"I hope you don't think this is too early, but I'd like to look at rings."
I had met Sophie at the mall as we had arranged. She was a quiet little thing, with the dewy prettiness of Pisces that so often comes out most distinctly through the eyes. They matched the softness of the voice I had first heard two days earlier on the Dating Line, which at the time was the newest and most novel of ways to engage in Humanity's oldest pursuit. I had not known her in person for more than, at absolute most, ten minutes.
I played along because I had no idea that her intent was more or less exactly what it appeared to be. I assumed that "too early to look at rings" was some quaint fashion rule, like not wearing white after Labor Day, or something.
I was wrong.
Later that evening, as we cleared her kitchen table (Sophie could cook), we began to go over her previous romantic track record. There was the boyfriend who cheated on her. There was the guy who stole her car to pay off a gambling debt. There was the secret alcoholic. There was --
At this point I had to interrupt the wistful litany of Good Intentions Gone Wrong, if for no other reason than I was worried that if these guys were all losers... what was I doing there? Her story was turning into something resembling a parody of every bad love life I had waded in as an astrologer.
"Why..." I said, struggling with the right way to phrase my question. "Why do you keep going on throwing yourself into these situations? You know you can't change people. You know you can't change for them either... or at least, you shouldn't try. So, why?"
"Because I want to love someone. And I know there's someone I can love who will love me. And I believe that's out there, and I'm never going to find it if I stop looking."
In a second all the wise-sounding mate-seeking advice I had ever given a client flashed through my head. Be strong in yourself. Don't bend to someone else's will. At the first sign of trouble, leave. Make the other guy work for it too. Don't give yourself away too quickly. Break the old patterns. Don't sell yourself short. Don't...
...and I looked into those big dewy eyes again and somehow, impossibly, saw that she was right. I knew it wouldn't be me, but I knew that some day she would find what she was looking for. And that ultimately, she had just as much a chance of success following the logic of the heart as I did following the logic of the brain. And without a single scrap of logic to back it, I saw her as a soul, rather than as a victim. I would not be the one who would do that for her. But someone else would be that One True Love that she sought.
And ultimately... if she on her path would find that, so could I as I followed my own path, littered though it may be with disappointments and frustrations.
I lit up with delight at this. I leaned in, kissed her goodbye, wished her luck, and left. I never saw her again.
Fish gotta swim. Bird's gotta fly. And the heart...
The heart wants what it wants. And if you'd just let it out of that cage and allow it to take wing, maybe... just maybe...
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