Modern Love & a Tortoise

Modern Love - Tortoise


love the New York Times Modern Love column which is more a collection of articles that readers submit. 

I thought this would be a nice article to share as it is about the love between a woman and her tortoise and how her tortoise led her to find true love. So it’s about an animal right?!

I am a romantic. I admit it. But not the kind of romance where wedding bells ring as your eyes cross paths, or you exchange stuffed animals (yuck), or Hallmark cards with beautiful words of love pre-written by someone else. 

I met this guy a little over a year ago who was the quintessential romantic. He allowed me to drag him to a Picasso exhibition, then surprised me with a picnic in the Botanic Gardens, home cooked dinners catering to whatever food groups I was eating for that week (poor guy!), walks on the beach where he would hold my hand…actually he would hold my hand even when driving –  it was quite sweet, wanted to meet my parents on the third date and for me to meet his family and friends with a surprising immediacy, called me to say Happy Valentine’s, had showers together by candlelight etc. Very sweet guy.

Born romantic. 

But I just didn’t feel the romance. My friends tease me that the more a guy treats me well or wants to spend time with him, the less I like him. Which is not true though I can see how they have come to that conclusion. 

I told him blithely that I didn’t want him to meet my parents because when they asked after him a few weeks’ later, it was going to be awkward when he wasn’t around. Which was a completely off the cuff and unintended remark but actually did end up being true! 

I chose to spend Valentine’s with my friend instead of him, and would not have even messaged him if he had not messaged AND called me. I refused to meet his family and met his friends once out of the ten times he tried to ask me to meet them. Then that evening told him I had no interest in being exclusive and the next morning, was in bed while on the phone to my friend, setting up a date with another guy with him right next to me. 

I didn’t do these things to be cruel to him, or to be insensitive of his feelings. I would never intentionally hurt anyone. I just didn’t feel it. Nor did he but he was just marginally nicer about it than me. But I wished I had felt that way. I couldn’t put my finger on why the things he did, didn’t set off a spark in me. 

There is this other guy at work, and he fits the same romantic mould as my previous suitor (love that word). He has taken me out for several really nice lunches, remembers everything I like, sent me flowers for Valentine’s and my birthday (though we are just friends), and actually more importantly, he remembered my birthday and said happy birthday without needing any provoking. 

I really really dislike it when people don’t message me happy birthday. 

But he isn’t inspiring any feelings in me either. 

I have been really mulling over this for some time, and up until today thought maybe, just maybe my friends are right. Maybe I do just prefer a guy who is unavailable and uninterested. My ex told me repeatedly that I wasn’t “normal” and that no one thought like me. Which affected me deeply for a long time, and caused me to sadly tussle with whether I should think and act like everyone else or be myself. Being myself always wins. But the embers of the to and fro debate were always alight and waging a war in my mind.

Until I came across this article. 

Don’t get me wrong, all the things that have been done for me, I really have appreciated and it has definitely restored my faith that old fashioned, traditional courtships do still exist. But romance for me is my being free to be my quirky, excitable, energetic self. 

Romance is someone who doesn’t pigeonhole me to try and “get me”. I find most people have an identity. It makes people feel comfortable, feel as if they belong. They are corporate, or athletic, or hipster or whatever it is, that makes them feel safe. 

I am me. 

I dress like I am blind most days. I will wear thongs with any outfit. But when I want to dress appropriately for my environment I do. I am just as comfortable in a corporate environment as I am at a trance event. Just as comfortable donning running shoes to prepare for a 100km walk as I am putting high heels and a beautiful dress on to go to an upmarket bar or club.

I like downloading weird Youtube videos, motivational quotes and funnies from Pinterest (will post some next!) daily as much as I like reading classic literature and reading law and economics journals. 

I have goals and ambition. But I will check things off in my own time. Not anyone else’s. 

Romance is not about testing people to see whether they meet your criteria. I put up a FB profile picture once of a hairless dog chewing his toenails, then private messaged this extremely hot stockbroker I had met. Bangin’. But he was horrified. In his broker world where it’s all about image, I had just destroyed mine. But I wasn’t testing him. I was just happily being me. Because I liked that picture of that dog and I liked him and I didn’t understand why those things had to be kept separate. He did come around, once my friends began commenting on the picture and he realised it was just in fun, but inevitably, it was clear that we wouldn’t work. Another guy looked at me like I had the IQ of a mentally retarded small child when I asked him with excitement if he liked puppies. We didn’t work out either.

Romance to me, is about accepting that with one breath I will insist upon leading a law seminar and asking the Senior Executive Leader of my Legal department to mentor me for a Future Leaders Program, and with the other breath I will meow at people out of car windows. 

A “date” (it was not a date, I will not say what it was *blush), went swimmingly once because he watched in curiosity as I alternated between meowing and singing to people out his car window the night I met him, and instead of looking at me with confusion, or worse, the “I don’t get you” look, he just pulled me to him for a kiss. Then took me to a gay club. 

It was amazing. 

Romance to me then isn’t about flowers and hand holding and spooning and keeping to dates. Though all of that is lovely. But that shouldn’t be romance per se. That should be standard. I get that everyone has their different wants and needs. That’s completely fine. As one Dita Von Teese quote I like on Pinterest says ‘You can be the ripest, juiciest peach and there will be someone who doesn’t like peaches’. And that’s fine. I am not everyone’s desired fruit. Someone else’s ideals of romance will be different to mine. That’s ok!

Romance to me? Romance to me is this article. It’s about a man loving a woman as she is and not wanting her to be his definition of normal. Being normal is boring. It’s about a man loving a woman enough to take her pet tortoise to Central Park in New York for a picnic and buying it a red squid toy. 

I would love  that guy. 

That is what I am looking for. 


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