A year ago, I met my boyfriend in Bali. Of course there are all kinds of problems you’re setting yourself up for when you meet someone on a tropical vacation. In paradise, you were both tanner, for one, and generally more relaxed and attractive in a way you can never replicate back in Reality.
But the other major issue is that unless you found your soulmate at the Wisconsin Dells, you probably don’t live in the same place. Mine lives in the Netherlands. And because of his work, he can’t really move away from the Netherlands. My work is flexible, like my fingers, which bend back almost 90 degrees and I’ve been told by a palm reader means I am easy to manipulate.
The common wisdom says you should never move anywhere for a man. But when it comes to sacrifice, I’m like Meatloaf. I’ll do pretty much anything for love. Not for friends or relatives. I’m not that selfless. Only the men I am snuggling with.
The list of thing I’ve done for the various lovely and horrific men in my life is manifold. I’ve straightened my hair with scalp-burning chemicals because he thought it made me look more “put together.” I’ve overdrawn my bank account more than just the one time I unexpectedly had to pay for both our dinners. I once went to a bar in Chelsea specifically so he could stalk his favorite (male) actor from Gossip Girl.
I’ve taken interest in trance music, watched the Matrix sequels, climbed on my hands and knees up rocky mountain paths, refrained from eating cucumbers, worn heels, worn flats, slept in a Bangkok slum, endured endless hours of televised sporting events and crossed the ocean approximately 7,000 times.
I’ve refrained from cooking around him because I knew my domesticity would make him uncomfortable. I’ve helped two different boyfriends look for apartments, spending my weekends combing listings and comparing closet space, only to realize that neither had any intention of ever asking me to share the place with him.
In high school, I had a boyfriend whose super-religious family was second only to snake handlers on the freaky-deakie scale. Did I run? No, not me. Instead, I was baptized in a blow-up swimming pool in their church basement. It would make things easier, I reasoned.
A decade later, a scalper ripped off another boyfriend and we only had enough money left to buy one ticket, which he used to see the game. “You’re really great,” he said, kissing the top of my head and dashing into the stadium. It didn’t stop him from cheating on me on my next birthday.
That old adage about relationships being wrought on compromise is only true if both parties in question a) acknowledge they actually want a relationship and b) recognize the compromise is beneficial to both of you in the end and c) don’t already have a frequent-buyer card with a prostitute named Sandy.
I’m not blaming the men in my life for making me do these things. I did them of my own (feeble) free will. Most of these things were not worth it in the end. Certainly these were not all particularly proud moments on my part, though at the time I often thought I was being attractively and heroically selfless, I suppose I was just being a pathetic doormat.
But this particular man that I would be sacrificing my American existence for is such a contrast to the others. He happens to be so damn sweet at times and so funny at others, so snuggly and charming, so good at French-toast cooking and shopping basket carrying.
This is how the compromise always starts. A few small rationalizations such as, "America’s OK, but our soft yellow cheeses just don’t compare to a young Gouda" and "I’ve always wanted to have a separate toilet room from the shower" begin to worm their way into my though process, paving the way for a full-on concession.
So, yeah I might be crossing the ocean for the 7,001st time. I might be doing most of the dishes. I might get hurt. A lot. I might regret it later in some way. But, I won’t go small. I won't compromise my compromises just to have a less interesting life where I feel constantly in control. No, I won’t do that.