When I was in middle school, I developed an intense crush. Even today, happily married and with two beautiful children, if this person came back into my life and asked me to go away with him, I would have difficulty choosing my husband over him.
I met him in a one-room school house in Canada. He pestered the other girls mercilessly but mostly good-naturedly. Once he tugged the braids of a new girl and called her, “Carrots.” He did overstep his bounds with that one, but her reaction was a little extreme. He couldn’t have known how sensitive she was about her red hair.
As the years passed, he matured but retained his sense of playfulness even through college and medical school. He also maintained his devotion to that red-haired girl (who eventually forgave him for the “carrots” thing), which caused me, for many years, to try and become a redhead myself.
In my 30’s, I developed another crush. This time it was for the dark gentleman with the acerbic wit and the obvious scorn for those who engaged in the niceties and ridiculous rituals of society, even as he himself also participated in them. He was exceedingly wealthy, but that wasn’t the primary appeal. He was so discerning a character that to win his heart would be a reward in and of itself. And there is something incredibly attractive about a man willing to admit his errors and to change his opinions when confronted with contradictory evidence. I watched as his heart softened and he gradually fell for a woman I both admired and envied, a woman he had initially dismissed but eventually saw for the uniquely intelligent and caring person she was.
Alas, neither of these loves was meant to be mine, not because they were in love with other women, and not because I am off the market as a married lady and mother myself. These loves weren’t meant to be because these men live in the 19th century and in different countries, figurative offspring of the imaginations of the women who wrote them.
But I picked a husband who shares many qualities with Gilbert Blythe and Mr Darcy. He’s generous and kind and has strong ideals which inform his every decision. He’s willing to admit his errors and doesn’t lord it over me on the rare occasion that I’m wrong. We initially didn’t like each other, but we gradually grew to know each other for who we were beneath the surface and by some miracle, we found we loved one another for all of the bumps and bruises and imperfections that constitute our individual beauty.
So I am, sort of, Mrs Gilbert Blythe or Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy, just without the Canadian maritimes or the English country estate. Although my birthday is coming up. Perhaps my husband will surprise me by revealing some title he’s been hiding for the past seventeen years.