My coworker just blithely informed me that she is "in love" with the newest man in her life. Let me break the scenario down for you... She's a thick, white girl--ahem, gurrlllll *snap snap snap*--and I have never met anyone like her before...she chases the brothers, shaking her booty at reggae and Trini (Trinidadian) clubs and bars, wanders around the floor humming Usher or Akon, and talks in strange slang that I find fascinating and confusing. During Caribbana she stripped down to a bikini top and bottom, along with a giant and feathery head piece, and pranced down Yonge to steel drums and much foofah. "H" is energetic and happy, always flitting from one thing to another, telling me wild and crazy stories about her nights out on the town or a flirtatious moment with a bartender or waiter.
Anyway, her last relationship lasted a couple months and was more on and off than my bedroom light switch. She vacillated between being angry at the man for being emotionally unavailable, and then reached heady peaks of pleasure and happiness. They just, like, got each other, know what I mean?
But after the relationship crashed and burned, here she is, once again throwing herself whole-heartedly, with reckless abandonment, into another man, already convinced after three or four weeks that they are in love and he can do no wrong. He's a Jamaican who will be unable to stay in Canada permanently, and God help me, I find myself skeptical (at best) about his motives. But she's in loooveeeee and it's the real thing!
What's the point of this rambling?
How does this woman recover so quickly from each relationship and bounce on with such vivacity to the next and the next and the next? I spend hours sobbing and watching P.S.: I Love You and The Notebook, journalling dark thoughts and ideas into my tear stained diary, listening to Damien Rice and John Mayer (doo dee doo I'm perfectly lonely, cos I don't belong to anyone and nobody belongs to me dum dee dum), and either binge eating or starving. There is no half hearted loving for me and the drop to rock bottom shatters me every time (Oh yeah, John Mayer has a plaintive lyric for that as well: how come the only way to know how high you get me is to see how far I fall?)
Even as I write this and think deeply about the human heart and our capacity to love, I find myself conflicted internally. For "H" I feel happy, jealous, doubtful, cautious, afraid, pleased, disbelieving... As history has proven over and over...all will go superbly well for maybe a few months, and inevitably things will slowly take their wear and tear, and ultimately fall apart.
I ask, how does one pick themselves back up after another broken relationship, and cheerfully start all over again with optimism and hope that this could be The One? How do you just move on from being so close to another human--physically and emotionally intimate in every manner? When it seems as though the entire world is rushing past you in a frenzy of love and energy, when you feel frozen in one spot, unable to move forward and desperately wanting to move backward and just get another, just one more chance to fix things...how do you step out from that place and join the living again? And more importantly--how do you embrace the next relationship knowing that it might be your destruction...again?
We do what humans do best: rebuild. We start from the base up with ourselves, attempting to clear out the rubble of the past. We find the tenacity to start all over because it's what people do. History screams out that truth. London was raided and rebuilt seventy-one times in less than a year during the Battle of Britain, the English spurred on by multitudes of inspirational speeches from Churchill (We shall fight on the seas and oceans...we shall fight on the beaches...we shall never surrender...), so we clear away the ruins like the English did time and time again. We try to restore our faith and hope, and sometimes when we're so hurt, we have to dig deep for the person we were before the storm. We soldier on, we press forward, we accept the grief and dwell on Tennyson's wise words: better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
What alternative do we have? Close ourselves off from the beauty of loving someone? Hide from relationships, fear of pain pushing us away from people? Bury your heart deep down so it can never be broken? Do we attempt to maintain space, between our hearts and people, in order to save ourselves from falling into love, and often past it into the abyss of brokenness?
There are two things that I cannot escape:
Love can be painful. People are going to hurt me, and I'm going to hurt someone. We're not perfect, we never will be, and we have accept that our relationships will be imperfect to some extent. The loving husband and wife who never raise their voices on tv are not realistic. We disagree, we fight, we argue, we debate--differing opinions, varied emotions is what makes people so interesting and unique. I look at marriages around me that are twenty odd years strong, and I still see flaws and imperfections, but I also see a deep love and commitment that has lasted through time and through the petty fights and squabbles. Love isn't always glorious, poetry inspiring, and wonderful. Love is what sees you to the end.
"Love" isn't always love. We can be infatuated with someone and barely know them! We can think that the dreamy guy who can play the guitar and sing is meant for us, OMG, but how do you know for sure? What am I basing my feelings of "love" on? I've learned the hard way how hurtful it can be to awaken feelings of "love" that were not real and were not lasting. Guard your heart and don't give it away freely to anyone who has a nice smile and a witty overture.
"H" interrupts my reverie. "We need a WalMart greeter here," she says, referring to the constant stream of visitors that somehow manage to get completely turned around and require redirection. They come to my desk looking for so-and-so on cardiology and insistently reiterate, "It's on the FOURTH floor! This IS the fourth floor! We took the elevators to the FOURTH floor."
Yes, yes you did...just, the wrong fourth floor. You got off on the right floor...in the wrong building, and it feels like there's some significance to that predicament, as if we charge into things with the best intentions, but sometimes the timing is off or it's not the right person, and we're as turned around and bewildered as the purple-haired elderly woman who struggles to understand how there is five different wings within one building. She pushes her walker slowly down the hall, determined to make it to her friend/lover/family, and we forge ahead needing to believe that it will all work out and we will make it somehow, the pieces glued together by faith or desperation to be loved.
I hope "H" has a long lasting and successful relationship...I hope that all those feelings she is experiencing, and that she joyfully shared with me, stay. I'm glad she still has the courage to give herself over and surrender to joy and pain of love. I pray you do too.