Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What's Love Got To Do With It?

All throught this blog, which has spanned the course of one year of my life, I have discussed my relationships and issues with men. I've talked about what I want in a man, the trouble I had finding one that matches my needs and wants, and I have touched upon my stormy past with certain young men. But never once have I truly broached the subject of love.

There have been great sonnets and renowned literature written about love. If not for the concept of love, Hollywood and the music industry would not have made millions. Real people have lived for love and died from it. The word is tossed around so carelessly in our culture. "I love that shirt!" "Have you heard the new Madonna song? I totally love it!" (Yes, I have heard it. And yes, I totally love it.)

But what does love truly mean and what form will it take in my life? What form do I want it to take? What do I expect when I hear those words or feel that emotion from someone?

I suppose each individual's first impression of love is that of their own parent's relationship. I got lucky. My parents were college sweethearts and were married after only nine months of courtship. They are currently approaching their 40th wedding anniversary. When asked how they got married so quickly, my mom just answers "I just knew." I can't decide if I like a hair color enough to keep it for nine months, much less the rest of my life...

I want a marriage like my parents': supportive, understanding, compassionate, passionate and stable.

My parent's relationship reminds me of that story of the two swans on the farm. A grandfather is telling his grandson about how swans mate for life. One day, the female swan is found dead in the pond and the male swan is visibly upset. The grandson says that the male will find someone else - he'll be okay. The gradnfather predicts that the male swan will soon die from grief over his partner. A few days later, the male swan is found dead in the same spot as the female swan. Soon after, the grandmother passes away, followed a few months later by the grandfather. My parents are like that. It's not that they physically can't live without each other in some sick, addictive, co-dependent's that they don't WANT to live without the other one.

Their love has transcended the passionate infatuation and graduated to this state of complete connectedness and partnership. They aren't just a married couple - they're best friends. I want to marry someone who is my best friend because one day the initial passion will face and I will have to have something left over. Unfortunately...statutes set by the state of Texas and because she ran off with a Mexican sailor...I can't marry my best friend Amy. Just kidding. But weirdly enough...she did marry someone exactly my height and with a similar personality. :)

Have I ever been in love? I've been infatuated. I've been filled to the brim with lust. I've been co-dependent. I've worn the blinders. But the type of love that my parent's have? Even the prospect of that love? Nope. Never even close.

I know that someday I will have that love. Will it happen like in my favorite love indulgences The Notebook, Love Actually or Gone With The Wind? Will I be awoken by my true love's kiss after biting a poisoned apple? Will I get a letter from God telling me the plans he has for meeting my true love? Probably not. But I have faith. I will have that love in my life eventually because I want it. And I always get what I want.

I know what I do have though. I have a best friend. A drinking and watching sports buddy. An "I'm having a horrible day and need a hug" support system. A conversation-just-by-a-look psychic partner.

I have seen this person at his absolute worst and it terrified me. It was so frustrating - being able to so clearly see all the amazing things I loved about him; the reasons I was his friend. But he couldn't see it for himself. Because I was his friend, I didn't fix him...for once...I allowed him the space and time he needed to do it for himself. Like I told him "I will support you 110% as long as you're doing something positive to change you life." And he has come through a completely amazing person - which is even more reason for me to be proud of him and love him. He supported me through a devastatingly depressing time in my own life through which I was repeatedly hurting both myself and the people around me. But he didn't abandon me despite my constant pushing away. I hated myself so much and I didn't want anyone in my life to be a part of it. But he was persistant. He loved me when I couldn't love myself.

But everything about our friendship hasn't been doom and gloom. We've laughed at inane and ridiculous things, we've celebrated each others victories and talked shit about our defeats. We've high fived at Mav's games and grumbled about the Cowboys' playoff loss.

Our friendship hasn't reached the point when I could say that I know everything about him - because even my mother quotes that she doesn't know all of the recesses of my father's mind. But, I can anticipate what he is and isn't going to say, how he will feel about something and most importantly...I know when to just walk away and let him be.

I once asked him "What do you like about me?" And he, being the enormous wordsmith that he isn't, just shrugged his shoulders and said "I just like who you are." At first I was completely frustrated with his lack of response. I delve into topics, entirely dissceting it to the nth degree. I could be that person writing the sonnet about what I like about him becasue I am never at a lack for words. How his eyes twinkle when he knows he did or said something that made me laugh. His total and unwavering loyalty to the people he cares about in his life. The way he truly doesn't care about what people think of him. The list could go on.. But he just summed it up in six words for me. I pressed for more specific information, but there was none forthcoming. I had to be content with what he said. So, after chewing on the words for awhile, I came to a conclusion: I am who I am and he likes that. It's that simple. I don't have to put on pretenses about who I am. I don't have to change myself in order to be more appeasing to him. I just have to be myself. Which has proved repeatedly to be one of the more challenging tasks in my life. He has provided me with a reason to be okay with myself - he accepts my slight craziness, my occasional outburst, all of it. He wipes away the previous notion that I held about being completely unlovable. Sure, I know there are things about me that he gets frustrated with - I have a hard time making decisions at times, I overreact about small issues and stress myself out, you know - I act like a girl sometimes. He just takes it all in and rolls with it.

But, is this love? I can look in his eyes and be moved. I am comforted by his presence. I am so filled with contentment at the sight of his personal happiness. I worry about him overworking himself. We can sit in silence together and it's not awkward.

I don't know if it's that lifetime love, but I know that he's my best friend and I don't want to not have him around in my life.

Graduation doesn't mean education...

The WE network on television (yes I do watch it...even better - I ENJOY it!) has an interesting show on Monday nights called High School Confidential which chronicles the lives of several teenage girls throughout the four years of high school. In watching this show, I am in somewhat of a purgatorial position. Although I graduated high school almost 7 years ago, I don't feel much older than I did at 18 when I graduated. In some ways, I feel much younger. Graduating high school, I felt on top of the world. I had completed my mandatory 12 years of public education. Technically, I had learned everything the state felt was necessary to produce a functioning human being, and I did it quite well; graduating with honors while escaping minimal reputation tarnsh and with a fair amount of trust and respect from my parents. I had everything figured out - relationships, finances, friendships, religion and politics...nothing was going to change. I was ready to take on the world and I had every confidence that my life was going to be charmed and special.

I was a tad bit naive.

The premise of the show is to follow these girls throughout their high school years and document the different experiences the girls have navigating a large high school, which is eerily similar to the one I attended. There are some girls on the show that I would have been friends with - the girls that were involved and moderately popular in school, but struggled with the battle of good and poor life decisions. There are some girls on the show that, unfortunately, I would never have known existed in my school. Looking through my senior yearbook at all the names and faces that are utterly unrecognizable are a testament to this fact.

I entered the 10th grade with the facade of a hopeless gooy-two-shoes involved in every activity and a head full of possibilities. I graduated my senior year a little bit more cynical and a lot more cautious. In the years that have followed, I have realized that while everyone might grow older, not everyone truly matures. And maturity means a significant more than suppressing giggles during sex scenes and being able to sufficiently hold your liquor.

How have I changed since high school? And have these changes produced a mature adult?

I guess I'll have to start with my definition of an "adult."

Being an adult means...
- resisiting the urge to audition for the Real World because you realize these kids stay up way past your bedtime.
- flipping past the Top 40 and hip hop radio stations because as an evolving woman and human being "apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur" are no longer an acceptable part of my wardrobe.
- finally understanding what my parents meant when they said "nothing good ever happens after midnight." Except for Conan O'Brien of course.

In all honesty, when I graduated high school I defined "adulthood" as having a real job and paying bills...on time. Adulthood isn't a checklist you can evaluate a year after graduating high school or college. It's not a gold starred diploma that arrives in the mail once you've secured your first IRA. You won't find a clause on your marriage or child's birth certificate stating that in signing these papers you have earned the title of "ADULT."

So, am I an adult yet? Well, I've certainly grown in the seven years since I graduated high school. I redefined what I need and want in friendships. I don't have nearly the circle of friends I had in high school and college, but yet the few people that are in my Circle of Trust are incredibly supportive and fulfilling relationships. I am slowly learning that a person's worth cannot be measured by the amount of clothes in a closet, but instead by the positive impact made on the surrounding environment and people. I know now that life isn't a competition to win at EVERYTHING...because that person who is always stressed about being the best and having everything first will most likely reach the ultimate finish line earliest...and have nothing memorable to show for it. I am learning to see the forest and not the individual trees. I am learning that I am my own person and I must live my life to make only myself happy. If I am confident that I am making the best life decision for myself, then that's all that matters.

And yes, I have also learned to pay the bills on time.