There are the men who told me they loved me–and everyone in-between. Of course, there are my gay best friends, my non-gay best friend, and my non-gay dad. But they don’t count for this purpose since their love for me is purely on a friendship or father/daughter level.
On a romantic level, my four boyfriends loved me. Boyfriend #1 told me after a plutonic dinner as co-workers. He said it as if he was commenting on the steak. “I love you.” No expectations. No need for the words to echo back.
The subsequent two boyfriends said them begrudgingly. I’m sure I forced them with my immature antics. “My first boyfriend told me he loved me right away. Don’t you feel the same way?” Even if I forced them, at least they said it. I just wanted to be loved. I wanted them to love me.
I’m sure there are others. I can’t really recollect. Except I remember laughing when some guy told me he loved me after a few dates. “You’re ridiculous. How do you know you love me after a few dates?”
“I do. I feel it.”
I never returned his calls, yet here I am–many years later–getting engaged after a few months. Maybe the poor guy wasn’t so ridiculous after all.
I remember meeting Boyfriend #4 Dean (now fiance) at Amelie wine bar in Russian Hill. He was outgoing and funny–exactly the type of personality I meshed with. We ended the night with slices of pepperoni pizza. Orangey grease dripped down the wax paper. I didn’t give any credence to his promise to call me the next day. “Sure,” I shrugged. “Whatever. Call if you want.” It was a fun night. No expectations for the future.
I’d learned to shield myself from disappointment after a magical first date gone wrong at Florio on Fillmore. After walking side-by-side back to my car, I gushed, “So when are you going to call me again?”
His head dropped. “Catherine, sorry, I don’t think it’s going to work out.”
My cheeks flushed red in stunned surprise. I shoved my hand into my purse for the car key, threw myself into the driver seat, and cried, “Did that just fucking happen to me?”
There are the men who told me they loved me. Conversely, there are the men who told me in so many words that they did not.
Dean called the next morning, shocking me out of bed, but shocking me even more when he continued to call every day after that. And now we’re heading down the aisle a year from now: Saturday June 12, 2010. It’s his parents’ wedding anniversary and six days before my 35th birthday. We have a lot to celebrate.