I was wasted eating a grilled cheese when I had the first impulse to say “I love you” to my girlfriend, Ryan. But when I caught a glimpse of myself in the restaurant bathroom mirror, ketchup in the corner of my mouth, eyes wildly unfocused, I was like, Mmm, better not. Then my fabulous editor emailed me to ask if I would try out a love spell and write about it. I was hype AF! I had a legit excuse to say what I had been thinking, and if it didn’t go over well, I could be like, Haha, it was all the spell's fault, not mine.
I told Ryan about the potential spell as we sipped overpriced Manhattans in a Brooklyn whiskey bar.
“It’s like any other night we have together, babe,” I said, trying to convince her. She's skeptical about horoscopes, so I figured she’d have the same aversion towards witchcraft. I, on the other hand, know I can't handle dating a Pisces and made my mom buy me a witchcraft book in Salem when I was 10 years old. I begged her to let me baptize myself with a snake for months after that.
"We’ll just light some candles and drink wine and say some super lesbian sh*t to each other,” I continued.
“Are you gonna sacrifice anything?” she asked, eyeing my fur jacket that she hates.
We are the definition of opposites. She is a responsible chapstick lesbian that eats full dinner before going out drinking, keeps her phone in an Otter Box, and always checks the prices of sh*t at the grocery store before placing them in her cart. I get too lit on the reg, need a wallet case on my phone because I forget to carry money otherwise, and don't shop for groceries unless you count ordering Pellegrino and KIND Bars on Amazon Fresh. I have no idea why we work, but we do.
“Noooooo,” I whined dramatically, slurping back the rest of my drink. “It’ll be fun!"
Like most times, she acquiesced. Now I had the perfect reason to say it. We would perform a spell together and then the magic words would come: I love you.
But then I drank another Manhattan and slurred it to her on the street outside the bar. I couldn’t wait! I’ve always had instant gratification issues. I had just been stopped by a photographer who asked to take my photo and as I posed in my fur coat and corset leggings, I looked over at Ryan. The way she was looking at me — like she was proud of me, not rolling her eyes or judging me for being the most extra human being on the planet — made my heart feel like it was going to explode. So, after the last snap of the camera, I couldn’t hold the words in. She said it back.
But momma’s gotta pay the bills (aka for my eyelash extensions and Brooklyn rent), so I still had to do the love spell. I enlisted the help of the fabulous Jaya Saxena, co-author of Basic Witches to get the scoop. I anticipated some "double, double, toil and trouble" stuff mixed with a rat's tail and the blood from my last period, Jaya’s advice for a love spell was actually v easy and v cute.
"Spells are not for making someone fall you in love with you,” she warned in her sweet but firm voice. She recommended that Ryan and I separately find or make objects to represent each other's qualities and place them in a small box. Then, we would present the objects to each other, describe what each one symbolizes, and say what we love about each other. Beautiful, no? Jaya said we could also do the same ritual with friends for a friendship spell! I realized spells are not so much about “making” anything happen, but rather about fostering human connection.
I invited Ryan for a weekend at my family’s beach house in Southold, New York, where I thought we could do our love spell on the beach. So romantic, right? Of course, I forgot my objects, and I forgot to tell her to bring objects, so we just YOLO-ed and improvised (basically how I live my whole life). I decided that if we drank red wine on the beach and said three things we love about each other; it would count as a love spell.
I'm gonna be honest: on the morning of the spell, I was pissed at her. I was washing out our Champagne flutes from our mimosa breakfast (we were on vacation, let me live), enjoying the hot water on my hand as I filled a glass, dumped it, then filled it again.
“You don’t have to fill up the entire glass, you know,” she said, wrapping her arms behind me. “It’s a waste of water.” She super into recycling and water conversation, while I find all that super boring. I felt the anger burn inside me. Sure, I’d like to conserve water but I have been washing glasses for 24 years. I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do or how to do it. Tears threatened to spill out onto my cheeks and I fought the urge to scream or slap her. (PMS is a b*tch and so am I.) I calmly explained I don’t like feeling controlled or told what to do. She retorted that it was for, like save the whales or whatever, and we got over it. Still, I held that in the back of my head and worried that maybe one day our new relationship energy would wear off and all we’d be left with would be our irreconcilable differences.
But I know that our love, respect, admiration and attraction toward each other are more powerful than our differences. Our differences are probably what keep us so close.
We traipsed to the rocky beach, stopping every time I twisted my ankle (sensible shoes are for losers). Once we reached the water’s edge, it was time to cast our spell.
“I love how beautifully you communicate with people,” I told Ryan. I fell in love with the way she always makes people feel comfortable and remembers little things about them and asks them questions about their lives. "I love how comfortable you make me feel." It amazes me that I don’t feel scared of commitment when I’m around her. “I love how smart you are.” When she gets all political on my *ss, it's the best. At the last minute, I couldn't help but add, "And I love how good and rough you sex me." Done.
She told me that she loves how talented I am, that I’m open about my insecurities, that she has a lit time with me, and that my ass is THICC. It was a beautiful moment, but the wind was whipping my fake hair and tangling it in my oversized earrings.
“Let’s go back,” I grabbed her hand. When I touched her, I felt like my heart was going to explode again.
“We should throw something into the ocean," Ryan said. "Or do something symbolic."
My teeth chattered and my gigantic earrings felt like a million pounds on my frozen earlobes. I was wearing a black tube top, leggings, and a baby blue leather jacket. She was wearing jeans with Calvin Klein underwear sticking out the top, a flannel, and a real-*ss winter jacket. Like I said, we're different.
“Let’s not and say we did,” I spun around with my half empty glass of Cabernet Franc. As we walked back to the nearby winery, I felt that intense feeling again — like my heart was going to explode out of my chest, because for better or worse, I am in love with this person. I forgot I was capable of feeling so much.
Back at home, we climbed into the shower together. I told this absolutely disgusting story about the time I went to the emergency room for cramps. The doctors had to do a sonogram, but they couldn't see anything because I was so constipated. I wound up needing an enema. As I brushed my teeth, toothpaste dribbled down my chin. That’s when I realized that I love Ryan because I can be truly vulnerable in front of her. Ceremoniously professing our love for each other by the ocean was a beautiful moment, no doubt. But if I can be this blissfully happy while looking gross and telling a story about being full of sh*t, that's real love right there.
I'm writing this in bed as she sleepily strokes my leg. I didn't think I would ever be here. But I'm happy and in love. And I didn’t even have to sacrifice a small animal to get here.