Did you ever have those conversations with someone which suddenly makes you look at something under a totally new light?
I was talking to a friend this past week who’s been married 20 years to her high-school sweetheart and the past 4 years have been rocky but there’s a kid involved as well as investments so she compromised and gets by…barely. She was describing something which I have also noticed and heard about in other relationships, how her partner doesn’t like it if she’s out of the house for too long, if she wants a few days to herself, he causes a stink. Or even if she wants to spend the afternoon with a girlfriend at a coffee shop, how he starts calling or texting her within an hour wanting to know when she’s coming home. How he basically, literally just wants her physically in the house all the time or when he’s there.
This blew my mind. Both are highly educated professionals yet dude is still acting like a caveman in terms of her personal time and space? Why are men still hung up on this sort of power-trip? Moreover why do men use their partners like some sort of security blanket like Linus in the Peanuts gang did?
She then told me to cherish my freedom, develop my other interests and to never rush into anything and how she wished she had waited longer before getting seriously involved with someone and that marriage before the age of 30 should be outlawed.
I thought long and hard after our exchange mostly because the timing of it coincided with my elderly father, a widower, taking a nasty fall this week at a subway station. Luckily a very kind nurse who was on her way home, saw what happened and helped him stay propped up and immediately called the ambulance and then called my brother and I using his cell phone. He’s fine now but it got me thinking about who would have been there to fill in the important details to the doctors and stay with him in the hospital if he didn’t marry and have children and take the time to build those relationships. How do you weigh building community and meaningful relationships while not disrespecting and dishonoring your own freedom? Is that even possible within the context of a marriage anymore?
Having said that, FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter and Google have got the be the best things ever to hit regret.
I guess like all girls out there, you’re always curious about some people in your past, wondering what happened to them, old boyfriends, girls who were mean to you in high school, your best friend from the second grade. Now it’s easy as pie to look up anyone on the face of this Earth. I come from probably the last generation of teens and young adults to have experienced the world before the Internet and social media. In fact, I used to write letters by hand and send greeting cards in the mail (remember those?).
I came across a YouTube clip of an old boyfriend, probably my first serious one. I remember being devastated when it ended, how the sky was falling, how I wasn’t hungry and barely ate for weeks, listening to silly love songs over and over again on my Sony Walkman, how I didn’t think I would ever meet anyone or love anyone as beautiful as he was. All the usual high-drama stuff we put ourselves through especially at the ripe old age of 18.
Well, he looked awful.
Long-gone was the stunning, lean, mean rockabilly badboy with the black hair, flashing green eyes and diabolical smile. Instead, there was some guy with the beginnings of a double-chin, a major gut, ugly tattoos all over his forearms, and from what I understand, is now the father of five. I also saw a whole bunch of irritating mannerisms which my 18 year old brain failed to pick up at the time which now I see as fairly obvious. I felt happy to be free.
This then led to a John-Cusack-in-“High-Fidelity”-moment where I decided to check up on every guy I ever crushed on or lusted after, out of curiosity. (I have to admit, I’m not a nostalgic person about past relationships. If it’s gone, it’s gone and deader than a doorknob. However, I can be an incorrigible and inquisitive snoop and gatherer of gossip just for the fun of it.)
I won’t give a low-down of every single bit of information I found but suffice to say I really think I have been spared in some way. Most are slightly overweight suburban dads with bloated faces and beer guts. Half are now bald or with rapidly receding hairlines. One is a very well-known documentary film maker who is still alone at the age of 58, the eternal bachelor. One battled alcoholism and it really shows. I guess the married ones must be happy or else why would they stay married? But given what my friend said, and the many similar relationships I’ve noticed over the years, you really have to wonder who is the happy one here, the guy or the gal?
I used to think rejection was some kind of judgement against me. Now I’m beginning to see that when things don’t work out, consider it a slight shove from the Universe in pushing you out of the way of an oncoming train wreck, that it wants you to wait and is giving you the gift of time to develop other gifts as well as your own ability to discern with maturity. We don’t always hear that message in a youth and speed-obsessed culture like ours but it’s one, I think, we’d all be better off heeding.
Here’s a lyric from New Order’s song, “Regret” which sort of encapsulates what I mean. (MRB, this one is for you)
Maybe I’ve forgotten the name and the address
Of everyone I’ve ever known
It’s nothing I regret
Save it for another day
It’s the school exam and the kids have run away
I would like a place I could call my own
Have a conversation on the telephone
Wake up every day that would be a start
I would not complain of my wounded heart
I was upset you see
Almost all the time
You used to be a stranger
Now you are mine