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.

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  • I’m really happy she is getting married. She has worked hard & accomplished much so to be getting married is just extra icing on the cake! Congrats Girly!

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  • Akai*

    Beef Bacon wrote: “As far as knowing what to do….BS! You learn at whatever age/stage you are in. No one becomes a sexual know-it-all overnight– no matter what age you start…it is a learning process…”

    Exactly! …and the “learning process” and experimentation is hella fun and should never cease. *giggle*

    And, you know? Even if someone has slept with 30 people, that does not make them an expert nor does it guarantee they will/can satisfy this individual and that person or automatically know how. People are different, bodies and ‘hot spots’ vary, and we all respond to a variety of things — so every individual has to explore a (new) person’s likes then learn to please them.

    Beef Bacon wrote: “Preaching, “wait until marriage” is RARELY DONE!”

    I see what you’re saying. It may not be discussed often or publicly, but there are movements across the country that advocate waiting. What’s cool is many of them are not religious, but spiritual, and there are also groups for females in their mid 20’s and 30’s who’ve re-committed to abstaining or celibacy.

    There were 3 groups on campus when I was in undergrad, but I was a member of a TLW (True Love Waits) group from junior high on. There were 8 of us and it was hella supportive and fun and all of us are still close friends to this day. My parents bought me a gold and diamond ring and matching bracelet to symbolize my decision to wait until my wedding night; I passed them on to my next youngest sister when she made a personal commitment at 13, and she’ll give them to our baby sister when/if she decides to wait.

    It’s a waste of energy, air, spit and words to simply yap “Wait!” without there being a source for daily encouragement and open dialogue. Since moving, unfortunately I haven’t been able to assist as much as I used to, but my cousin has been mentoring a group of about 15 girls age 13-17 in the city for the last 2½ years. She wanted to create a space where they felt completely comfortable sharing so all the girls are of color and – outside if serious/life-threatening issues – the rules are honesty, speaking up, and a bond to keep what’s shared in the room.

    As the old adage goes…”The idle mind is the devil’s playground!” Hormones are biz-ouncing and boy-crazy is no joke, so redirecting the focus with regular get-togethers are a given in addition to encouraging self-actualization and the pursuit of interests, hobbies, academics, sports, exploring who you are and your own true likes/dislikes etc.

    Sex HAS TO BE talked about in the communities and the discussions are lively and frank (and I’m talking uber-frank) without any friggin’ prudishness. Nothing is off-limits and we discuss everything from how the female body works, ‘self pleasuring’, how feelings of sexual arousal are normal and good (not dirty or sinful), self-respect, why the personal choice was made to wait, STDs, pregnancy, birth control, peer pressure, feeling out of the loop because “everybody else does it,” comforting and drying tears after a girl gets dumped or disregarded for not “putting out,” practical step-by-step suggestions on how to extricate if with their boyfriends and aroused from kissing/touching, situations and places (that open the door for things to go too far) to avoid, safety issues i.e. no parties where there is alcohol which makes females extra horny and lowers inhibitions, don’t go into a guy’s bedroom, never enter the apartment of an unknown dude alone etc.

    A lot of young girls just want to be heard and feel that somebody cares. Having someone to trust, an older mentor to guide, and a support group of peers that are on the same page makes a huge difference.

    Talking to one’s mother about certain things is sometimes just as icky and uncomfortable today as it’s been since the beginning of time, but the girls encourage each other, open up, develop more confidence everyday to stay true to themselves, and are doing wonderfully (even though there’ve been challenges and tough times).

  • You gave me a lesson to what is love

  • I personally don’t believe in dating for a long time. I’m taking a year off from dating and when I do start back 1-1-11, then I plan to court and not date. Dating is a flawed process that teaches us to break up and make up, which is why it is easy for people to divorce. Dating has taught you that pattern.

    • What is the difference between dating and courting?

    • Check out these definitions from a few online sources:

      “In overview, courting should only happen once and ends in a life-long covenant relationship. Dating happens lots of times, and ends in many hurts, heartbreaks, scars, and if you’re lucky, a partner that just may stay with you for the next few years, or (if you’re really lucky) the rest of your life.”

      “Though courting today really varies, the idea behind it differs from dating in that dating, one isn’t necessarily looking for a future spouse. The courting couples I’ve talked with usually get together in public places even with other couples
      or friends. It’s an opportunity to get to know someone in a friendship-like setting without the pressures to commit, or doing anything physical with the other person.”

  • Lisa

    Been there done it. 18-27. Comfortable was exactly what it was. I walked away, he was devastated. Now I’m 29. What do I think looking back? We both made a lot of life decisions around each other. Where to live, where to go to college. I’d do it different if I could do it again. Lesson learned – your 20’s never come back around. It’s the best time to find yourself ALONE and do you!