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sitting on the fence - adam rakunas

I wasn't expecting to fall this deep. Even the way I asked her out ("Hey, you wanna hang out this weekend?") sounded very casual, like the biggest decision I'd have to make with her was what coffeehouse we'd go to.

I didn't even know much about her, except that she worked with some charities, could out-swim me, and that she had gorgeous bright blue eyes. And that she was older than me.

How much older didn't come out until two weeks later. I'd invited her over for dinner, and she'd brought her two dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Lab, with her. The dogs sniffed their way around my apartment, tried to beg for food, then gave up and sprawled out at our feet. We'd been talking about the different places we've lived (me: Santa Monica and Big Bear; her: Scotland, Asia, and Australia. She won.), and she just asked: "You're, what, 28?"

"Yeah," I said. I knew this would come up sooner than later. "How 'bout you?"


She wants to have kids within the next two years. She's planned on this, worked on this, even quit her last job so she and her then-boyfriend could get married and start a family. She's very methodical, very analytical. She plans ahead.

Me, I think I'm planning ahead if I know what I'm doing for lunch on any given day. I'm really planning if I'm thinking about dinner. Thinking two years down the line, thinking about starting a family of my own? Good gravy, no. Not for me. Do I want to be a father? Yes. Just not yet.

Thus, the Baby Issue was born: She wants a man who's ready to settle down, and I'm looking for a woman who's not. Hell, I was thinking about quitting my job, cycling around the country, going to grad school. How could I support a family like that? How could I be a father like that? The best thing to do was nip this in the bud, right now, before it goes anywhere.

At least, that's what we told each other when I walked her and the dogs out to her car. And that's what we told each other after we'd kissed for five or 10 minutes. The dogs looked out at us, wondering what was going on as we'd say "this is a bad idea," "we should go," and then we'd start kissing some more.

And on it went like this for another dinner. And then another. "We can be friends, we'll see each other at swim workouts and team bike rides," we said. "There's no need to rush into anything." And then we'd start kissing again.

This is just bad timing. This is someone's idea of a joke. Some doof in the shipping department of Fate Inc. slipped up and pushed the two of us together. She should be with some guy who's older and more mature and set to be a dad.

Who should I be with? Shouldn't I be with someone who I find fascinating? Shouldn't I be with someone who's smart and funny and appreciates Monty Python and doesn't mind getting sweaty on runs and bike rides? Shouldn't I be with someone who makes me feel good, makes me feel like the kind of man I always try to be? Shouldn't I be with someone who fits, age be damned?

Well? Shouldn't I?

We don't choose the people for whom we fall. We can only choose to continue loving them, to make that conscious decision to put aside fears and worries, to do things that we didn't think possible, to entertain thoughts that scared the hell out of us months or years or lifetimes ago. We can choose to take the risk, because we think these people are worth it.

And I certainly think she's worth it, many times over.

Two months ago, thinking about things like marriage and kids would have scared the hell out of me, especially this early in the game. But if being open to the idea means that I'll get to be with her, well, who's to say? We still have some time to figure this all out. There's still time to sit on the fence, even though, two months ago, I wouldn't have dreamed about climbing on top of it in the first place. I'm still not exactly sure what the future will hold, but I do like the way it looks from up here.

What have you done for love?