I was watching something insipid on television a few nights ago. (It's hard to remember which stupid thing I was clearing off the DVR between sessions of homework.) But I remember watching these characters on a couple of shows, walking through their lives and hoping to fall in love. They'd meet their currently-ideal love interest in some less-than-ideal situation and visibly fight the thought that just maybe that was the person for them. They were all looking for magic but refused to admit when they found it.
I want magic.
I spent a glorious Saturday evening with Pandy (née Hot Pocket) this past weekend. After hours of dancing and laughing and eating and a little too much whipped cream, we settled into the quiet while our babies slept down the hall. Eventually the talk turned yet again to my love life, specifically about what I loved about each of the men who have impacted my life so dramatically.
"What do you want?" she asked. "Not what qualities you want in a man—what things? If you could make a wishlist, what would be on it?"
Pandy knows damn well I've written a couple of times about what I want—the affection, the attentiveness, the lack of addiction. But I know Pandy, and this was her Practical Magic moment of daring me to put my wishlist out there where Fate might get ahold of it and take her chance at offering me exactly what I want.
I started to think about it in terms of these prior relationships—DH, Absolem, Bounder, Katniss, Rex—that had offered me something good in their way but had still not managed to be good enough. Like thinking about what you want in your unborn child, I started to pick and choose from those men.
From DH, I would want the care he could provide. For all of his flaws, he was an exceptionally good, practical caregiver when I needed it. Whether stopping at the grocery store while I was busy with a baby boy or carefully doling out medication and clean bandages after surgery, he took really good care of me. Eventually I learned to care for myself, which was one of the many problems we were never able to resolve, but I would want that active, tangible concern. (Check for both Bounder and Katniss for doing this, as well, in their own ways and times.)
From Absolem, I would want the clarity of vision. He could peek readily through my façade and see me. It was impossible to hide my truths from him, and he never failed to tell me exactly what he saw—even if I didn't like it. Bounder was just as adept, though he often danced around sharing his thoughts. I would also want the fearlessness, the adventure for life, that I have only ever found in Absolem.
From Bounder, there is so much. He set the bar so high in so many ways, though he often let it clatter to the ground—sometimes abrading me with those collapsing expectations. The depth of emotion, both his own and felt with me. The strength and vulnerability that were intricately interdependent. The mischievous, crinkling eyes every time he smiled when I told him I loved him. The ease with which he could cry with me, for me, in front of me, and how he never, ever withheld my emotions even when they were more than he thought he could bear. How he would patiently and without recrimination listen as I unleashed my crazy, circuitous head and heart, but how I never had to actually say what I was thinking because he always just knew. And the kiss that could stop time and turn the seas to dust. That kiss that may never be topped.
From Katniss, the chivalry and the romance. The single red rose the first time we met, and the choice of a perfect book for Christmas. The stories he would weave for me. The way he could calm me with a single word, dropped at the exact, magical moment when I needed it most. The way he would watch me intently while I spoke, and the lullabies he would sing to me over the phone just before I fell asleep.
From Rex, the largess. Not just the physical size—though make no mistake that I loved the way his hugeness felt, wrapping me into a dainty package that didn't feel like it would break. How his hands dwarfed mine. But there was a largeness of character, of dynamic, that was simultaneously gentle and kind. The way he could make me laugh at anything and everything, but also how he could shut down my humming brain and quiet my overthinking with a look. In some ways he did outdo Bounder, and I was thankful to know the bars could be raised even further. And I have never been so immediately comfortable with a man as I was with him.
But my wishlist is missing the one trait that each of these men has in common: their ability to make me feel negligible. The practical, magical one will be there, no matter what. He will call me every day that he can, even if it's just to tell me he loves me and goodnight after a really long day. He will text me random thoughts and pictures and be thrilled that I message him regular love letters, equally romantic and raunchy. He will lie with me in the floor and the firelight, letting me sing whatever song I feel that night, while he strokes my hair gently and whispers to me that I am beautiful.
And he will be there in the middle of the night, when I wake cold and scared, afraid of what comes out of my dreams. He will sleep comfortably, soundly next to me. He will actively, happily love me, and he will fight Heaven and Hell to be with me. He will do what no one has ever been willing to do for me before: he will value me, openly and honestly, and remind me every day that I am worth his fight.
And in return, I will love him like no other. Every fiber of my being, every moment of soul and joy and heartache, every laugh and every tear, every angry word and every whisper of adulation in the dark. To fill in every crack, to give him strength to be vulnerable, safety to be dangerous, acceptance to be who he was meant to be.
Maybe it's foolish to wish these things. Maybe it's childish or naive to hope that I find what I want most, what I seek as doggedly as I have ever done anything.
And maybe it's magic.