you're the kind of girl people write songs about.
said my friend, referring to me. she's right, too. there have been songs about me. and poems. and paintings. my ex-boyfriends were the perpetrators of these senseless acts of adoration.
why am i that girl? well, it's simple: art follows chaos (nearly exclusively so, in my estimation). and i am chaos. i want what i want with a burning, seething, impenetrable passion. i am equally as forceful in expelling from my life those things that i don't want. these two extremes make relationships into white-hot fireballs that eventually burn holes into the diaphanous drape that is love, until nothing is left but the ashes. in the afterglow, art rises up from the hearts of men. love, the magnificent phoenix.
there have been three men whose love for me was certain. not in the time i needed it to be or in the time they needed it to be, but certain as in verifiable at some point on the relationship spectrum, that point often being after the end. is it just me, my experience, or is the end of a relationship less of a resounding slam of the door and more like when the credits roll after a film? you know, where for all intents and purposes it's over, but you linger because you like the song playing in the background. or something. each of these three men said remarkable things: one told me i'm like a box of stars. another said, in retrospect, how he thought i shined when i walked into a room. the third, when asked when he'd like to take me on our first date, gave the most perfect response ever: yesterday.
my mom wants me to be married. i should try to be more patient with her, especially because what she doesn't know is that my aversion to the marriage conversation is purely practical, a way of avoiding explaining to her that no, of course i don't want to end up alone, but yes i am currently unwilling to be afraid enough of that prospect to do anything differently, and furthermore, i'm not convinced that doing anything differently will yield the commonly desired result of love-->marriage-->happily ever after. i'm not convinced that doing things my way is wrong. i never have been.
in all my years of traveling to places traceable both on a map and in the annals of my mind, i've met many people with smart and interesting and heart-wrenching things to say about love. relationships have been, like politics or a great brand of face cream, a topic of debate. not angry debate, just a lot of back and forth—is it or isn't it? should it or could it? that sort of talk. anyone i call a friend knows, if not in detail then in general, my magnum opus of failed relationships. it may not be a grand achievement to continually lose relationships, but it's more than grand to become something better than failure would have you be.
i am friends or at least friendly with every man i've dated, except for the witty singer whose path i never crossed again; the shallow, self-absorbed quasi-frat boy; and the silent wrecker. that last one, i was warned about. "he is the worst of the worst," one friend said. turns out she wasn't exaggerating. upon hearing his name, every.single.person. had a telling reaction: men would either smirk or scowl, and women would invariably respond with "i know alllll about him," because they or someone they knew had been involved with him. every woman in town had been involved with him, it seemed. he was a peculiar case; not your typical bad guy. not arrogant or mean, but negligent. abysmally so, as in merriam webster's definition 1c: immeasurably low or wretched. negligent in telling the whole truth, in being monogamous, in being grateful, and possibly in comprehending the grand canyon-like awesomeness of the hurt he caused. he had dire circumstances in life: "don't feel sorry for him. he'll do it to you, too," a few friends said. except i couldn't fathom not feeling sorry for him. i gave him so much rope he could've swung from here to eternity. some fools will hang themselves if you give them enough rope; others keep on swinging. my past with that man could torment me completely were it not for this: the grand canyon is both a product of destruction and a vision of magnificent beauty. it is infinitely better than the many failures through which it came to be.
the other day, the theme song from the movie tootsie came on the radio. i picked up my son and twirled him around and around in the small space between the counter and his high chair. he threw back his head and giggled, those two big front teeth peeking out. we danced, while whoever sang "something's telling me it must be you/i've got a feeling it'll just be you/all of my life." as i swung and dipped and kissed my giddy little boy, those lyrics were inescapable, and all i could do is what i do best: i wondered, about who my you might/could/should be or maybe the only one i'll ever need is here in my arms right now. then i chastised myself for humoring the ulterior motives of a stupid love song. so on we twirled, me and the best dancing partner ever.