Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day is overrated. For all those who have been dumped, crushed, and heartbroken or are just miserable in this season of over-affectionate romance, take heart! You’re not alone. This post is part of Converge Magazine’s cynical celebration of heartbreak.
I was done with men. Or, rather, I was done with boys. It had been seven months since I broke up with my unhealthily dependent almost-fiancé. I was convinced it was impossible for a man to be anything other than insecure, immature, unaware of others’ needs, and ready to depend on whoever was naïve enough to support him.
Then, I met someone new. Okay, I didn’t meet him; he was on my television screen. He was in Vancouver competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and I was sitting on my futon in my pajamas thousands of miles away. But you better believe I worked hard to keep my television and antenna in the precise location where I could watch every moment of his progress.
His name was Evan Lysacek, and he was a champion figure skater representing the United States. He skated with such power, such skill, such commitment, such passion — and it didn’t hurt that he was the very definition of tall, dark, and handsome. I cheered along with the rest of my country as he narrowly edged out his Russian counterpart to win the men’s figure skating gold.
His skating, however, only got my attention. His behavior afterwards was what truly won my heart. Controversy over the judging system swirled, and silver medalist, Russian Evgeni Plushenko, gave the media his own less-than-gracious appraisal of Lysacek’s skills. Still, Lysacek responded humbly and genuinely. He repeatedly refused to take reporters’ bait to fire back at Plushenko. He even explained he understood Plushenko’s need to defend himself, as Plushenko was under immense pressure from his home country. I was awed by Lysacek’s poise and grace. Above all, I was impressed by his maturity. When asked what he wanted to do after the Olympics, instead of the customary, “I’m going to Disney World,” he admitted that training had made him self-absorbed and he wanted to do more work with charities. I may have swooned.
My crush (obsession?) continued past the Olympics. I did a fair bit of “research” (thanks, Wikipedia!). I monitored his dating status through pop culture websites. I asked my sister if she could track down his mom, who happened to live close to her town. I was appropriately indignant on his behalf when he came in second on Dancing with the Stars (after all, the winner that season had dancing background — not fair!). He appeared in more than one of my dreams.
A few months later, my dreams came true, at least in the sense I saw Lysacek in person. He was a headliner for the Stars on Ice tour, and nothing could stop me from getting tickets when the tour came within driving distance of my hometown. An in-demand performer, he appeared in the show less than any of the other skaters, but those moments were magical. If his skill and style impressed me on the television screen, it blew me away in person. I did my best to ignore the fact that most every other female in the audience felt the same way I did.
The show, however, came to mean more to me than just seeing Evan Lysacek. I went to Stars on Ice to see the dashing young figure skater, his Olympic gold medal fresh from the podium in Vancouver. In the process, I witnessed several other breathtaking performances, particularly from the pairs skaters and ice dancers. As the male and female performers glided across the cold, hard ice, their combined strengths and abilities painted an incredible picture of what a pairing of two equally strong and independent people could be like.
It turned out my infatuation with Evan Lysacek led to more than just me realizing I was still capable of being attracted to someone. In addition to helping me recognize characteristics important to me in a man, it also gave me a beautiful image for what is possible when two well-matched and capable people combine forces. In other words, my one-sided love affair with Evan Lysacek led me to discoveries beyond him. That’s what I’d hope from any love.
Photo (Flickr CC) courtesy of alexlc13