Have you ever read this column on NYT called “Modern Love”? They have a podcast too. And now a short series on Amazon Prime too. It’s short stories of love, in all its glory and all its forms, some familiar, some not. I love Modern love, in all its forms - the column, podcast and the series. I love the illustrations on the column by Brian Rea even better. Anyway, I happened to watch the TV series yesterday and it made me realise how I’d forgotten what it felt like to fall in love.
I’ve been with my husband for a decade now, and I can count the number of times I’ve fallen in love with him on my fingers.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love, adore and respect the man. I enjoy the company of this man much much more than any other. But when you live in a steady state like the way we do, you seldom pause to put your ears down on the ground under your feet to hear the soft hum of love, trepidation, fear, admiration and gratitude for being blessed with someone’s company through life. It’s usually just filled with pointless conversations or logistics, and when you glance at it from thirty thousand miles away, it feels like a large fuzzy ball of wool that’s been wound tightly around something precious, that no one can see, not even you.
But it’s not just that, I think I’ve stabbed romance in the face a thousand times over through checklists and filters, that we just can’t seem to get rid of. We’ve convinced ourselves that we can engineer love as long as there’s a filter for height, weight, salary, education or some other bourgeois like that.
I am guilty of feeding this monster too, but sometimes, just sometimes, why is it so hard for us to let go, and give ourselves a chance to fall in love?
Because falling in love is damn fucking hard.
I know someone who comes as a breathe of fresh-air, and restores my faith in wanting to fall in love. She is someone whose first real date I helped orchestrate. I remember telling her random things about the boy I was to send her on a date with because I couldn’t justify my hunch. It was just a feeling. I had nothing important to tell her about him because she didn’t have no checklists or filters. She had no clue what to expect, the perfect recipe to fall in love you would think. They might have actually, but may be it wasn’t meant to be.
So, what do we do next? Learn from mistakes, right? Whose mistakes, I don’t know. We make ourselves believe that something needs fixing. So we take a big butcher knife and stab the shit out of the romantic in us and let the rationale person take over.
We stand still staring at our bleeding hearts, and then look down at our phones, and swipe left again because that’s how badly we want to fall in love.
Today, I have a story to share. A story that belongs to a bleeding warrior, my bleeding warrior, whose first real date I helped orchestrate. She won’t give up on the idea of love and she can’t be bothered to engineer it either. No, she won’t make a check-list, but will continue to be on the prowl for her “dabba fellow”. No, she’s not choosy. She wants to fall in love, and won’t give up even if it takes 50 dates, although she is currently on temporary bed rest due to fatigue. This week, she is celebrating her 25th battle with love, and this story is everything about that. So.. read away.
25 is not the charm.
Earlier this week, I was talking to my friend over the phone and coughing profusely and telling her about my Bharath matrimony date for the evening. After figuring out that I wasn't particularly interested in the person I was meeting, she asked me, "You are unwell and don't seem too interested. Why are you doing this ?"
I paused and then told her I was dreaming about the chai since morning, and it was exactly what I need to nurse my cold and cough. That's almost how mechanical my dates have become.
My friend laughed till I told her that I was tired of hearing her laugh. If not anything, my dates are a constant source of entertainment for my friends, family and colleagues.
Today is a landmark of sorts in my dating life and I am wondering what the best way to celebrate it would be. The boy I went on date with today - is the 25th man I've met in the last two years. While I pick some of these men after endlessly swiping left and right on dating apps, I have also been on dates 'set up' by my parents. Their finds of course are handpicked from the world's greatest social network - Bharath matrimony.
Over the years, my enthusiasm to go on dates has slowly faded. While initially, I would meticulously plan my dates, pick a nice place and ensure that if not anything, we could have an evening of interesting conversation. I would also carefully chose my outfits, put on an extra coat of lipstick, spray half a bottle of perfume and ensure that I was excited about the date.
25 men later, I now just ensure that my messy hair is in place. My reasons for getting excited are mostly because of the interesting items on the menu at the restaurant where we are meeting or the steaming cup of chai. My bubble which had unreasonable expectations or romanticised notions of love has slowly burst.
Sometimes the frivolousness of how many of these dates work, irks me. But slowly, I think I am able to make peace with it.
But wait, this is not a sob story. I have enjoyed many of these dates. If not for these dates I would have not know where the best dosa in town is or mastered the art of bowling. I've enjoyed the long walks in Lalbagh, learnt a thing or two about fancy wines and discovered that the 'species' of software engineers are not so bad after all.
I try and tell myself before every date that even (though) I don't exactly connect with the person, I can learn something from my date or discover something more about myself. If both fail, then I atleast have an entertaining story to narrate.
Each time I step out on a date, my friends remind me of how I should stop being pricey or my family tells me it's okay to "settle". There have been times when my family tells me it would have been easier if I fell in love with someone at college. But I wouldn't have this any other way.
Each of these dates have helped me introspect and realise things that are important and non-negotiable to me. So I don't think I am in the mood to"settle".
But tonight, I am celebrating with a bowl of hot and sour soup to nurse my cold. But later this week, I will treat myself to a nice pedicure. A colleague has promised to cook for me and another friend said she will take me for drinks and dessert. So looks like I am enjoying the perks of these dates.
If this story feels all too familiar, I’ll probably let you in on a secret that I wouldn’t tell anyone out loud. But wait, even if I did, who would believe me?
Love usually comes and finds you when you’re not looking.
But you’ve got to do your bit of letting love know that you are available. So, if you’ve been hiding behind filters, come out. Come out, now. Let love sting you a little bit. It hurts, but leaves behind scars worth remembering. I promise!