“Do you still love her?” she asked, as we sat a wall away from the bar where I’d taken the subject of the discussion on the night we’d met.
Two months earlier, and this question would have been a problem. I may have hedged, dodged, or found some other way to be elusive or evasive. But that was then. Here, now, the path that led to us grabbing these drinks on this night began with her texting me for advice on the new guy, with whom she was clearly quite smitten. “He’s going to break my heart,” she had confessed earlier, so I could be equally honest.
“Yeah, I am,” I admitted, before continuing, explaining. “Here’s the thing: I’ve never fallen out of love with anyone.”
She understood and felt similarly: Love, once established, has a way of persevering through fights and breakups and sociopathic rampages. Love outlasts the bad things, and once those wounds have healed, scarred over, or perhaps required amputation, it still remains.
And that’s a problem.
“I know you don’t believe in soulmates,” the Math Guy sighed at me from across our coffees, using a word I most certainly hadn’t. “You’re smarter than that.”
The irony was palpable. He, six weeks from wedding, chiding me for my enduring feelings towards a former flame. He was right, in the literal sense—I don’t believe in soulmates—but while I conceded the point, the conversation stuck with me, nagging for some time.
Soulmates are a great idea in theory, if you’re the kind of person who believes in God and a grand plan and have never read xkcd’s thoughts on the matter. The Math Guy and I have always been far more empirical than that, though. Of course I don’t believe in soulmates. Soulmates can’t possibly exist.
The universe is neither symmetrical nor fair.
What I believe in is what he taught: Math. Statistics. Evidence. And experience tells me that, while perfection doesn’t exist, there is always a line of best fit. For every person, there must be another person who’s the best possible match, but what that means differs for everyone. Some people are the best possible match for dozens, hundreds, perhaps even millions of others.
Some aren’t the best match for anyone.
And it’s not symmetrical. It’s not even, and it’s not just in any way. For some people out there, the greatest possible partner they’ll ever meet won’t even give them the time of day.
They might be the lucky ones.
A few weeks ago, I was walking down the street when I saw a familiar sight: A stunningly gorgeous woman walking with a man who I could tell at a glance was likely a fan of MMA, mainly because of all the head trauma involved. My first thought was the same as it’s always been—Why would she want to be with him?—but a split-second later, an epiphany struck.
If she was interested in him, she was probably just as horrible. At the very least, it’s unlikely that she and I would have had enough in common to ever hit it off. Because she has a personality beneath those good looks, and it’s led her like him.
Days after my 32nd birthday, I realized that all those women I’d pined after in my youth were never going to work anyway. For so many of my formative years, I convinced myself that if the women I liked gave me a chance instead of the douchebags they were with, they’d like me so much more. It never occurred to me that, if they gave me that chance, I might not like them.
Last Saturday morning, I awoke from a nightmare about running into an ex while walking through an unfamiliar (and nonexistent) QFC. Even as I awoke, my day was ruined.
Yesterday, on my way to a friend’s birthday party, I stopped for cupcakes at a QFC where I’d only been once before, and spent the whole time in a state of utter terror.
She always did like zombies.