I want to have an essay published in the New York Times Modern Love column by the end of this year. They get over 600 submissions and accept 4 a month. (With the addition of the new Modern Love Podcast, I’m betting the submissions have quadrupled.) For the girl behind HeartsEverywhere.com, The Modern Love column is my (first) Pulitzer. Originally I thought I’d try submitting once a month but three months have passed and while I’ve scoured articles on how to submit and read about 100 past essays, my Modern Love essay exists in broken puzzle pieces in my brain.
No other story leaves me as awestruck as our love story. How did I, a girl born in Kiev, meet a boy, born in Kansas City, in New York City, when I was 30 years old, with a 2-year old in tow? I was not in the market for a love story; I thought I already had my chance at love and failed. I didn’t believe in fairytales; I believed in pragmatic compatibility. I didn’t believe my body would physically tell me when I found a match. In fact, just like so many insecure women lugging duffles full of baggage, I didn’t think I would find someone who would truly love the “real” me.
Wives tales and best friends for generations have said, “You’ll know when you know” when you meet “the one.” These phrases, not to be uttered without finger air quotes, seemed 1980s romantic-comedy brainwashed. But in 2005 Brokeback Mountain gifted us the “I can’t quit you” line. While late-night talk show hosts made fun of the phrase in their evening monologs, I sobbed for four hours straight, in my then boyfriend’s childhood room in Kansas City. Never had my heart felt so trapped in a net of love. I previously thought “chemistry” meant he made me cum, but now I understand “chemistry” is finding the other half of your magnet. When we touched, it felt like a science experiment and it went beyond logical explanation. It is love; life’s miracle and its reason.
This was 2005 and I couldn’t quit him within year one. But how could this feeling last? Magic. We celebrated 11 years together last month and we marveled at how long it’s been; a quarter of my life! Yet, it feels so new, so fresh, so surreal. It felt like home the day I met him; like I recognized him but couldn’t place him, a long-lost family member I had been searching for all of my life.
Our physical connection was instant and intense – and I felt it the minute I took his hand for the first time. Our glowing energies match. This connection is addicting; a drug you need to sleep at night. As fiery individuals, we ignited a passion for everything we did, from photo shoots, to road trips, to bed.
I wish for every woman to have a man who looks at them the way my husband looks at me. He makes me feel wanted, he makes me feel like a goddess, and when he wraps his arms around me I don’t feel protected because he’s bigger than me, I feel safe because his entire soul has surrounded mine in a halo of his love.
Our love feels like spring time. It is a vibrant fuchsia magnolia tree tunnel hugging us as we walk on the greenest grass under the bluest sky and the fluffiest clouds form hearts and spell out our initials. I want to linger right in the sweet spot where the birds launch into symphonies which sound like love songs. Life is sweeter, more relevant, and a lot more fun when you’re madly in love.
It makes me so nervous to have this kind of love; what will life take away from me to balance it out? It’s such a Russian mentality – to be nervous when things are good. I never get a break; I’m worried when it’s bad and I’m worried even more when it’s good.
We made it official on our decade-anniversary, with our 5-year-old daughter as the flower girl and my 13-year-old son as his best man. While the documents call him husband, I hope he never stops being my boyfriend. That cool, sexy, kind, funniest guy in the room, who always knows how to handle a situation, and who always has a good comeback line and an even better tell-off email.
When we met, I thought I met a clown, and instead, I met my muse who took his hand, placed it gently on my chin and tilted it in the direction of finding hearts everywhere. Now, on the wave of his love-filled cheerleading, I write my way towards a dream, trying to sprinkle heart confetti through my stories.
So if it’s so easy for me to write about our cinematic love story, why three months with no Modern Love submission? Because every good story has conflict and our romance is no different. Jumping into that pool of memories, exploiting our chapter of movie-worthy drama scares me. I’m not ready to relive or write about that yet. It’s far easier to doodle hearts than scars.
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