All I Want is You
The first time I heard "All I Want is You" by U2, I was a sophomore in college watching the film Reality Bites (1994), directed by Ben Stiller.
And the most recent time I heard "All I Want is You" was this past week while grocery shopping in my new neighborhood when it played on the store radio. As I pushed my cart through the aisles, I thought how much I had changed from the first time I heard this song until now. Yet, one thing remains the same--despite all I've been through and despite all the things I thought I had outgrown--I still hope to one day be in a loving, healthy relationship, one full of simple promises and achievable goals.
My most recent relationship had a lot of promise--so much promise that we were married. Over the course of that marriage, I heard promise after promise of how things would become better. No, he wouldn't enroll in anymore school when he worked two jobs. No, he would not continue being a deputy. No, he would not enroll in graduate school for at least a full year after he graduated with his bachelor's.
One by one, those promises crumbled. In the meantime, my writing stalled because all the household chores such as cleaning, making dinner, taking the trash, and others fell to me. When I wasn't working as a teacher, I was keeping house or grading papers. But there was always a promise of more free time, more involvement, more partnership. I heard all this talk and pleading. If I could just wait a little longer.
I waited over 10 years.
So, when I hear this verse in "All I Want is You," I hear it differently than I ever did:
You say you'll give me a highway with no one on it
Treasure just to look upon it
All the riches in the night.
You say you'll give me eyes in the moon of blindness
A river in a time of dryness
A harbor in the tempest.
The repetition of "you say" accomplishes several things: how often You makes promises, how much hope the singer feels that You will keep those promises, and the wry irony that everyone knows that You will never fulfill what she says she will. I feel that singer's hope because I once felt the same way. Yet, like the singer, I knew those promises would never come to pass.
That still doesn't keep the singer from posing a promise of his own--a simple promise he can keep. All I want is you, he swears. I believe he means it and means to keep that promise. No matter what, he'll want her--through the storms when there is no harbor, through a crowded highway, through times of lean financial security. All he wants is You.
I remember feeling like that. My then husband had all these elaborate plans of getting ahead. He wanted early retirement, he wanted to amass as much money as possible so we could live an easy life later, and he wanted to make sure he was the man of the house--providing and taking care of me. However, I worked, too, and earning my own money remains important to me. What I wanted more than anything was for us to be a couple who couldn't wait to get home to each other, who would share our day's events, and would check in with what ideas/challenges/problems/and mundane stuff with the other.
My experience in my marriage was one-sided discussions about his work, and, though I did want to hear about his day and his work, I wanted him to ask me about mine, too. I wanted him to want to know what writing project I had been working on, what book I was reading, what song moved me to tears, and what ideas I found most important.
I wanted him to show as well as say...
All I Want is You
My marriage changed how I view the phrase "I love you." It was said often. However, it was not shown nearly as much. I heard I was loved, but I did not feel it. It is very likely I gave back what I received.
For awhile, I was afraid I'd always end up in relationships like my marriage.
Yet, ever since my first post about David Harbour, I have thought about the man I'd like as a partner: if he's out there, I hope that he wants me completely, just as I am. I want to be shown love more than I hear words expressing it. I know I will share with my man the very emotions I hope to receive.
How do I know?
Because my heart is ready to love again. I thought it was ready a few months ago, but it wasn't. My heart then was focused on not being alone. I probably would have dated anyone who asked me out. As a matter of fact, if you look at the online dates I went on and the ones that just never materialized, you'd probably say I did go out with anyone who asked.
That attitude is what led me to every single one of my failed relationships. I excused it by saying I was tired of bursting into tears at every love song or romantic gesture in a movie. I was tired of the pang of longing I'd feel when seeing an onscreen kiss.
I tried all kinds of love advice just to stop feeling so isolated, invisible, and unwanted. The desperation of getting a boyfriend as soon as possible clawed at me. It was all I thought about for months.
Then, I didn't.
So, as I listened to U2's "All I Want is You" in the grocery store, I realized that my heart didn't crumble at the lyrics. I didn't long for someone to wrap his arms around me, nuzzle my neck. I marveled at how fine I felt, how wonderfully confident I was shopping on my own buying things for the weekend that satisfied only me since my son was at his dad's. I bought myself flowers and black olives. I planned to sit on the sofa, drink wine and eat olives while watching The Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce, all activities I consider a perfect indulgence.
And I thought how lucky a man would be to share this time with me--how lucky we both would be to feel completely wanted by the other.
On that shopping trip, I felt...hope. Real hope.
For the first time in two years I looked forward to all the possibilities that lie ahead--career-wise, romance-wise, and friendship-wise. I celebrated all I had rather than focused on what I didn't. And I made a promise in the baked good aisle that I would one day spontaneously dance with my partner--though I have no idea who or where he is--and lean in so I can whisper, "All I want is you." It's a promise I know I mean, and it's a promise I can always keep.
(Quick inclusivity announcement because it's important to me: I do operate on the binary; however, this song is wonderfully gender ambiguous, so you can imagine whatever you identify with best.)