Visiting family in Chicago normally translates to three related and almost causal events, which I definitely always look forward to:
An Event. Yes, it's sacred time I carve out to be with friends (two of whom are sisters-in-law) so that I can really unwind and take my mind off of worrying thoughts that constantly shadow my identity as a parent. It is an 'event' because it's one of the very few times I get to be a bit dressy, take a bit more time putting make-up on, and most of all, consume alcohol.
Image by: Drunken Monkey
I understand that there are some who believe that people in committed relationships should not have crushes or feel any sort of attraction towards people other than the partner or spouse. But isn't that unrealistic to expect? We are human after all and it's normal to acknowledge and appreciate beauty in others when we see it. In my case, I'm clear that there's no emotional investment or attachment on my part. I haven't even directly interacted with this guy and only see him twice a year if I'm lucky enough. I don't fantasize about him or imagine being with him. I really just think he's remarkably attractive. Ok, maybe even 'spine-tinglingly' handsome. But that's about it. It's a shallow crush, a strictly superficial admiration that I know I will never act on. Ever. And I suppose that's the important part. I may appreciate and admire this person's looks but by no means do I look at him as a replacement for my spouse. My admiration for this other man does not translate to my husband's diminishment. In other words, I'm able to compartmentalize, and it seems to be working in my favor. I think that's key in keeping these things innocent and harmless, and ultimately, quite acceptable.
You know what else I realized? It wasn't so much the sight of my crush that I enjoyed the most, but the feelings the whole experience brought me. For me, it was the strategizing with my friends so that we can have the best view of 'Babe'. It was the thrill of doing my best to be subtle, to not be 'found out'. It was the feeling of innocence that was brought back by this shallow infatuation. It was the sense of fun it brought with it that I was able to share with friends and one we bonded over.
We are drawn to people not simply for who they are but more because of how they make us feel about ourselves or our lives. We seek out situations that bring out a part of us that we want to show up or enjoy experiencing and cultivating; and we tend to retreat or shy away from those that we feel ill-equipped for or that tend to call forth parts of us we don't like or reject.
What we do or how we behave really has nothing to do with others, (whether it's the handsome server or my husband, in this situation) and everything to do with us (me). Just as is true for any other married person who develops a crush on someone (or even an affair), it has to do with the experience you are seeking, the feelings you want, rather than simply the other person involved.
The whole time during that evening, what kept popping in my mind was how everything felt like I was in collegeagain, when my closest friends would help 'stalk' my crush and find out as much as they can about him for me; how I'd share my feelings with my dearest friends and always felt supported and understood; how the smallest thrills just made life fun for us. Those are what I miss. That's probably what I'm seeking. And I would take what I (safely and sanely) can, even if it's just three hours at a restaurant feasting on eye-candy with friends, just to remind myself of that version of me again; that time in my life when my heart was still open to feel anything and everything life threw at me; that time when I felt most significant, most at home, and least alienated.