Every gift is a curse. But, is every curse also a gift?
I’m going to take the long way around a pretty basic question, but one that I am honestly curious about and would love to hear any thoughts on the matter.
When I was a teenager, I had a number of “love interests” that were short-lived, but intense enough that I remember them vividly. I went from Tom-boy to boy-crazy fairly quickly, in just one summer actually. For someone so young I found myself navigating very choppy waters without a smidgeon of skill.
Two of them, around the age of 16 and 17, are fit examples for this story. One was a short-term boyfriend, another was a near miss.
The near miss was a one-legged salesman. I was a shoe sales clerk at the shopping mall in Chesterfield, Missouri. It was actually a really good job and I was glad to have it. Suburban life before car age is brutally boring for someone like me. I finally felt free and so adult-like as I strutted through the mall on breaks in my heavily discounted Overland Trading Company shoes.
I don’t remember which shop it was now, but I would expressly wander in that direction just to see if he was there. He would smile at me, I felt he was even waiting for me to pass by, and I would smile back, maybe give a cute little wave for added effect.
That he had only one leg was not what made me want to gawk at him. But rather that he was gorgeous. I mean, seriously Gorgeous. Handsome, amazing build, confident, well-dressed, and just the right amount of older for a 16 year old to get herself swooning in his direction.
We talked at some point. Went to the food court together. Became, not exactly friends, but something like ‘mall buddies’. Then somehow it happened that we decided to have a real date, where he came over to my house to pick me up in his car.
And I will never forget that moment. It was a sudden disaster. That he had one leg did not phase me in the public sphere, not at all. It felt like a non-issue. Sure, I was curious what had happened, and I’m sure I asked at one point and he answered, but I don’t recall his story. I liked him. I especially liked looking at him. I liked that he liked me. I remember, I really liked that.
I remember he was kind, and a gentleman. And I hated myself. I hated myself that suddenly, seeing him in my house, something switched for me that I could not comprehend. I sensed overwhelmingly, all of a sudden, that I could not be who he needed me to be. It was a shameful, and quite devastating feeling for me at that ripe young age.
On one other occasion not long afterward I again became intoxicated by another young man’s beauty. He was my age and the son of a family friend from church. Everybody loved him. It also ended badly, despite my genuine feelings for him, that certainly went beyond just his great looks. And that also came down to the same issue, in 20/20 hindsight: I can’t be who you need me to be. The realization coming too late to avoid the associated pain. Their beauty, I really believe, clouded what I should’ve seen before leading them on.
And my point in sharing these very old recollections is, could the opposite also be true? I guess I feel it would be nice if it were. I saw a man the other day who was clearly very compromised—and my heart went out to him, in a very pitying way. I knew, from his appearance, he suffered many hardships in life. I’d like to believe that in his apparent curse, he has found a deeper gift. Sort of like the opposite of the gift of beauty that invariably bestows pain due to all of us who are so entranced by it.
Or, I’m just looking for an avenue out of my automatic pity for him? Thoughts?