A post by A Feminist on why we look for love.
I recently saw Ludacris in concert (I KNOW) at my prestigious Midwestern college, and he catered to the crowd by yelling things like, “Where my educated ladies at?! Where all my women who gonna get great jobs when they graduate?!” We loved it. I loved it. We are educated, professional, women and we’re living our lives in pursuit of a dream job, an opportunity to travel, a chance to make a difference. So why have a blog like this, and why even think about how many people I’ve slept with, or talk about romance at all? Why bother? Why do we even think about love or sex when we could be thinking about saving the world, or at least advancing our careers? Here’s a story.
When I was studying abroad in Paris, I met a beautiful man. His name was [censored], he had grown up in Guadalupe, was then studying law in Paris, and he tried to kiss me before I even knew his name. I, being the (adorably?) awkward person that I am, left him a Cape Cod postcard outside his door the next day, telling him my room number (and my name), and saying that I’d love to see him again. He called me, and I shivered at his gorgeous voice on the phone – “Ça va?”
I didn’t kiss him that night on the dance floor, in part because I was 19 and scared, in part because I didn’t want the girls I was with to think less of me, in part because that’s just not really what I do (arguably, at this point). But we kissed a few days later, and it was delightful. He assembled a cheese tasting for me – I wrote in my journal afterward that “he likes sweet white wine and mild cheese. Basically he’s 5.” We sat on his bed and talked for a long time, him laughing at me for my mispronunciations and limited vocabulary, and me retorting that he didn’t speak English at all, so at least I was somewhat ahead. I said “Je suis tombée amoureuse quand j’avais 16 ans” – I fell in love when I was sixteen – and he said “So young!” He was 27, much older than me, too much older, I eventually decided, and sixteen must have seemed absurdly young to him.
A few nights later he came to my room where I was sitting with a friend and we spoke for a few minutes by the door. After he left I was giddy with the memory of him. I couldn’t concentrate on my reading, and kept thinking of his smile, his voice, his hands, his full lips. My friend, who doesn’t pay much attention to men as a rule, was smiling in amusement and bemusement at me. I said, “I’m all a-twitter!” and she said drily, “I can see that.”
My friend isn’t much for judgment, and I know that she wanted me to be happy, but I suspect that she thought I was pretty silly for being so wound up in this person who I’d just met. For that matter, I thought I was pretty silly. I was still fairly new to the hooking-up world, and wasn’t totally sure what I was doing. She was outside it entirely and doubtless thought I was expending too much time and energy on something necessarily ephemeral.
I wrote in my diary at the time that our hookups were giggly and rough-and-tumble and just how I like them. My stumbling with the language, particularly in times of arousal and excitement, meant that I had to be extremely slow and clear with what I thought and what I wanted. He was incredibly respectful, even at the end when I told him that I didn’t think we should see each other anymore. He told me, “We’re both adults, you don’t have to avoid me, just tell me.” It was enlightening. There were no assumptions about what we would do, and thinking about him gave me a little frisson of happiness all day.
And that’s why we have boyfriends and hookups. Of course they’re also wonderful emotional supports and other things, but it’s that shiver of delight when we hear their voices, that anxious waiting for them to arrive, that wanting to touch them more than do anything else, including homework and real work, that makes it addictive. We don’t need men. We want them.