Scientists estimate that falling in love takes about a fifth of a second and elicits the same euphoric feeling as cocaine. I’ve never done drugs so don’t know if the cocaine analogy holds, but I think they have the timing about right. But the euphoria, oh the euphoria…especially when it’s grounded in certainty, when there are no games or guesses…is pure magic.
When you’re in that first grip of love you feel wise to the point of self-righteousness. All the heartache of the past makes sense—of course it does, because it brought you to this pure, true, untouchable love. It brought you to your one, who is…a bong-sized exhale.
You take your first inhale as a “we” and you understand why you had to suffer pain and loneliness. You are now ready to tackle life with your soulmate. You are experiencing something “special,” something “divine,” something the rest of the world has probably never tasted, at least not so sweetly.
I wonder…is it our brains or our hearts that trick us? That make excuses for the red flags, that let us fall so deeply and so quickly. Science says the culprit is our brains; neurotransmitters and hormones work synergistically to create a cloud of delusion that makes us do silly things like say I love you after 2 weeks of dating and move in with an emotionally manipulative partner after 2 months. But I’m getting ahead of myself…why skip to the drama when I have a good month of bliss to soak up?
There is no hyperbole present in my declaration that my first month with Nightingale was the best of my life. The specifics are blurry…the feelings still vivid.
I am a firm believer that the man sets the tone of the relationship and Nightingale set it perfectly. Nightingale was wonderful at communication. A night never passed when I didn’t get a “sweet dreams.” I have a strong need to know, and Nightingale always let me know…what he was doing, how his day was, how he was feeling…I’d never felt safer, before or since.
There was no guessing how Nightingale felt about me.
There was the night he came over with a bag full of goodies.
He pulls out a beautiful white orchid in a blue vase—
“Because I remember you said you need more blue in your life…”
Followed by two stickers that read, “Life is Good”—
“Because sometimes we need to be reminded…”
And then a money tree in another blue vase—
“I was going to give you these one date at a time, but I’m just too excited so I’m doing it all at once…”
Two oversized shirts from a gig he played in San Jose. This time I interject—
“I can sleep in them and think of you…”
And a gorgeous trinket box in the shape of an old fashioned movie projector—
“Because you’re a star…”
And then the look in his eyes as overwhelm sinks in and he cannot handle the fullness of his emotions.
“I’ve never felt this much, this soon for anyone,” he says. (Little-boy eyes full of fear are sometimes endearing in grown men when you know you are the cause.) I wrap my legs around him and scoot closer.
“Don’t worry,” I say. “We are going to have…So. Much. Fun together.”
“How do you know?”
“I just know.”
“I feel it.” And then a kiss. “Enjoy the ride.”
Then there was the pride he’d exude whenever he introduced me. The look in his eyes when he’d sing a love song just for me, no matter how full the audience. The way he’d breathe I love you Amy Lucas into the mic no matter how many beautiful young women were waiting to throw their panties at him.
And of course there was the way he’d say, “We’re going to get married. I already know it.”
Well duh…that was a given the first time I laid eyes on him. I was too coy to let him know this, so instead I’d just lay smooches all over his gorgeous face.
And the one and only time I ever tested him—as women are apt to do—he handled it beautifully.
He has a gig at a private residence on the Venice Canals. He invites me along, because we’ve talked about getting a place together in that neighborhood and because he invites me everywhere. Several men flirt but don’t make it very far when they see me shoot googly eyes at the handsome guitarist setting up in the corner. But there is an older gent (so white-haired I don’t even realize he is flirting) who asks me to get him a drink while I’m downstairs. So when Nightingale and I go back upstairs after his set and I bring the man a drink, my bird is less than pleased. I sense this, but he doesn’t make a big deal…until we are walking through the canals dreaming about our future home together.
He explains that maybe it’s his fault for putting me on a pedestal but it was disappointing to see me get a drink for that pig of a man. Was I doing it for connections…to try to get a job? Because he’s heard stories, and if that’s what it takes for me to get ahead in this business—
“What are you getting at?” I ask.
“I won’t judge you if you feel the need to sleep with men to get ahead—“
“Looks like you’re already judging me,” I interrupt. “Are you calling me a whore!?”
“Yes, you did, YOU JUST CALLED ME A WHORE…”
My reaction is totally melodramatic and uncalled for. Especially since I’m not really offended (I’m actually sort of pleased he’s jealous), but he is pushing me and I want to see how far I can push back…because this is what girls do I’m afraid.
And he apologizes. And I feel…awful. Awful that I’ve just raised my voice to my beautiful Nightingale.
“Did we just fight?” I ask. “Was that a fight?”
“Yes, that was a fight,” he says, slipping his hand in mine.
“But I don’t want it to be a fight.”
“It was a fight,” he holds firm.
“But it only lasted 2 minutes.”
“It was a 2-minute fight.”
“Can’t we just press rewind and pretend it didn’t happen?”
“It’s okay, Babe. People fight.”
“Can I get back on the pedestal?”
“No,” he says, darkly. “Once you’ve fallen off, there’s no getting back on.”
I feel disgusting, and so make the silent promise that I will never pick a fight or raise my voice to my Nightingale again. How can I, when all I want to do is love him?
And so we continued in bliss. Loving, laughing, living…and every night I thanked God for bringing me my perfect man.
So you can imagine how far my heart fell when, after yoga one day—while he was washing and I was hand drying the dishes— he told me he has OCD.
I laugh, because he is perfect and that is absurd. “What do you mean you have OCD?”
“I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.”
“Yes, I know what it is. I’ve had several ex-boyfriends with it. You don’t obsessively wash your hands or check things. Are you sure you have it?” (I just can’t wrap my head around my perfection having a mental…anything.)
“I’ve been diagnosed by 3 different doctors. It’s relationship OCD…I think people are against me and I constantly question my relationships.”
“You think people are against youuuuu…how?”
“Like people are trying to hurt me, or are saying negative things about me. That’s why I don’t really have any close friends over the long term and my past relationships haven’t worked.”
“Oh.”(Silence. Silence. Silence. And then my confession.) “I have a reputation for saying the wrong thing in the wrong tone of voice,” I admit. “What if I bring it out of you?”
“You are perfect,” he says, giving me a sweet kiss. “I just wanted to be honest and let you know….in case.”
“Okay,” I say. “Well, please let me know if I do or say anything to upset you.”
“Okay.” I smile. “I think we’re going to be fine.”
But we are not fine…not ever again. With his confession came all the ugly. Like Pandora’s box, out flew insecurity, anger, hatred, disgust, criticism, worry, anxiety, DELUSION…every kind of sickness a mental illness can breed. And no matter how hard I tried to catch them, mold them into something beautiful…or at least more presentable…they all got out.
But you know what else was in Pandora’s box, don’t you? A tiny little bug called Hope. And Hope kept us going through it all. And although Hope’s wings were ultimately not strong enough to withstand the abuse, she still flits around from time to time…for the both of us, I’m sure.