Memoirs. All Alone. In the moonlight
There is a retired husband and wife team in a memoir-writing class I teach. She is always putting down her writing; he is always lifting her up and encouraging her, telling her that she is, after all, published.
I enjoy these moments where I see that a relationship can be good, when I remember that I actually do want the right man in my life– not one who cares solely about my body, but who cares somewhat for my soul, who understands that the basis of love is friendship– two people mutually supporting each other and actively loving one another.
Part of my problem is that I am the rare person who actually sets out to learn from others’ mistakes. When I was in college (after the whole “high maintenance” fiasco), I actively sought out lectures on love and marriage. (I spent a lot of time in the psychology department. Psychology was not my major.)
I really listened to what lecturers had to say– how hard marriage was, how important it was to find the right person, to be healthy and whole, to have something to give.
So, I worked on myself– to know myself: my faults, my foibles, my fetishes.
But, it seems, the people around me did not take this same “learn from others” (some might call it over-analytical) approach. And yet, I have watched the disillusion and disintegration of nearly every marriage that got together during that time.
Were they over-romantic in their ambitions? Blinded, so to speak? Were they not “whole” enough? Was it just dumb luck? I don’t know.
On the one hand, I’m glad I harkened all those lecturers’ advice, as I am not currently in the throes of an ugly divorce. On the other hand, if I was pursuing this knowledge, it was because of the assumption that I would always find someone to settle down with, start a family– all the things we take as a given part of life.
Socrates said an unexamined life is not worth living– and I believe that wholeheartedly. The Beatles said “All you need is love.” I believe that too. Somewhere in there, there’s got to be a compromise– a person who has investigated herself and knows herself, but who can still find love and be cherished despite her inevitable imperfections– and love someone else despite (or perhaps because of) his.
I believe this can happen, and I believe it will– though my experience on the dating circuit has been rough ( to say the least) and the way so many men have tried to treat me makes it difficult at times to believe that a man can even love or cherish a woman.
I think it was Einstein (Maybe Edison– when it comes to details like quotes, I get these 2 “e” scientists mixed up) who said something like (and this is a gross paraphrase) “For every incorrect solution, we’re one step closer to the right solution.”
On optimistic days, I’d like to believe it’s like that with men– that every bad date means I am one step closer to finding Mr. Right.
And yet, it seems to work in the opposite way: that every step closer actually just leads me to the next big jerk.
It’s easy to get discouraged or to get a skewed view of men.
And so, I am grateful to couples like the one in my writing class who show me that real love, real friendship, real valuing of the other, can indeed exist between a man and a woman, and it’s not always an elusive fairy tale.