My parents just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary, which is more years than I've been alive and see, it's more years than I've been alive, simultaneously glorious and unfathomable.
They still behave like Statler and Waldorf, still sound like an Eastern European dubbing of a Venezuelan soap opera, where two people account for dozens of voices (I seem to have a small recurring role in it), still constantly bicker over things like father wanting to carry mother's purse because it weighs so much - and to be fair, after you've held it you do muse on what a splendid thing verticality is despite all odds, still thoroughly enjoy each other in a most sanguine way.
When I was in my early teens I remember starting to ask my parents how they'd gotten engaged. Mother always looked at me a bit perplexed and said 'Well, we always knew we wanted to get married...' And I, the product of many an American romantic comedy on the telly, would want to know how that could be, how could people know they are getting married without a proposal. Does one of you just happen to one day say 'By the way, I think August would be a perfect month for our wedding' and the other one replies 'Gosh, I was thinking exactly that'? It did my head in. Regardless of how many variations of 'But HOW....???' I produced the answer never satisfied me. Then I realised there was a thing called 'dating' and I found myself belly up, little legs jerking above my upturned carapace.
This is a recurring theme because I still can't understand any of it. My one consolation is having once watched a reality show about singles dating in NY and seeing a poor shell-shocked-looking Brit say 'I'm trying but I don't understand any of it, help!' He didn't really say 'Help' but I know he desperately wanted to. You go out with several people. You may even kiss (even shag?) all of them and no, that doesn't make you a whore in a culture that still can't cope with breastfeeding. [I am not including men here because they are never whores, yes? Just boy being boys, gonadally. The better to serve us!] You may go out for months but you are not a real couple, no matter the shagging and snogging and meeting friends and possibly family (am a tad unclear on the gradations here still), unless you've had The Talk. And then maybe you have The Talk, months go by, and you're now waiting for The Proposal simply must include one-knee action and preferably be as public as possible. (I'm generalising a bit but, if youtube can be taken as a reliable social indicator, nothing says love like a stadium.) And if your boyfriend is a tad slow on the lifetime committing you may very well have to give him an ultimatum. Or, better to perplex me, you both decide you will get married eventually, even sort out a few details, like where it's going to be done and what sort of a ring is deemed acceptable, and the he surprises her with it. He surprises her, ha! Seriously, what the frak?
But I grew up and my parents started making more sense as I developed my own notion of Love. When I was 20 I fell in love with a gorgeous, amazing boy who'd been an AFSer as well and, oh wonder, knew who the Watusi were. We talked like we had never been able to talk to anyone before and loved like you only do when you're 20, agonisingly, Fate-filled. We literally believed we were Meant To Be, chosen by the gods, glorified. We truly were a mythical couple and such was the intensity of our relationship that even a decade later, when I happened to meet someone who hadn't seen either of us in ages, they'd ask me about him because of course we would still be together. That went the way it most often does when you're 20, we burned so bright we oxygened out and it soon became clear that the Love of My Life had, rather, been the Passion of My Life. Sometimes in life it going wrong is what is right for you.
But I learnt this, you know when it is right, you know it in every little mitochondrial burst of energy, you do. You have to have that love that clicks into place easily and I may have swam in denial a tad in my past but that much I kept burning true. Relationships do require work but the healthy sort of love per se doesn't, is what I believe. With the right person, you know - and you also know when it's the wrong one, even as you choose to ignore it, so if you find yourself in a bit of a drama when the whole inadequate-to-begin-with thing blows up in your oh-lalala face due to your own poor choices well, buck up and give yourself a stern talking to because some crap does not bear repeating. And that's what I did.
After that messy break up (not really the break up, just what transpired afterwards) I decided things had to change. And by that read I had to change. You can't blame yourself for someone's lack of character but most people, not being sociopaths, aren't good actors and what you see is what you get, unless you choose not to, yey, cringe. [We've covered this extensively but even after all these years it's still embarrassing.] This was still very much the depured truth to me and I wasn't willing to compromise any longer, even unconsciously. So I manacled myself to this irreducible truth of mine and batted away the wrong sort energetically (and God did they find me, like a bloody beacon for the wankerish I was, but that's a story for another day). I felt lonely at times but there is such a thing as good lonely and all in all I was quite content with my life. Trite as it may sound, I didn't worry about it, I just had fun living it. People [Dear Rebbetzin, I'm looking at you.] kept telling me I had to go out and meet new people, good God, the horror! I love my home, I love staying home, I am not that social, seriously, the notion of having to go out every weekend fills me with horror. Contentment isn't an easy thing to come by and I liked my life, loads, so I didn't look for someone new and it wasn't because I was too busy kicking away the amoral, it was because my mystical trait served me well. I believed - Believed - that the right man would find me even if he had to come ring my bell.
Well, that's what happened, literally. Everyone, meet David.
|Amsterdam, 23rd of July 2012|