I’ve had countless conversations with women, from terrible to terrific and everything in between.
However, a dozen quotes stand out from the rest. Here are the twelve most memorable things a woman ever said to me, and what I learned.
1. “If you asked me to marry you right now, I’d say Yes.”
We were standing on a random street corner near a random beach, and she hugged me, kissed me, and then let some honesty fly. She didn’t want me to let her go, but I didn’t take her affection as a compliment or even as an opportunity. I took it for granted.
I felt like I’d won her heart and that was enough. My work was done. I didn’t realize that love is something you can always lose, and I hadn’t learned that love needs to be pursued, created, and appreciated every day.
It turns out that love is one stiff breeze from blowing away and the whole world is stuck in a windstorm. Needless to say, we didn’t get married.
2. “I woke up in the middle of the night, freezing, you had all the covers, and there was a condom stuck to my leg.”
Love can keep you awake, turn you cold, steal the things you think you need, and occasionally surprise you, but you have to find the unexpected humor in life. Laughter sustains us, and where there is laughter, there is love.
3. “I love you, but I can’t be with you.”
And just like that, my heart broke. Again. I felt like love was a hitchhiker turning me down for a ride because my car wasn’t nice enough, except it wasn’t my car that wasn’t enough, it was me. I wasn’t good enough for love, and that hurt.
In response, I buried this painful thought deep in the cemetery of my mind. I hid it in a place I could easily avoid, but the damn thing was a zombie, awakening for years to come to haunt my heart.
My second lesson in the uncertain staying power of love, her admission was drenched in humility and bathed in raw truth: Sometimes the love of a lifetime doesn’t last your whole life. It was a hard thing to learn.
4. “Never apologize for being interesting.”
I was sorry for talking so much, for letting my passion overwhelm the moment, and for not giving her a chance to speak. I was sorry that when I get nervous, I ramble on and on and on, and I felt bad for that. I felt bad for being myself. In response, she made me feel important. I love her still.
5. “I want to be in love when I die. Is that too much to ask?”
We were sitting on our couch, the one from my childhood with countless memories stained and stored between the cushions, the TV proudly murmuring its usual nothingness in the background, when she turned to me with tears in her eyes and whispered a painful truth so beautiful that it felt like she was ripping the band-aid off of reality.
This was a rawness I had never experienced with my mom before, and it brought us closer. She made me appreciate the purity of honesty and the timelessness of a fleeting moment.
6. “Looking at your bookshelf, I have no idea who you are. It’s impossible to judge you by the books you read.”
She was young, and it was the first time she was in my house. Perusing my shelves, judging my decorations, and gently gliding her fingers along my walls, she stopped and stared at the books. Fiction and non. Poetry. Biographies. History.
All of them blended together on a single shelf, the various parts of me silently resting next to one another, side by side. It made me feel good to be an enigma to her. I discovered that mystery is the best kind of privacy.
7. “I don’t care who you are as long as you’re happy.”
Growing up is hard. There’s peer pressure, introspection, uncertainty. The world is big and scary, and the options are plenty. We can do anything and everything, and we seek easy comfort wherever we can find it — drugs, friends, adventure, isolation.
This is the only advice my mom gave me as a kid and I can’t think of anything more important than unconditional love. Often times, she would follow it up with, “Just don’t murder anybody, okay?“.
8. “I love you.”
I’ve heard it in airports and airplanes, on boats, taxis and buses. I’ve watched it whispered through tears and I’ve seen it yelled over the crashing shards of a shattered heart. I’ve felt it through fingertips and phone lines, and I’ve feared it in farewells in faraway places.
I’ve bathed in it on dirt roads and I’ve hidden behind it when I was weak and in need of something, anything, to lift me up. It is the perfect sentence. There is no better expression, no more flawless phrase, and I am blessed to have earned these words so many times.
9. “Have fun being single.”
She yelled this to me from the front yard as I was climbing into the passenger seat of a car. I was moving to Australia by myself for four months and we were just about to head to the airport. My girlfriend was driving, I was definitely not single, and she definitely heard what was said.
I thought perhaps my stepmom had misspoke, an accidental slip of the tongue, but the stare she shot me suggested otherwise. Her stare said, “Enjoy your freedom. Think about what you want. Choose your life carefully.”
Sometimes we need to hear the things we don’t want, before we can want what we need.
10. “You just earned yourself a blowjob.”
This was one of my first lessons in romance. We were at a nice restaurant, the kind where the waiters smell clean, and I filled her wine glass before it was empty. That’s what they did in the movies I’d seen, so it seemed like the right thing to do. Her response dropped my jaw.
I had no idea that manners could arouse women or that kindness could be feel so good.
That was how my grandma answered the phone. Her voice was so distinctive that I can hear it now as I smile and type this sentence. Raised in Argentina, she moved to America when she was a teenager and despite more than 50 years in the USA, she never lost her accent.
To her dying day, it remained strong and unique, just like her. As a kid I used to think it was weird that she never gave in to sounding like everyone else, but as I grew older I came to respect that her past hadn’t passed her by, that it was right there with her in every word she spoke.
Her voice was hers alone and she was fiercely protective of how she used it. There’s a lesson there.
12. “Come on. I’m wearing a dress. Let’s make a memory.”
Because when you really think about life, love and everything in between, the memories you make are all that matter. Creating a memory is the way to create a life, and it doesn’t require anything spectacular or out of the ordinary to accomplish. You don’t need wealth, instructions, or planning.
All you need is desire and, fortunately, desire comes in many shapes and sizes. Just like a dress.
So, there are a dozen memories from me. What about you?
What are the most memorable things anyone ever told you?