I hate the word unrequited, because we assume it to mean that there is only one person in love, and the other person is indifferent or even ignorant of that love. We use the term to cover almost any relationship that does not come to fruition: from stalker-like crushes on celebrities, to unequal love affairs, to love that is not actively returned but is still felt on both sides.
Cricket has had a few unrequited loves in her life. Usually with cats. Cats are not sure about Cricket, with her fast moving feet and her high pitched bark, but that doesn’t mean that the cats were never interested in her; they preferred to lurk and watch her from a distance.
Butterfly is less intimidating, and more approachable, but as yet she has not shown any persistent interest in any particular dog, or animal, other than her sister. Cricket only pretends indifference to Butterfly. At the very least, she loves having access to a Scent-O-Pee dispenser at all hours of the day and night.
I used to watch Hugh Grant movies, and a friend told me, you know, life is not really like a romantic comedy. And I said, of course I know that – but maybe I didn’t. I knew that Hugh Grant was not like the characters he played, but I figured someone must be, for the script to be written in the first place. I may have too much faith in my fellow writers.
I’ve had my share of crushes on TV characters, but most of my unrequited loves have been more complicated in one way or another, and yet still, finally, unrealized. I often feel like I’m pressing my nose up against the glass at a department store window, to stare at all of the things I can’t have.
The dogs are my experiment in love requited, because they really do love me as much as I love them (even if they can be moody and need their own space sometimes). They are my lesson in the routines of love: the gifts given whether you’re in the mood or not, tasks accomplished and needs met even if I feel resentful about it. And I’ve found that I’m pretty good with all of this, and I miss them when they’re at the groomer for a few hours, and I’m happy to see their smiling faces each time I come home. I learned a lot about the dailiness of love from Mom: that love is action as well as feeling, and if you love someone, you take care of them, even if they are annoying you at this moment (I can be very annoying).
I’ve learned about how to invest in love from writing, because I invest in it every day, even when weeks go by without inspiration, or years without external signs of success. I feel the security of making that daily investment. But romantic love – I don’t know how to build that or even to seek it out in a productive way. My parents’ marriage was scary, and maybe that’s what I expect romantic love to turn into, no matter how it begins.
I’m tired of seeing everything I do as pathological, even when it is, actually, pathological. The thing about unrequited love, is that there is an endless sense of possibility. Something exciting is always around the corner, even if it never actually arrives.