We were standing in the middle of a ski shop. The ex was browsing through the aisles when the clerk came to me. "So, you ski?" he asked.
"Ah, no." I am accident prone and gravitationally challenged and have shit lungs, I thought. I don't ski.
"You board, then," he said.
My ex and I had been talking to this clerk before and it was very clear that we were there for ski stuff for the ex. I was just an accessory, a plus one. The person who held things when the ex passed them to me.
"No," I said. "I don't snow board either."
This irritated the clerk. "Well what do you DO all winter?" he asked, condescendingly, as though I barely qualified as human because I didn't strap anything to my feet and careen down steep mountainsides.
"I read, actually. A lot."
"You READ." He sniffed. "Whatever."
"Yeah," my ex said, finally coming over and standing next to the clerk. They smirked at each other. "I don't get it either."
For the record, a nearly perfect evening in my world involves warm socks, a comfy chair, a glass of wine, and a book.
A completely perfect evening involves all of those things while cuddled up to someone else. Said someone would also be reading.
Please note that in that relationship I had no perfect evenings.
Someone recently asked me if I had forgiven the ex and I realized that I forgave him a long time ago. It took me longer to forgive myself for tolerating a relationship that was so diminishing, where it was okay to mock me and the things that I am passionate about. However, the realization that yes, I forgive him and yes, I finally also forgive me made me think about the nature of love, and what it should look like.
It should look like support and appreciation. It shouldn't look like disdain. It shouldn't be all "let's explore everything you love and say everything I love is stupid."
It should be meeting someone where they are and loving them in that exact spot on the map of their life. It should not be looking at her as though she is a wax figure that you can mold into your idea of perfection.
If you love someone, then you give AND you take. You go to the ski store and then to a book store. You spend a day at the resort and some time in the lodge. It's not one or the other. It's both.
I get it now. When someone tells you they love you, they need to mean they love you -- the things you are AND the things you're not. The things you've been and the things you'll become. Your hopes, your fears, your successes, your defeats -- they need to love all of those things.
I got lucky, by the way. I met someone who tells me that he loves me, and when he does? He means it.
And now? I have many perfect evenings.
I hope that, however you frame a perfect evening, whatever that would look like for you? You have them as well.