A week ago Jeremy was glowing. “Last night I told Sara that I loved her.” He bought us two horchatas, and then ignored his as he recounted the events of the evening.
“Wow. That’s really…. Well done,” I said. I’m always impressed by new love, and I put my hand out for shaking. Now it was official.
“I know. Everything’s just really coming together now for us, and last night I just felt this overwhelming…” he searched for the words, “all-encompassing thing.”
“So there it was.”
“Right. And I have to say, it feels great.” He scooted his glass, now frosted with condensation, back and forth, obsessively.
“Congratulations,” I said. I’d never been as rigorous with my own thoughts to assume that I understood love, which made his declaration–or any declaration of love–all the more miraculous.
I’d finished my horchata, and the straw sucked spiritedly at the bottom of the glass. “It makes me wonder though,” I said. “Would you like to be her?” The question didn’t strike me as the definitive acid test, but it did seem like a natural consideration.
“To be her? I don’t know, she’s doing pretty well now with the new job and all. I certainly wouldn’t mind that commute.”
“No, I’m not talking about swapping places with her. I mean would you want to be Sara?”
He cocked his head and blinked at me. “What do you…?”
“To live the life she’s living,” I said, “in her skin. I mean, you say that you love her, and that’s great. But I just wonder if being in love with someone–the one–also suggests a willingness to be that person.”
“That doesn’t… I don’t know what you’re driving at.” He laughed and shifted in his chair, looking around the restaurant, as if he might see others listening in.
“I’m asking if you’d be open to the possibility,” I said.
Jeremy sat up in his chair. “I mean, I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I like myself,” he said, making chopping gestures with his hands, “and I’ve become the person that Sara can love. We’re not interchangeable.”
I laughed. “I’m not saying you’re interchangeable. If you were, the question would be moot.”
“The question is moot!” he barked. “Sorry. I just….” He looked around the room again.
“I don’t think you’d be so defensive if the question were moot.”
“And,” I added, “I don’t think you’d be so defensive if the answer were ‘yes.’ I basically asked if you’d like to live your life as Sara, and I infer from your response–from your reaction–that the answer is no.”