Life is a theme-park ride with pretty props and clever animatronics staged for your benefit because only the two of you exist.
The curse of November has been lifted. I know it’s March, but bear with me. Many Novembers in a row, unpleasant things happened to me. There was a November in which a little fool cheated on me while I sustained a fever of 103.5.
“How are you standing?” the doctor had asked, because supposedly, a fever half a degree higher could kill an adult.
Subsequent Novembers included reproductive scares, hemorrhaging and more displays from those who chose the eleventh month to reveal their assholish nature. So pretty much, the day after every Halloween, I knew to buckle down because either my body would try to kill me, or some vastly disappointing person would disappoint me.
This past November was not like the others. I fell in love like a teenager, like no one had tainted my idea of love as something pure and magical, not even those November numskulls of years past.
Long before the digital age did away with our former notion of privacy, I was a babbler. I had an obsessive need to announce whatever I felt to whomever was around and collect keepsakes to mark moments. So as far as I’m concerned, life reduced to 1’s and 0’s is the best gift to come out of my generation. Now I get to hide behind the world’s Instagrammed poolside toes and trivial pronouncements at the rate of thousands per second while adding my own.
Mine is a human disease to which few are immune.
I’ve taken pictures of most bouquets I’ve received within the last few years, and it’s with great resistance that I don’t post each one with some nonchalant missive so everyone who’s ever met me gets to see that I’m admired. I’m not sure why we’re compelled to brag. Maybe if we convince others that we enjoy life, we are better convinced of it ourselves.
But this falling in love thing? You’ve likely been in love yourself and recall how you finally understood about shouting and rooftops. It’s not about bragging, it’s about not being able to contain yourself even when you know you should. After all, people don’t want you to be too happy because it upsets that balance of general worldwide unhappiness sprinkled with mild joy here and there.
Some of us kind of suck, if you think about it, when we want Cindy Crawford to have cellulite and we pretend to applaud her “real woman” beauty when the truth is, we don’t want anyone to have a better body than our own, so her cellulite is a relief. We no more want others to have a better house, better friends or a better lunch. Imagine if one-upmanship didn’t exist: The power-hungry would cease their greed and manipulation, and duck faces would be relegated to feathery creatures with bills.
In the meantime, we’re likelier to achieve more by concerning ourselves with what we want out of our own life rather what everyone else gets out of theirs, and in doing so, we might even suffer less from that worldwide malaise of disgruntlement.
Even before falling in love, my conclusion about the worldwide malaise in myself had always been the same: there is nothing wrong. Foul moods descend on me all day because I don’t get enough sugar or traffic lights turn red. But there’s nothing wrong. It’s true that in keeping with my starving-artist for life contract, I have no money. But as someone I can’t recall said, if you only have money problems, then you have no problems. While I don’t have all the things I want, I do have the things I want most — art and love. This brings us back to the rooftop.
Whoever falls in love thinks they are the first to discover it. Everyone knows this. Yet when you fall in love, life is a theme-park ride with pretty props and clever animatronics staged for your benefit because only the two of you exist.
Being in love means when you breathe next to his/her skin, you get high. This is a fact. It’s ascribed to the happy-making dopamine produced by your brain. I’m no stranger to euphoria — induced or natural, so I’m quick to identify it. But the right mix of chemistry, or confounding sorcery as I like to call it, isn’t all it takes. There is your compatibility and mutual aesthetics and whether you can stomach sharing one bathroom.
Relationships happen to me when I can’t help it. It’s similar to following that starving-artist path. A young cousin of mine in the process of filling out law school applications recently mentioned that part of her thinks “it’d be fun to pursue acting instead.” I would’ve laughed if the subject weren’t so wearisome. There is nothing “fun” about the pursuit of acting. It’s heartache and back-break with no promise of a return — there’s no reason for anyone to put themselves through that unless they can’t help it.
Relationships, of course, do come with the promise of a return. But if you dislike compromise and domesticity, you dodge and duck them no matter how much you want love. If you’re familiar with this site, then you know all about how much I’ve wanted love even while I understood my own conflict:
“There’s absolutely no reason for me to be in a relationship except if my very sense were shaken out of me. The truth is, I’d really like someone to shake my sense right out.” I wanted a rock ‘n roller in spirit, my own age, with “the energy of a cat on catnip and the build of a teenager who can’t snarl without burning calories.”
In the end, my online dating endeavors paid off. It was through Tinder, where every tall man feels the need to list his exact height and every short man leaves the info conspicuously empty. His profile simply said, “I’m taller than you,” and won me over for its singularity rather than promised dimensions. So I met him one evening for a drink in Venice before my music class.
Tall or short wasn’t ever much of a factor for me. But he wasn’t just taller than me; he was taller than everybody.
My immediate impression? Dapper, mysterious, stately, indie musician. And…nocturnal cool. For me, that’s a part Euro, part pre-gentrification Alphabet City vibe. My people.
Over jalapeño infused drinks in an airy bar, I discovered within half hour that he was of the rare breed incapable of lying. Some people have a compulsion for full disclosure and for them I could lie down and die. Being myself the sort to blurt out everything because I can’t help it, I take nothing more personally than being lied to on any scale. It stands to reason that I find non-liars to be the gold-standard of humanity. This is why I had never gone on a first date without announcing the red flags about myself (“I’m always late, I’m always broke and I hate to work”). I was asked on a second date each time and now I understood why: have the flaw but don’t lie about the flaw and you are gold. And maybe work on the flaw.
Here I was with the first man who volunteered his potential red flags to me, and I decided to skip my music class to take a walk on the beach with him. By then it was dark and the beach was deserted. But I already knew his soul was gentle.
We took off our shoes and the cold sand felt good and strange. Looking at the breaking waves, I said:
“You could wake up to the same view of the sea for the rest of your life and never tire of it.” I was thinking about love — for my little niece, my brothers, my parents, my exes (the good ones) and how it would be impossible to tire of it. I’ve never been cynical about love. I find it to be powerful magic.
On the way back, we left the sand for the narrow cement path. There we encountered a cluster of hula-hooping Burning Man types. A beautiful girl with blonde dreds, sparkling eyes and a bikini top handed me a hula-hoop. She was a hipster faerie.
I was hopeless at the hula-hoop, couldn’t get it around me for one full circle. So I gave up and handed it to the dapper, exceptionally tall man with me.
In his velvet jacket, he demonstrated a perfect execution of the hula-hoop. The hipster faerie operated psychedelic light patterns on it by remote control. The hoop went around and around his hips, firing off colors into the night. Waves crashed white in the distance.
The moment was cinematic.
It’s nearly six months later and I wasn’t wrong. You don’t ever tire of waking up to the same emerald ocean.
- Don’t hide your flaws.
- If we can’t love the happiness of others, we can at least be neutral.
- Love is magic.
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