You know something? For everything I have done in my life, I have never fallen in love. A thirty-six year old woman – educated, sophisticated, attractive – and I have never been in love, or been loved in return. I had always envisaged myself to be married with children by this age, but it has not come to pass. Fate has not led me down a path that has allowed this for me.
Perhaps it is that I do not actually know how to love any longer. I have spent so long hiding and burying my emotions that I am unsure of what I am capable of feeling any more, if anything at all.
Being a Watcher is the loneliest of vocations. Knowing from the start that those you would come to care for will be irrevocably lost to you is a sobering thought. Knowing that your charge, your Slayer, was recruited to ultimately die, and, even worse, that they are aware of that fate, makes you realise how transient life is, and how important love can be to make that short life just a little bit more bearable.
It was for that reason that I watched Jen, Jonas and Jed with a bittersweet longing. Even though Jen is fully aware of her ultimate fate, she seems to be unafraid of exploring her feelings for the two boys. Both clearly adore her, and it is obvious to even the most casual observer, even to me, that she loves not one, but both of the young men vying for her affections. I have never once been in that predicament myself. In fact, I have never once been in a relationship. Thirty six, and I do not know what it is to feel love for another. I am almost ashamed.
I didn’t even dare to experiment with my emotions at Jen’s age. Too immersed in my studies, I mistook physical gratification for something meaningful, and by the time that I realised that there needed to be more than just lust, I was satisfied with the convenience of sex alone, and found myself unwilling to get involved and invest my energies in something deeper.
Maybe, even then, I was too afraid to let myself feel anything. Maybe fear of letting someone into my life was colouring my decisions, even that long ago. I have always liked being in total control of my life, of my emotions, of my surroundings. Perhaps I was allowing myself to love and be loved as a weakness. Perhaps I was too afraid and too unwilling to share any meaningful part of myself with another.
Yet these feelings, or lack thereof, would have flown directly in the face of my unshakeable desire to have children. You see, in my mind, children have been inextricably linked with a partner, a settled home, my ideal, peaceful existence, yet I have none of this. The decisions I have made throughout my life have ensured that what most people take for granted, a normal existence, is not possible.
It is not that I have not wanted to fall in love. I have often wished that I was able to find someone who I could feel enough for. However, on the rare, fleeting occasions that I have felt something other than a physical connection with someone, I have reasoned with myself that the timing was wrong, or that I needed to concentrate on other things. I have always found a reason to put my emotions second, even before Max Thames. Max was simply the catalyst for me to remove all emotion from my life, and to even excise physical closeness with others. It wasn’t his fault; I was probably always on the precipice of letting go of pleasure and comfort – he was just the nudge I needed to tip me over the edge.
Perhaps, had I had the courage at Jen’s age to explore the feelings that were creeping up on me, I would not be this emotionless shell now. Maybe I would not be actively seeking to exclude others from my life. Most likely, I would not have become a Watcher, would have resisted their invitation while at university.
Watching the three teenagers flirting, I felt a cruel longing. They were experiencing the first flush of love, the first stirrings of teenage adoration that had bypassed me with a vengeance, and the thought that I was never meant to love snakes its way into my mind. Hastily, I dismiss this notion as both foolish and foolhardy; after all, I am only thirty-six, hardly in my twilight years, and I might yet surprise myself. But somehow, I doubt it. After all, I am moving around from place to place, never settling for more than a few weeks at a time. It is barely enough time to get to know those I work with, much less forge more than a passing acquaintance with anyone.
I found myself feeling both jealousy and resentment as I watch Jen, oddly mixed with a strange sense of pride. Despite knowing her destiny, she has the courage to give herself and her feelings freely, the fortitude to put her emotions on display and see what happens. It is something I have never been able to do, have never felt comfortable or confident enough to risk. It amazes me that she can live her life to the full in that way, not stopping to think about what tomorrow may bring.
Maybe that was my problem. Maybe I have thought too much about the long term consequences of anything I might do, rather than letting myself feel and experience things, love life, as it happened. While thought may have helped me with my chosen career, it may have hindered how I live my personal life. Sometimes, there is a lot to be said for losing control, for giving up to your feelings. I want to feel the first rush of elation as you realise you are falling headlong in love. I want to be able to allow someone into my life, to share it with for the first time.
I am afraid that it is too late. I am afraid that I will never know what it is like. I am afraid that there is nothing left in me for someone to love.