Tonight, on the way to Soccer Round Two, my soccer buddy and I got to talking about relationships. We're both single, both very emotional people who love relationships of all types, and we're both lucky people in many ways, but unlucky in Love. He's had a bunch of unhappy ones, I've had a few unhappy ones. Hell, the best relationship I ever had was a fling with a guy who barbequed us food while I lounged around in a hammock. When he wasn't giving me the facts of life from the perspective of someone 20 years older than I, it was great. Lots of sex and food, hammocks and scotch.
Years later, I'm 29 going on 30 this winter, and it's been over 3 years since I loved anyone.
How I feel? 0bviously, lonely. When my newborn soul was passing along the conveyor belt of gifts and curses, somebody stamped "unrequited" over my heart. I've been hearing sad old songs in the back of my head all my life. A kind of "doom, doom, doom" beat clomping along behind the harmonica.
But I can't feel too bad for myself. Over the course of three decades, I've met all kinds of people, been paid (or not) to do many different things... I've traveled, made music, written stories, danced, gardened, thought... played soccer... How many things should one person get to do and feel? If I died tomorrow, my life would have been full.
l used to do this exercise that I got out of a self-help book. After drawing a large box on a page, I divided into 9 squares. Each bore a label: family, relationship, work, vocation, health, spirit, friendship, community, hobbies. The object of the exercise was to make sure each square was full, or at least not empty. I did this exercise repeatedly over the years, and sorry, but the whole box never quite got full up.
Because, you know, I'm never going to have that totally well-rounded life! Yet, my life feels wonderful. Today, I hauled deadfall wood out of our forest (my hands performed superbly, yay!) so that I can cut them (after I learn to use my neighbour's non-vibrating chainsaw) and burn them in the stove to keep me warm at night over the winter. Then, I played soccer. Then, I ate pretzels, which I dipped in organic butter churned 100 feet away.
So. Since I am so lucky, and even though I would love to have a family, how can I say that this existence isn't enough?
Hence, the conveyor belt theory. I've come to believe that wanting more than the talents, brains, and good fortune I've been dealt would be like stepping over a pot of gold to go haring after the dragon's hoard. How will I ever be serene if I keep fighting the dragon? I got some stuff, and I didn't get some other stuff. That's okay, right? Because I don't want the "lonely, unwanted" nastiness to be the truth. I don't want wistfulness to be the soundtrack of my life.
I told soccer buddy my theory. He liked it. It soothed his solitary heart, too.
So, here's to all of us, lucky here, unlucky there! What a glorious, messy pageant we play in! Maybe next year I'll be poor, maybe last year I was unhappy, maybe my hands will recover completely, maybe the watermelon will stay in its crater. Today, in my loneliness, the fifth thing I will do (after logs, soccer, butter and blog) will be to smoke a cigarette by the pond under the stars.