Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fear & Longing

I started plugging in dates to price tickets for going home for the holidays, and I realized that one of the reasons (besides the price) that I've been putting it off is because I'm really going to miss my boyfriend when I'm gone (insert vomiting noise here, yeah).

It's stupid, lame, and, I suppose, a fleeting feeling. We've been going out less than two months (we were friends for a couple months before that as well). *Everything* looks better at the beginning. Eventually, you get sick of each other, or he stops saying "I miss you" and he dumps you cause it's too serious or you dump him (or her) because the idea of an entire future together is just too terrifyingly permanent, like death.

The thing is, everybody tells you how to fall in love. There are tons of movies and songs and media sobfests and bitchsessions all about how to start up a whirlwind romance. It's hot and fun and you laugh and have a great time.

You start a lot of romances in your lifetime, but nobody ever teaches you how to *stay* in love. Nobody teaches you how to stay together.

It's like a writer who never finishes a book. You've got all these great beginnings. You're great at writing beginnings. But slogging through the middle? Wrapping up the end? You've got no experience with that.

Falling is easy, sticking is hard.

At least in the case of writers, we have lots of more or less successful examples to look at to teach us how. But in real life? How many really loving, successful relationships do you see? Relationships where people stayed together for some reason other than "well, I can't do better" or "we can't afford to break up" or "I guess it would hurt the kids if we split."

And maybe that's the thing - at one time or another, what kept some longterm couples together was just that one thing. Some fatalistic thing, and they pushed through it, and things were better (as Steph once half-jokingly said to me "Me and the Old Man got engaged because we needed more than love to keep us together"). But man, you know, my fear of getting stuck in a relationship that's ALL that - that's based on two people sticking together out of something other than wanting, something less than mutual respect and friendship... that's hard to swallow.

The problem with constantly waiting and worrying over the ending of a relationship is that you lose all the good stuff in-between. You miss the missing; you fail to enjoy the laughter, the amazing sex, the verbal sparring, the pancakes in the morning, because you're always waiting for that moment when you lose it.

Thing is, I guess, I already lost this particular boyfriend once for one miserable week where we both looked and felt like death. We came back to it, because being miserable sucked goats, and we laugh a whole hell of a lot more together than apart, but how long does that last? How long until the next time? Until one of us flips out again or we get bored with each other? Maybe once we're bored with each other, the break won't be as painful, or as hard. We can hope.

Thing is, you know, I'm tired of being afraid of everything and living through something expecting it to end. I'm tired of writing hot beginnings whose tough middles I can't make it through. I want an ending hotter than my beginning, and a middle that's hotter than both. I just don't have a roadmap on how to do that.

People talk a lot about the sort of courage it takes to be a writer, to put yourself out there. It takes a lot of courage to live fully, too, to put your heart out there. It's going to hurt either way. Sometimes it's pretty scary not knowing where you're going. Exhilarating, terrifying, beautiful. An adventure. But fucking scary.

We lose everybody, in the end. If not to a breakup then to death or disaster. The ending always comes, whether or not we're prepared for it. Unlike fiction, there's no putting it off or setting it aside.

I want to find out how this one is going to end, no matter how much it scares the hell out of me. Because I wouldn't trade this beginning for anything, even if it's going nowhere; even if it ends tomorrow.

3 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

rt said...

this reminds me of a wedding i went to last weekend. they used that stupid 1st Corinthians passage about "love is always kind, love is always patient, love is never jealous" (paraphrased) which i just hate. because to my eyes, that's not how the people in love act. yes, sometimes it's like that, but it's also a lot of times that you're annoyed at your partner, or impatient, or whatever. it's such an idealized gloss on the situation and sets people up not to deal with the normal problems and annoyances of two people sharing a life together, no matter how much they love each other.

Kameron Hurley said...

We're very prepared to fight a big battle for love, but have no idea how to get through the little everyday ones. The response to most conflict these days is, "Screw that, we're unhappy, it means we have to break up."

And the same time, I don't want to get stuck in a relationship like my first one where I kept thinking all the bad stuff was just "normal" relationship stuff. I don't have any conception of what a "normal" amount or kind of conflict is in a relationship, or how to deal with it.

Makes this whole road kind of tough.

rt said...

yeah, i hear that. it's amazing to look back at past relationships and think, i can't believe i put up with that much shit. because at the time, you're just trying to get through, day by day, until it gets good again, until it's worth it again.

alternatively, i think of my parents, who have been married for 37 years, have a great relationship (i guess, though no one can really know but them), and yet can still annoy the crap out of each other. or have the *same damn argument* each time they go on a long car trip. it amazes me.