A few years ago, I was lounging on a yacht in the Virgin Islands with the man I was sure I was supposed to marry. We were in the midst of a rare moment of intimacy when I smiled at him, fully captivated by his charm. We locked eyes and I longed for him to whisper in my ear something tender and romantic. Then he started talking about hamburgers.
From the moment we met, the stubborn Taurus in me just couldn't see us any way but together. I was sure I had dated half of Manhattan by the time we were set up, and something about him was brilliantly different. After our blind date, he walked me home and told me I was lovely. His charm was palpable, and it grabbed me with the same kind of force I remembered coming under the spell of back in high school, when I met my first love. I didn't want to let this one go. He had a big heart and a strong, handsome presence. I hadn't been excited about anyone in years. In fact, I was a burned-out dater who had lost hope of love.
The situation was perfect. We both wanted to be bi-coastal and shared a love for travel. He likes sports, I like sports. We are both tall. We share a deep appreciation for fine spa services. I could have meaningful conversations with him that other men just didn't seem grown up enough to participate in. I was crazy about him.
I was so sure we were meant to be that I turned a blind eye to his bad habit of casually making plans with me, or saying he would do things that never materialized. I made excuses for it because we lived across the country from one another, and when we did actually spend time together it was more fun than I had with any other male prospects. The fun made me forget the rollercoaster of disappointment I had chosen to board, until I was sitting in the front seat again with my heart aching. Even so, he continued to give me just enough to keep me chasing the fantasy that was us.
After deporting the yacht and returning to our respective coasts, he vanished. I didn't bother calling. I knew when I left him standing there at JFK that ten consecutive days with one woman had made him uncomfortable. Valentine's Day came and went without a peep from him. When the email I had been expecting finally came, explaining to me that a commitment from him wasn't in the cards, I was equally livid and heartbroken. I was angry at my wiser self for not listening to it's voice when it piped up and told me this would happen, and I was angry at him for being so closed off and frigid. He didn't even have the decency to call. And I hadn't even asked him for a commitment! I wanted to hate him. I wanted to cause him deep pain and make him sorry.
Instead, I ran off to India. I had to disappear for a while and get myself together. I know what you're thinking, but it was before the whole Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon, and the trip served it's purpose and then some. In the foothills of the Himalayas, at the source of the Holy River Ganga, I experienced just what I needed -- a divine intervention.
I met a yogi in orange robes, and he saw through me and my "American armor" as he called it, before I even had the chance to blink. He was a funny little man, and I could see beyond his modest appearance that he had lived a full life. He was wise and intuitive, and he sensed my heart was weary. I wondered if heartbreak was written all over my face.
Over the next few weeks, the yogi would pop up behind me at the chai shop or as I was running off to work my shift in the ashram kitchen, and whisper little statements of enlightenment in my ear. Initially, I found him to be a pest. He found all of my self-involved pouting to be humorous, and made it especially hard for me to feel bad for myself -- which is all I felt like doing. I told him my sob story about being a jaded woman before meeting Handsome back in America, and how upset I was that my fantasy of us wasn't coming to fruition.
I finally expected to get some sympathy. Instead, he laughed at me through his crooked teeth, and as if he was about to tell me the secret to life, declared that my handsome American had not done me wrong, he had made me a gift! A gift? Seriously? I wanted to strangle him.
He went on to tell me how he had once fallen for a woman who was a caged bird like me. She had lost all faith in love, but for him she opened her door. They shared a deeply passionate and ecstasy-filled love affair.
Then, with a tinge of sadness in his voice, he told me they finally reached the highest levels of love in all areas, and it was time to go their separate ways. I understood this to mean that there was some sort of a wedge in the relationship that affirmed it could not last forever, despite their deep adoration for one another. I could tell it was painful for him, but he continued telling me the story.
A short time later, he was in town and he met a man he knew would be perfect for her now that her eyes were open to love again. The yogi secretly arranged from afar for them to meet, and they married and had a family. " You see, I made that man a gift," he giggled again.
I could tell he was genuinely happy for them, and I knew he was also trying to tell me that Handsome had done me a favor by igniting the fire in my heart again, even if he wasn't the one who belonged with me.
A few weeks later I returned to New York a new woman. I had regained my confidence and power in India. Handsome must have sensed it, as he contacted me the day after I returned. Feeling stronger than ever, I decided to see him. I wish I could lie and say I wasn't attracted to him anymore, but I still wanted him to say those things I always wanted to hear. However, I now saw so clearly what I hadn't wanted to before -- he was in my life to make me a gift, not to marry me.
The imminent disillusion of our dating arrangement pained me, and we did the push-pull cycle for years. He invited me to Paris -- I said no even though I wanted to go. The next fall, I invited him to Paris -- he said no. We still shared fun-filled getaways here and there, but his charming powers over me started to fade when I finally got bored with this wall we always hit when I wanted something more meaningful than superficial fantasy weekends. When I expressed this, he always ran away. I thought maybe -- like the yogi and his lady -- we too had reached the highest levels of love in our relationship and it was finally time to go our separate ways before resentments brewed.
I didn't always act with the compassion of a yogi, but I tried my best. I finally cut the cord on our relationship a better woman. My relationship with Handsome taught me how to be vulnerable, loving and feminine -- qualities which my next partner would treasure. He also taught me that I want a man who is steadfast in love, strong and consistent.
A short time later, I arrived at the place the yogi said I would. I met a man I love and who embodied the qualities I learned I need from a partner, and I became his gift.