonym after we both confessed what we wished our middle names were. Along with Alice in Wonderland quotes and great photo texts, it was almost as though he’d read the Alicia Playbook.

Side note: had we been on the road, Megan would have pointed her camera at me and asked me how I felt.

“He’s nice,” I’d have said.

“No Alicia, he’s making you his hobby,” she’d have replied for the 15th time over the course of 30 dates. “He’s so willing to be in your life he’ll forget his own. You’ll resent him. You’ve played this relationship over and over already.”

I felt like Miles was offering me everything. A Jared-in-Labyrinth deal, minus the leggings and cod piece. Except, like Jared, Miles did want something.

I’m sorry, I texted him from the corner of my couch. A photo out of context on social media had him mad. Disappointed. Angry. With every right, as indeed in the image I was on a date – not that he asked me. I’m sorry if you were surprised by the photo; yes, I am casually dating you as well as other people, I continued.

My intent is not to make you feel bad, but this how nice guys become jaded and bitter, he replied. And then contradicted that statement with. It’s not that I expected you were all mine, but seeing that photo with no heads up – that hurt. 

Sean Allen’s ability to release expectations into the wild allowed him to truly love unconditionally. And Miles’ inability to do made it clear that much as he tried, he probably wouldn’t (at least, not me). How differently chips may have fallen had another approach been taken.

The second reason is about me. It’s hard not to have idealism and hopefulness intersect with expectations when it comes to love. I’ve learned, slowly, to retract expectationary claws in relationships as in the past, this is something I’ve struggled with. On one hand, I’m incapable of having expectations when it comes to offering my love. Yet, I’m also incapable of believing there aren’t expectations placed upon me when anyone has said I love you, or even offered the possibility of those words.

How does one hold those two things together? Loving unconditionally, yet not believing in unconditional love? Loving without expectation on either end.

Therein (or thereout) lies what possibly love – real love – is. Loving without expectation on either end.

– – –

After writing this, I’m reminded of the times I’ve dated people who took me exactly as I am. “You be you,” one said. Another loved me fearless enough to offer forgiveness and understanding in a situation not quite like Sean Allen’s, but not entirely unlike it. And for them, and others, I am thankful.


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