Some of you may know I was dating a girl named Cynthia. I didn't much talk about her around here, because after having poured my heart out over every girl I was so much as remotely interested in for a while, I just stopped talking about girls in LiveJournal. I'd always go back six months later and feel disgusted or embarrased or sad. And really, aside for a couple of back-patting "Good on ya!"s, there isn't much reason to let everyone know I've got a new girlfriend, unless something noteworthy happens.
Well, something noteworthy happened.
Those of you who know of Cynthia also probably know that I've got a few years on her in terms of age, and by "a few" I mean "like, eight or so". Which wouldn't be a problem, except that her age puts her very narrowly in that "still living at home with mum and da and has not yet finished high school" category wherein one must still be accountable to one's parents for their everyday dealings. Obviously, I felt some trepidation about dating a girl so young. But after having recently met a couple of girls my own age who were borderline functional and had all the intellectual depth and sharpness of a sack of wet hair, I decided that who Cynthia was - a smart, beautiful, interesting, tasteful, sharp, good-hearted, sweet - was more important than what she was - seventeen. Cynthia insisted on keeping her involvement with me a secret from her parents, for fear that they wouldn't accept the relationship. This is something that had caused me a considerable amount of unease from the beginning, but I also reckoned it wasn't my place to tell her how to deal with her parents. So we went on like this for the last few months, doing mostly a whole lot of talking on the phone and not a whole lot else, chiefly as she lives in Delaware, which is a pretty rough six-hour drive from where I live. I visited her a couple times, mostly just to spend time with her. To give you an idea of how my impropriety could have been acted upon, my roommate was with me the bulk of the time. Mostly she and I just talked, and it was enough. We fell in love.
But as I knew in my gut would happen eventually, we were found out, and the catastrophe that followed has left me broken. Obviously, Cyn's parents didn't look favorably upon our pairing, to the extent that they forced her to break things off with me and threatened me with legal action. I'm not going to go into details about that, but suffice it to say such a threat is dubious but nevertheless frightening. If you want to discuss the matter, please do so over email or phone; and yes, I've already consulted an attorney on the matter. The order I was given was to back off, which, in the interest of not making Cynthia's life any more problematic than it already is and ensuring I remain ubiquitous enough to not seem as though I am being incompliant, I have done. I don't suppose I'm much good to anybody tied up in a morass of legislation, least of all myself. So, having been called by Cynthia at work and then being chided by her mother as a sexual predator and having my family insulted, I now spend my time futilly attempting to keep myself occupied and my mind busy. Because every time I think of her it's like a knife twisting in my heart.
I've had messy breakups before, but this is an altogether different breed of beast. Serves me right? Maybe. I genuinely don't understand the hangup over the age disparity. My parents are thirteen years apart. My sister has dated men older than me. Neither of them seem particularly poorly-adjusted for it, nor have any of the women I've known who have dated older men, many of whom are still with those older men. I spent a lot of time before this happened in a state of conscience crisis, quizzing women of every age as to the moral or ethical rectitude of dating a girl who'd not yet graduated high school. Nobody offered condemnation. The consensus seems to be that seventeen isn't all that different from eighteen in terms of maturity. I know the experience must be different for me, but I don't recall any great difference between seventeen and eighteen, either. To be honest, I don't remember all that much difference between twenty and twenty-five. Spending that year as the IA coordinator, firing men older than my father, showed me that there really is no such thing as a "grown-up"; we really are all just making this shit up as we go along. As Henry Rollins pointed out, we never so much become men as overweight and balding boys who have become adept at shouldering responsibility. Maturity is relative to the individual, not to age. Obviously age plays a factor through one's mid- to late teens, but once a person becomes self-aware, their personal development is largely a matter of personal efficacy. And despite what her parents seem to think, Cynthia isn't immature or childish. I guess it's especially hard for parents to come to that realization. It would be for me, in their place.
A lot of this just confuses me. To call me a pedophile must have been a reactionary expletive, because it's clearly absurd. In terms of sexual development, Cynthia is physically no more a child than my own mother. She doesn't have the body of a child. And to say that I took advantage of her or somehow tricked her into a relationship is a pretty serious insult to her: effectively, it's saying she's too stupid to know when she's being manipulated. She isn't. She doesn't have the mind of a child, either. This whole reactionary debacle also conveniently overlooks the fact that if I'm a sexual predator, I must be the most inefficient and ineffective one who ever lived: If my goal was to sleep with a teenager, you'd think I could put a little effort into finding one closer than four hundred miles away. Does nothing more than lust really give a man cause to spend twelve hours in a crappy pickup and spend money he doesn't have for a four-hour date with a girl who might let him slide into second? If all I was after was sex, I would be pretty much the biggest jackass on the planet. That aside, I must be a unique kind of predator, insofar as most aren't willing to abide his prey when she insists on remaining a virgin until her wedding day. Most, you know, predators are manipulative assholes who try to wear a person down until they break. Most of them would not reply with "That's great, because I want to marry you."
And I do want to marry her, damn it all. That's the fuck of it. I'm in love with her. I was committed to her. I was ready to devote my life to her. I really, truly wanted to belong to her. I am in no way kidding. I was prepared to stick with this girl. Now, I haven't even spoken to her for weeks. I won't even have a chance for another seven months. And who knows what could happen between now and then? She could easily move on. Even if she doesn't, there's no guarantee she'll want me down the road. Even if she does, there's no guarantee we can make it work.
She was exactly what I wanted in life. And no, I'm not interested in looking for another "fish" or trying to "heal" and try again. I don't want to try again. I'm sick of trying. I'm sick of failing. Am I too young to be saying this? Maybe. But loving somebody like we loved each other is rare, and in a world this rotten and mean, to forbid two people who love each other from being together over a matter of age is nothing short of tragedy. And right now, if I can't have her, I don't really much want anybody at all. I'm in love with her alone. And if this isn't love, then no man who has ever lived has ever known love.