My Cheatin' Heart

When love comes knocking, do you answer the door?

| March / April 2006

Let's just get this out in the open.

I was 14 and madly in love for the first time. He was 21. He made me suddenly, unaccustomedly beautiful with his kisses and mix tapes. During the year of elation and longing, he never mentioned that he had a girlfriend who lived across the street. A serious girl. A girl his age. A girl he loved. Unlike inappropriate, high school, secret me.

The next time, I was 15 and visiting a friend at college. It was a friend's friend's boyfriend who looked like Jim Morrison and wore leather pants and burned candles and incense. She was at work and I wanted him to touch me. She found out. I don't know what happened after that.

I was 19 and he was my boyfriend's archrival. I was 20 and it was my lover's girlfriend and we had to lie because otherwise he always wanted to watch. I was 24 and her girlfriend knew about it but then changed her mind about the open relationship. We saw each other anyway. I was 30 when we met -- we wanted each other but were committed to other people; the way we look at each other still scorches the walls. I turned thirtysomething and pointedly wasn't invited to a funeral/a wedding/a baby shower because of a rumor.

I am a few years older now and I know this: That there are tastes of mouths I could not have lived without; that there are times I've pretended it was just about the sex because I couldn't stand the way my heart was about to burst with happiness and awe and I couldn't be that vulnerable, not again, not with this one. Waiting to have someone's stolen seconds can burn you alive, and there is nothing more frightening than being willing to take this free fall. It is not as simple as we were always promised. Love -- at least the pair-bonded, prescribed love -- does not conquer all. It does not conquer desire.

Arrow, meet heart. Apple, meet Eve.