Are you living life as if it was a romantic comedy?
If my teenage years had a soundtrack, it would resemble Pretty in Pink meets the Smiths, with some Depeche Mode and B52s thrown in. Because, you know, we all have a soundtrack to our formative years. And they lasted from vinyl and radio to CD and MP3 and satellite. If I had Pandora, it would be that channel.
Desperation, in its nascient form. Sexuality defined by John Hughes social angst and John Cusack optimism. Where was my Eric Stoltz? I am older, wiser now, and I still want to know, where is he?
Lately, I have been in the odd place of being the friend in the solid relationship with friends who are dating or other. This is a turn around, and then I have to hope that I am not becoming the "married friend" in the movie who has become oblivious due to suburbopia. Thankfully, I will never have to consider purchasing a minivan. The "kids" are on their second half of the teenage years. They have their soundtrack, and it's not as nice as mine. I am thrilled that it is not I who has to navigate the murky water of dating after 40, after divorce, after kids, after menopause, after any of that.
I realized today that I no longer have that need to act out the insane gestures and pursue the signs of the universe that are planted throughout the average romantic comedy. We know a good story must have a hero, a journey, a struggle. We want our love life to be a good story, no? We generate conflict when we don't need it, to see if the spark lights up our kundalini. Half the time we just burn down the house. We make up stories about the hows and whys something has to be a certain way, but don't recognize it is based on how we were in the past- with someone else- instead of how we are willing to be in the future. If there was a Lloyd Dobler on my lawn (and I do have a balcony with a lawn), I'd no longer swoon for that lovesick shit.
Is there such as a thing as good romantic reality? Need it be all drama and slapstick? I think of the lovers of the past, the ones who would still make my hair stand on end if I was to see them again, and I realize that most of that is pure fear of the roller coaster ride. I think of the relationships that had all sorts of drama for no good reason, other than apparent boredom and need for control. My life doesn't have the drama anymore, and the romantic gestures still exist on more life size scales. I am not exactly Molly Ringwald, but I am not exactly not her either. I just try not to mope around and wonder what it all means anymore.
I realize that trying to date with kids and a divorce and custody in the mix are just a circus. There is almost no way to make it work well for everyone. Not impossible, but it apparently takes years of practice and utter failure to realize that perfection is not possible. I have a lot of sympathy for my friends going through this, and I understand why my singaladies would rather stay in than deal with it. Now I have two men friends who must navigate the waters of life, love and dating and they are almost as disillusioned as the women. As they are fathers, they have a lot more to care about than they did as teenagers. I do my best to be supportive, honest, and encouraging. And wonder how humanity has made it through all this when it's clear that there are more than anyone's fair share of crazy people out on the streets looking for looooooooove.
Recently, I had to tell a friend to please stop trying to date. I understand she is lonely and has desires, but she really has nothing to give a relationship at the moment. Her divorce isn't final, and although long separated, it consumes hours and hours of her time each week, between custody and lawyers and courts. Her child is young, and demands 110% of her attention. She has a lot of responsibilities that she is struggling to maintain. If you can only give a very limited amount of your care and focus to another person, how can you expect to get a good loving relationship from it? If it is reduced to a few scheduled hours of entertainment and sex, it can't go much beyond that. Love takes time, after all, and we have so little of it anymore. Most of us are unwilling to throw our jobs, our families, our friends, our health to the wind to chase down the sparkle of someone's eye. Anymore, that is. We choose sleep over sex, since we know that the likelihood of good sex appearing is less than 50% anymore, and we would still need the sleep.
Sigh. I realized today that we are well past the romantic comedy part of our relationship, and instead of panic I felt a sense of relief. We won't need friendly go betweens, we won't need meetcute at the cafe/bookstore/art show. Going to these places as a couple is totally different than as a single. The possibility of meeting someone no longer creates the framework, it is no longer the subtext of being somewhere. I tried to imagine what it would be like if I was on the market, today, and the constant demand to be cute, funny, interesting, well groomed, entertaining and accommodating would probably keep me on the monastic path. And writing a the romantic comedy of meeting in a monastery after giving up on dating, somewhere, in the back of my mind. A little OMD, with lots of flute and sitar, this time.