Ten years ago, Zoe Saldana was a small role actress behind Kirsten Dunst and Sisqo in the teen dramedy ‘Get Over It.’ It’s hard to picture now, but back then our magazine cover girl was caught playing second fiddle to the former Dru Hill member who blessed the music world with the two part gift Unleash the Dragon and Return of The Dragon.
Thankfully, after roles behind Britney in ‘Crossroads,’ Nick in ‘Drumline’ and other less than likely Oscar prospects, Zoe finally got some shine of her own. Since Avatar mania, it’s as if Hollywood woke up and looked the actress straight in the eye aptly saying “I see you.”
While much has changed in her life over the last ten years, the man on her side has not. With news of her engagement to long time boyfriend Keith Britton, Zoe’s love life has become a hot topic on the blogs and in the dailies. As one of the few young Hollywood it girls with a personal ‘personal life,’ Zoe’s sure to receive some annoying prying in the weeks to come about the date, the place and the dress. But what I’m wondering more than anything else is: how does one pull off a decade long love?
Ten years is a long time, but it can fly right by before you know it. I know this not by having done it myself but watching many women in my life float from first dates to first, second, then before you know it eight, nine and ten year anniversaries. In college there was inevitably the girl who had carried over a love from her sophomore year of high school making me wonder if my skepticism about high school sweethearts was really cynicism. Now, in my twenties, there are the couples whose track records seem to have them on an understood path to some church, courtroom, trendy exotic location selected from Modern Bride.
Despite my dry tone, there is something warm and fuzzy about these loves that I want for myself. Well, at times.
I wasn’t always able to articulate what it was. This thing these long time young loves had. I couldn’t find a word for it but I could show you when it happened. It was the lack of anxiety on who takes the bill to the expected late night phone call. It was on one occasion, seeing a couple that had been together for years, sooth each other with Vicks vapor rub. And that is what it is I find myself wanting when I look at these well worn-in couples; in a word: comfort.
I’m expressing this fully aware and prepared for any backlash that should come as a result. The very notion of being comfortable with someone can be demonized by the leaders of the “we don’t need ‘em” crew. And I understand comfort can lead to complacency and that comfort is not always as good for us as we first feel. But on some level wanting comfort is not in and of itself a fault.
I do want to have a love that grows into thoughtless comfort over years and years of time. But I am not sure my twenties are the best time. The great thing about this stage is the mobility, the capability to wake up tomorrow and do something that completely changes the direction of your life. It’s not to say you can’t do these things in your thirties, but the concerns of being fresh out of undergrad tend to be drastically different after making it ten years out in the “Real World.”
At this point in my life, there are few doors that are closed–few things I have to rule out as impractical because of where I am in my life right now. There are still opportunities for me to achieve the goals I wrote out in bad script on ‘Career Day’ in 3rd grade. It’s not that I think the good times will dry up after I turn 29, but looking at the challenges faced by women in the next rung up, makes my world feel like swimming in milk and honey with my mouth wide open.
Now, let’s be real–we all know women who have found ways to squander their twenties that have nothing to do with men. But I can list so many more who have given these years to a man who gladly shared in the growth but ultimately wouldn’t commit. Not all long loves end in disappointment. There will be some girl who has an engagement ring before a graduation robe. That couple everyone thinks will walk down the aisle will hop a broom. And the Zoes and Keiths will finally make it official.
And the girls like myself?
Well so far, the plan is to have spent some good nights dancing in heels that are impractical. To be slightly relieved when my phone dies, knowing it makes me unreachable and leaves me undisturbed. To spend hours laughing with friends in diners ordering brunch at clearly the wrong time. To be irresistible on dates and ending them with bare kisses on the cheek, or neck. To drive to errant places to pick up limited edition nail polish colors. To have mid-week breakdowns that involve boxes of Kleenex and watching sermons via podcast. To sit in coffee shops reading policy journals with a messy bun and tattered jeans. To be an anxious mess re-writing her life plan and timeline at three in the morning.
Of course, I am not all I will ever need. I’d love to have a big love that finally comes to fruition, and maybe I will find a man who I want to give years and years to. But more than anything, I want to spend these years falling in love with the woman I become more of everyday. She keeps changing, finding ways to peak my interest and asking me to give her the time she deserves.
So a decade long comfortable love that lasts through my twenties? Yeah, I can see that.