This is just me, not for a class or of any particular literary worth. This is just me thinking.
Because I have this friend – one in particular but several who’ve had this experience – and she was dating a good guy. She fell in love and it was widely accepted by her family, her friends, and herself that she’d marry him. But they were apart for a while and things changed, and even after they moved in together, things got worse. They aren’t together anymore. She was sure he was the only one for her.
Please don’t get me wrong: this is not my story. This really is a friend of mine. Her experience just got me thinking about love and relationships and the expectations that come with those terms. There are expectations, whether we’re brave enough to admit that we have them or not. Every little girl wants to grow up and get married to a man who loves her truly. That’s okay, but sooner or later as we grow up I think we put that expectation on men before they’re ready for it.
My friend’s experience also made me strangely thankful that mine has not been like that. I feel lucky. I have felt love, the truest kind I know exists, and the walls of that relationship crumbled for all sorts of complicated reasons that can pretty much be boiled down to this: he was scared to try, and I was scared not to, and we both didn’t want to hurt the other by admitting these things. But that relationship was short. It was crazy and fast and completely unorthodox, but it was mercifully short. I may wish that I’d had him for longer, but how lucky am I, really? At least it was short. We didn’t drag it out and die slowly over three years.
As much as I am not over it, as messed up as I’ve been, and as much as love’s fist squeezes my chest sometimes, at least I didn’t have him for three years. We may stretch this thing out and I may stupidly try to be a part of his life, but at least I have no expectations. At least he has not given me reason to think that he wants to spend his life with me. I can’t imagine how awfully catatonic I’d be if we’d dated for years, moved in together, and I’d waited for him to pop the question as I watched him change from the man I loved into someone new, someone who no longer wanted me.
It may not be working, but we are still friends. His smile is still in my life. Perhaps we inflict small, petty cruelties upon each other, but they are so small, said almost apologetically, as though we both know that we say them only to protect ourselves. We say them so that, when he puts his arm around me or I go to hug him, there are still walls in place to keep our lips from meeting.
As much as I love him, I am so lucky.