The Purgatory of an Endless Crush

Forever living in the space between desire and futility

Adeline Dimond
11 min readJun 18, 2021
Pope Saint Gregory I Frees the Souls from Purgatory With His Prayers, 1731, Francesco Fontebasso (From the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access Collection)

My crush is twenty-five years old. Not the man himself. He’s fifty-one, born in 1970 like me, and I’ve thought about him for at least a quarter of a century by now. We will never get together, but my desire never goes away. This might be the definition of Purgatory.

Long before I met this guy — let’s call him Rigatoni, because why not? — I spent a year in Florence, wandering through churches, staring at frescoes. I smelled the cool plaster walls, tattooed with paint. For a gal who grew up in California, raised by sunlight, dust and mini-malls, these churches were a revelation: dark, cool, quiet, housing ghosts and history. It may have been the first time it occurred to me that the world didn’t start and end with me. That I had to reach (early) adulthood to learn this lesson is appalling, but to be fair I was a spoiled brat from Los Angeles.

My teachers gave up teaching me the dates of important events early on, because I just didn’t care. I did care, quite a bit, about what people were cooking and wearing in the past; how they lived day-to-day. I couldn’t get enough of the mundane details of long-ago lives. I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and focused on what she cooked Almanzo for dinner. When Laura got the Sears catalog — that was a big…