The door opened and there she stood, my project: Julia.
She was in her late thirties now and far from being ready for love; sabotaging her own happiness as a coping method to manage the pain accumulated over years of destructive relationships.
“Hi,” I say, “My name’s Cupid.”
“Cupid?” she repeated, dumbstruck.
“Yea,” I point a finger backwards towards my wings, “Can I come in? It’s pretty cold out here and I’m not wearing any pants.”
“Of course, come in…please.” I could hear a hopeful note behind the surprise in her voice. “What are you doing here?”
As I follow her into her living room I see a table set for one. A candle’s flame flickered pitifully over her half eaten meal.
“Really? You have to ask?” The sarcasm came out without censor. I’ve seen this same setting too many times during my long career and, frankly, I was tired of feigning loving concern for people who can’t let go of the fantasy. But I could see by Julia’s confused look she was blinded by her illusion of love so I took a softer approach. “Listen, we both know I’ve given you many chances at love…many, many chances at love. Remember the rock star? That wasn’t as easy as it seemed.”
“Oh?” her eyes widened. I could tell this thought hadn’t occurred to her. They all think it’s their looks and charisma that draws people to them. People are so naive.
“Yes. You see, at first I tried to send over men that fit your personality…the good ones, I call them. I tried to find a match that would compliment your strengths and understand your weaknesses, but you found them ‘boring’. So I spiced up the selection. The young rebel, the shifty business owner, the coked-up car salesman, then I finally topped it off with the, afore-mentioned, rock star.”
Her mouth curled into a sly smile as she remembered her lovers.
“Oh, I see…you think it was all fun and games, then?” I challenged. “Well, look at you now…thirty-eight, bitter, sad, and alone on St. Valentine’s Day.”
Her brows furrowed together as tears welled up in her eyes. “Well, what am I supposed to do? Whenever I start to fall for a guy they blow me off. And the others…I can’t help it if I’m not drawn to someone, can I?”
“No…no, that’s a fact. But maybe you need to reevaluate what you’re doing in your relationships.”
“Do I really have to spell it out for you?”
“Well, you didn’t come here for tea, did you?” Her expression changed and I knew she wanted to get down to business.
“Ok, listen,” we sat down on opposites sides of the table. “There are four things you need to change.”
“Only four?” she let out a huff.
“Well, let’s start off small, shall we?”
She took a deep breath and nodded her agreement.
“First of all, you need to know that no one is perfect…” I held up a hand when I saw that she was about to object, “Don’t interrupt… Nobody is perfect, including you, and that’s ok. It’s our imperfections that make us interesting. Be open to people that aren’t exactly like you on the surface; get to know them before you brush them off.”
“Listen, if you want love you need to hear what I have to say. Okay?’
“Go on…” she relented.
“Don’t expect the fantasy. It’s not real. What is real is the fact that these guys really do want to make you happy but they’re guessing at it…mind reading doesn’t come naturally to them.”
“I don’t expect them to read my mind but I don’t want to spell it out for them either. They should have some sense of romance.”
“Yea, well, they don’t…or it’s different than yours. Don’t fault them for that, just accept their intentions and be grateful for the everyday love they do show you.”
“You know…asking how your day was, helping you with some chores, taking care of you when you’re sick. The stuff that really matters…the stuff a friend would do.”
“But I don’t want a friend. I have friends. I want a lover, a partner.”
“And that’s what you’ll get, if you are that for them.” I took her hand in my own, “You see, you must develop the trust that friends have before your desire can deepen into love.”
Her eyes stayed on our hands and I knew my words were making an impact. “Well, ok…I can work on that.”
“Shall I go on?”
“Drop all the games. Drop the hair flipping, the haughty attitude, the bitchiness…it’s not cute. It’s immature. It’s a bad habit you picked up in high school.”
“It used to work,” she countered.
“Is it working for you now?”
“No,” she whispered. “Alright..what else?”
I dropped her hand and in my most stern voice, said, “For God’s sake, Julia, you’ve got to stop sleeping with them so fast.”
“I don’t sleep with them too fast,” she stumbled over the speed of her words, “I’m not a slut, you know!”
“Of course, you’re not…you did wait for the concert to end before you screwed the rock star.”
“Why do you keep bringing him up?” anger pushed her words out.
“Because it’s his memory that’s tripping you up.”
“Well, he was pretty exciting.”
“Excitement is temporary. It’s true love that you’re looking for, my dear.”
Julia lowered her head, “I know…”
“Ok, then…” I checked my cell phone, “Well, I’ve got to go. It’s the busy season and I’m swamped until after June.” I stood, shaking my head, “Everyone wants to have a spring wedding nowadays.”
We walked to the front door in silence.
“Thanks for stopping by,” she said, opening the door wide.
“I hope you’ll take my advice, Julia,” I said as I twisted my body through the doorway. My wings are always so cumbersome in a human’s house.
“I will. I promise,” she murmured halfheartedly. I could tell she was in mourning for the loss of her childhood fantasy of love.
“Happy Valentines Day,” I offered sympathetically.
Anger flooded her face as she slammed the door shut.