I would say that I’ve been searching for Her my whole life, but that wouldn’t be true. I wasn’t even interested in finding someone until I was 17. So I guess I’ll say that I’ve been searching for Her for about 13 years. Who is she?
In 1992, I wrote a poem called “Cease to Persist.” It was an allegory of a Wolf (me), a Raven (solitude), and the Lady (Her). Throughout the years, she’s appeared in my poetry off and on, adapting as my wants changed. She is my vision of the ideal woman.
I kept writing about Her across several relationships. Looking back on those poems, I can see I changed the Lady slightly with each one, picking out the best points from each and giving them to her. Now, though, I look back and realize that I’ve been in love with a imaginary woman. Even worse, I’ve been mentally cheating on my girlfriends with this figment. That certainly wasn’t fair to them.
I used to believe in the concept of a soulmate, that one perfect person, and so I wrote about her. Now, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that True Love is actually finding a person who is willing to put up with your bullshit and baggage, and whose bullshit and baggage you are willing to put up with in return. The Dating Process is the time period in which you reveal your bullshit and baggage, little by little, until the point has been reach when you either run or propose.
Why do we play this game? Wouldn’t it make more sense to dump all your baggage on the table on the first date? (Ok, the second date… first dates are supposed to be fun.) Because we enjoy licking the red off the candy.
Let me explain. It’s an expression that I’ve used for years. (Thanks, Chip!) Think of the person you’re dating as a peppermint candy. In the beginning, you can’t learn enough about this person. You enjoy finding out everything about them, hearing their stories, and you look forward to seeing them again because you want to know even more. You’re licking the red part of the candy. There comes a time, though, that the red has licked off the candy and your left with an unattractive white lump full of holes. You’ve heard all their stories. You know everything about them. You can probably finish their sentences for them. To many people, this is the beginning of the end of the relationship. And so we guard ourselves, making sure to leak out our stories and facts about ourselves slowly over time, so as to delay this final phase.
To some people, though, there is a comfort in this familiarity. I think these are the people that end up getting married and staying married. Since my relationships have all ended, I can’t really say.
Back to my point, though. (You remember my point, right?) This Lady is someone that I’ve been learning new things about for thirteen years. Because she’s an ideal, I have the luxury of changing her at a whim. The problem, though, is that she doesn’t exist. There. I’ve admitted it. I’ve been carrying a torch for an imaginary friend. So what happens now?
When I was growing up, my father used to say “You’ve got to decide what you want, and what you’re willing to give up for it.” Thank you, Dad, for giving me this bit of wisdom to help me through life. I’ll never be able to find the words to express know how much I respect you for that.
Do I continue my affair with this ideal woman, at the expense of all the real women out there?
Or do I give these real women a chance, and give up on the myth?
PS – If you haven’t seen or read High Fidelity, I highly recommend it.