The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

At the Foot of the Pedestal

The Pale Complexion of True Love

Lu

At first, she rejected me because I couldn’t give her what she wanted. Because I loved her, I generously gave her what I could. Eventually she found value in that. And the more she valued it, the more I gave it to her. The more I gave it to her, the more she loved me. It surprised her, in the end, how much she loved me.

Over the years, thinking back, she would laugh at how naïve and foolish she was to place more value on the things that other men had offered her.

“Imagine my life if I’d married him!” she would say from time to time, when she had news of one of her old boyfriends. There was a very rich young man she had dated for nearly a year. He could have given her any material thing she wanted. One day, she read a story in the paper that he’d been sentenced to prison for corruption.

Another man had been extraordinarily handsome. She described how he’d made her weak with desire.   One afternoon, after we’d been together for many years, she saw him on the street. She was shocked at how unattractive he’d become. Part of that might have been objective truth – she said he’d become fat and older-looking than his years – but I like to think most of that was her own perception. She loved me, and so to her, I was more handsome than anyone. I was always grateful to know that she still felt she’d made the right choice by marrying me.

When we first came into each other’s circle, through friends, she didn’t take me seriously.   I was like an annoying fly, buzzing around her. She paid me little mind.   I asked her out all the time, but she brushed me away and laughed, as if I couldn’t possibly be serious.

I finally caught her in a moment of weakness, or perhaps during a period of sadness and self-doubt. To my complete joy, she agreed to go out with me.

She was everything I was not: confident, popular, smart, beautiful. I wanted to consume her whole, in order to possess these qualities, too. I wanted desperately for her to take me seriously, because that would mean I was worthy of being loved.   I wanted to be the one to make her happy.

I never doubted that I loved her. It was only much later that I understood what I felt in the beginning was not really love.   Love came later, after our relationship found equilibrium.   This is not to say I loved her less, only that finally she loved me as much.

When we began, she held all the emotional power. Over time, we healed each other in equal measure. She could no more live without me than I without her. The reasons we needed each other grew more complex, and those needs were always satisfied.

What would have become of us if I’d been content to just grovel at the foot of the pedestal I’d put her upon? And where would she have been if she’d just accepted my adoration without once breaching her carefully constructed façade?

It was only when we trusted enough to show each other our fragility that we really started to love. Love is achieved only with trust; trust is achieved only by risk.

Sometimes what you think you want is not really what you need.   As happens often with true love, you don’t know what you need until the right person gives it you.

 

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