Love, Sparks and Fireworks

When I was younger, getting swept off my feet meant alot to me. In fact, this was my #1 criterion when it came to looking for potential soul mates. My daydreams were the stuff of romance novels and I really believed that Mr. Right could take the form of a Fabio. And throughout my 20s I met my fair share of Fabios – sexy men who knew how to talk, confident men who made me feel like Cinderella. The only problem with these types of men was that always the clock struck 12, and always my carriage turned into a pumpkin. Butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, heart palpitations – those were quickly doused by a case of the commitment jeebies that typically reared their heads at month 3. 

When I was 29 and I imagined my biological clock getting ever more deafening, I began to wonder about the logic of my thinking. My older friend Marisel, a sexy 39 year-old who was calling it quits on her long dating career to marry a quiet computer programmer, said to me, “Cecilia, the fireworks aren’t real. Your mother is right. Stop looking for it or you’ll be alone forever.” I never believed my mother when she told me this. However, hearing it from Marisel, I immediately turned my thoughts to Henry, my oldest friend since kindergarten and my best male friend for the last 10 years.

Henry grew up in the house behind mine. We went to school together for 13 years until we attended separate colleges and our friendship grew as we got older. We would talk on the phone for eight hours straight and we would cry on each other’s shoulders over lost boyfriends and girlfriends. Henry had just finished medical school, training to become a pediatrician after serving two years in the Peace Corps. He was tall, good looking, and my mother loved him. The reason I never considered dating Mr. Too Good to be True was because the thought of kissing him made me think of my little brother. Given that I had met Henry when we were both 4, in a sense, he really was like my brother. But I believed Marisel, and now my mother. Fireworks may not be real but my ticking biological clock was.

So I mustered up the courage to shoot off a 3-page letter to Henry, asking if our brother-sister relationship meant we were destined to be together as lovers.  

Given that he lived just 20 minutes from me, he called me the next day, presumably the moment he received my letter.

“Wow, I was really surprised.”

“Oh?” I was tentative, nervous.

“Yeah, I mean, really surprised.”


“I don’t know…maybe there was a time when it could’ve happened…but…you weren’t interested then, so…now I can’t look at you as anything other than a sister.”

Uh huh…

“Actually, I’m driving down to New Jersey Friday night. I met this stripper at Paul’s bachelor’s party last weekend and I got her phone number…”

If this were a movie this would be the part where the sound effects of tires screeching and glass crashing would be heard. I know I’ve scared some Fabios and Casanovas in the past with my desire for commitment, but now I’ve also scared a nice Peace Corps doctor too – straight into the arms of a sex worker.

As the only person among my friends not amused by the irony of this situation, I secretly swore myself off men from then on. And that, in part, contributed to my ability to move to Japan later that year. The absence of commitment, whether real or imagined, freed me to pursue my personal dreams, untethered to anyone or to the dream of anyone.

And much to the pleasure of my wagering friends back home, I would indeed fall in love when I least expected it, personifying the favorite cliche of the 20-something crowd.

I still remember the first time I met Max: handsome, gentle, smiling, clean cut. He was a Fabio in the sense that he caught my eye quickly and had a smooth, confident way about him. But different from my past playboys, Max possessed the tenderness and humility of a computer programmer, engineer, accountant, kindergarten teacher. He was the Prince without the pumpkin, the Henry without the incest. Before we ever spoke, I knew that he was The One.

And luckily for me, Max felt the same way. Those early months of our relationship were indeed fireworks: stolen kisses in stairwells and subway stations, 4-hour dates followed up by 2-hour phone calls followed up by 3-page e-mails. We were walking public displays of affection in a culture that doesn’t even peck at weddings. Not only did the butterflies fight another world war in our stomachs, they continued long after our first “I love you”s. And they continued after we met each other’s parents, after we sent out the wedding invitations, even after I was practically tipping over with a 6 lb. Fred camping out in my uterus.

Last night, I walked out of the shower with my shoulders glistening with drops of water, my thick, oversized towel barely staying over me. I walked over to Max’s side of the bed to pick up my glasses and gave him a sideways glance. He got out of bed, shot a quick look in my direction and headed to the bathroom. I smoothed lotion over my damp body as Max made his way back to bed and pulled up his right knee. He opened his nail clipper and began picking away at his foot corn. I pulled my $4.99 leopard print pajamas over me and climbed into bed next to him, opening up David Sedaris’ Naked to the last essay on his experience with the senior citizens in the nudist colony.

Well, it is nine years later. I guess the fireworks don’t last, but the embers still glow. And I’ve still got my Fabio.

18 thoughts on “Love, Sparks and Fireworks

  1. I really enjoyed your post Cecilia! You scaring your doctor best boy friend into the arms of a stripper with your confession of platonic love was so funny. Your last two paragraphs were GREAT. I thought you were going to take it the other way 😉

    • Thanks for reading, Laura! As always I appreciate your feedback. You’ll have to let me know when you start your own blog! 🙂

    • We were “officially” engaged one year after we started dating (ring and proposal), but we basically knew and started talking about marriage within the first week or 2 of dating (!). I would normally be skeptical if anyone else told me the same story but I do believe that sometimes when you know, you just know. How about you guys?

      • Well, I KNEW at 5 months and he at 6 or 7 months (worst 2 month EVER) and we were engaged immediately (so at 7 months of dating) and married 7 months after that!
        And now it’s been six and a half years of lovely marriage 😀 and I’m more in love with him each year!

        • Oh, women have better intuition! (though I can imagine the torture of waiting…) That’s amazing that you fall MORE in love with each passing year, esp. after 2 kids! You need to write a post about this – your “secrets” to a happy marriage – in a future blog post!!

  2. I think your Mom and friend who married the quiet computer programmer have it totally wrong. You absolutely have to wait for the right guy and when you find him yes, there will be fireworks – because if you don’t have fireworks in the beginning then you will have nothing, not even a sizzle, later on. One of the few things I intend on telling my daughter NOT to do in life is to settle, for anything less than the right guy. Great post, you do it every time.

    • Thank you, Aging Mommy! I really appreciate your feedback. I’m a firm believer in fireworks too. Though I suppose some people are happy with a more brotherly/sisterly love. But I totally agree that no one should settle. That’s an important message to pass onto your daughter too – there are too many women out there who don’t respect themselves enough to feel that they deserve better (myself included, when I was younger…)

  3. Oh, how adorable are you.

    Please make sure your husband reads this.

    It is a tribute of the highest order.

    See…this is why I want to do that “blog 2book” thing. All this history to just hand over, in book form, to your offspring.

    Very good read, by the way, I didn’t even get up when I heard the sausages sizzling away in the pan…you, my dear, have made my children wait for dinner many a time!!!!

    So, turn the charm down a notch or two. Thank you.

    • You are too funny, Alexandra. I would hate to have the guilt of your starving children hanging over my head!! 😉 Please, get ye to your sausages! In the meantime I will try to turn down the charm…a bit…but it might be hard with the influences of you…;-)

  4. The fireworks and embers are equally important, I think. I love your description of your husband as the prince without the pumpkin … perhaps because I just finished watching Cinderella with my daughter! =>

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