“So I did it.”
“Did what?” Jason was always coming up with something that he was sure was going to revolutionize the world and make us fabulously rich.
“I came up with an algorithm for love.” He was serious.
“For being in love, falling in love, what are we talking about?” Jason’s ideas were often on the edge of harebrained, so I was always a little skeptical, besides … love?
“No, for love, what love is and how you know it really is love.” He was so excited about the idea that I had to give in.
“Okay, I’ll bite. Show me.” This was a risky statement because the next three hours of my life might just be gone forever. But he was my partner.
“Here.” Jason plopped a large rolled-up document on my drawing table and flattened it out, placing a stapler, tape dispenser, pen cup and his keys on the corners to hold it down. He stood back proudly and pointed to the huge scribble of lines, boxes of different shapes, and arrows that all, ultimately, ended in a small box that said “Love.”
“But isn’t love an individual thing?” I thought it was a reasonable question. “How can you chart it out?”
Jason got even more excited and pointed to a shape in the middle of the page. “I’ve accounted for that. I’ve accounted for everything.”
He had pointed to a diamond that said, Your dreams? “See it conforms to each person’s desires.”
“That seems a little vague.”
Jason smiled at me. “Well, you have to go through the whole process.”
“And what if I do this and it turns out somewhere along the line not to be love? Do I just walk away?” I could see where this could be a huge waste of time. Then again, if it worked it could be huge.
“You can, or you can circle back to an earlier spot and work on it because you will know where it went wrong.” That, oddly, made sense.
“And what if the other person says no?” I was pretty sure he hadn’t factored that in.
“That is going to show up as a no for you along the way, because they are not right for you.” Interesting.
Jason became serious and stared at me. “I need you to do something for me.”
“What?” If this actually worked, it could be worth millions, maybe more.
“I need you to go back through all of your past relationships and see if it works, if it identifies where the relationships broke down.” He handed me a stack of papers that each had a smaller version of the chart.
“I can save you a lot of time and tell you right now why they all failed. The women didn’t appreciate me, except for Brandi, and she was just crazy.” I had lived through all of the relationships and I was pretty sure of my assessment.
“You might be surprised.” Jason grabbed his keys, rolled up his chart and tucked it under his arm. “Let me know when you’re done.”
When he got to the door, he stopped and looked back at me. “One thing … you have to be honest, or it won’t work right.”
Honest? I honestly believe all the women missed out, except Brandi, who was just missing something.
For the next two days, I went back through my old relationships, filling out the chart as I went.
There was Wendy, who ended at step three – Does she make you laugh? Mostly, she made me sad.
There was Lydia, who I lasted six months with. We only made it to step six – Does she make you want to come back home? Usually, I wanted to go home to get away from her … way too needy.
Debbie and I never got past step two – Do you like to look at her? Well, parts.
Samantha and I didn’t like the same things.
Jane and I liked the same thing – Jane.
After two days, I started to think that maybe it wasn’t Brooke, Cheryl, Emilie, Cherie, Lucy or any of the others that was the problem, but me. I made assumptions, pretended to be someone I was not, pretended they were someone they were not, and I backed away any time I got past step twelve – Can you see yourself as an old person with her?
If I was going to be honest with myself, it had nothing to do with them getting old, but a lot to do with not wanting to give up that much of myself to anyone.
And then I got to Brandi. Brandi was amazing, but she was crazy. She had been talking about being my girlfriend since we were in the sixth grade and we got paired up for square dancing on “Dance Day.”
We went out a few times, but she just wasn’t what I was looking for. I was looking for someone who was more like Hailey, who was the most beautiful girl at our high school. Brandi was cute, but she was no Hailey.
I worked my way through the chart for Brandi, expecting to reach an end, but as I thought through each box, I found myself agreeing and moving forward. I stopped about two thirds of the way through and set it aside. I called Jason.
“So, what do you think?” He sounded hopeful.
“I think there’s something wrong.” There had to be.
“With my chart … or with you?” Jason always thought he was funny.
It obviously wasn’t me. “I’m fine, it’s your chart that’s messed up.”
“Did it identify where your previous relationships went wrong?” He sounded more confused than challenging.
I had to admit that it had. “So far, but I’m having a problem with one.”
“Brandi?” I was surprised he would come up with her name, but then he knows she was crazy. I had been telling him about her for years.
“How did you know?”
“I’m the genius, remember? Besides, anyone who has seen the two of you together could see that you were crazy about each other.” He sounded just a little smug. And I didn’t want to admit that he might be right.
“You’re as crazy as she is.” I hung up before he could respond, but I had an uneasy feeling. There was something lurking at the edge of my consciousness that I didn’t want to acknowledge.
I looked at the chart for Brandi again, trying to find something wrong, but each decision was very clear and led me to only one conclusion – Brandi was my love. Each time I went through the chart, I remembered some special moment or feeling that I had forgotten, and slowly the reality overcame my denial.
Brandi didn’t fit my image of who I wanted to be with, but I felt good when I was with her, even when she was driving me crazy. No one else got to me the way she did.
I called Jason back. “Thank you, man.”
“For helping me see what I was missing … with Brandi.”
“On behalf of my genius, I accept your gratitude.” And it struck me.
“You did this, didn’t you?”
There was a short pause on the other end. “What do you mean?”
“You set up the chart so it would lead me to Brandi.”
Another pause. “It wouldn’t have worked if you didn’t feel it.”
“So, there is no algorithm for love?” I already knew the answer.
“Love is an individual thing. You said it yourself.”
“I’ll deal with you later.” I hung up the phone. I had to make a phone call.