Growing up in the midwest, I can’t recall a time when I felt too tall to date. Perhaps it’s because there’s a large concentration of people with lanky Germanic, Swedish, and Norwegian ancestry. I also didn’t reach my full 6’0” height until college.
What was I self-conscious about? Hair. Hair that grew in places instead of my head. The first time my fuzz was addressed, 15-year-old me was working at an amusement park. One Saturday, as I gathered basketballs and made change for park guests, I began to notice one of my coworkers. He noticed me, too, and we began an unspoken courtship that would probably last the entire shift. That is, until I ran out of the shade to retrieve a ball. There I was, standing in the light of the sun, luxuriating in its luminosity, when he said it.
“You have a moustache!”
Terrified, my fingers flew to my upper lip, temporarily shielding the conspicuous white fuzz. Park patrons stopped to stare at me. A large Pepsi poured out on its own. Somewhere, on a log flume, a small boy sobbed.
“Oops, I didn’t mean to..I like it, it’s sort of cute.”
There would be no makeout sesh under the basketball tarp that day. He pointed at my hair like he was accusing me of murder and I didn’t correct him. More mortifying hair stories were to come for me and even more awkward body ones. Now I revel in these memories like I’m reading an old Judy Blume book, but back then, my gosh, I wish I didn’t care so much.
When I moved to New York City, the diversity of people made me realize how contradictory and unhelpful it was to be worried about blending in physically when my goal was to stand out artistically.
New York comes with its own set of dating problems, however. Everyone’s ambition is not only tied to career, but also personal relationships. Friends and lovers can be opportunistic. It can feel as if a person is only dating you until better comes along; you know, that enigmatic person who speaks five languages, takes a lot of naps but is unusually fit, plays a theremin, is a barista/fashion designer/deejay who started their own charity, and most importantly—this person never gets upset or shows their feelings.
Somehow through the noise, I met Kyle four years ago and now we’re engaged to be wed. It doesn’t feel like we’ve won at dating or get to stop cultivating our relationship. The difference for me is a new feeling of security, that this relationship is stable enough for me to be vulnerable, to learn, and to fail. Here is this human that I want to support and not yell at too much because it will hurt him. Our happiness has become intertwined which, like everything, has a duality. His sadness becomes my sadness and my worry becomes his. I worry about Kyle all of the time. If he’s in the bathtub for too long, I knock on the door to make sure he’s not dead. He’s..more chilled out than me.