Love. It got so much harder with age. The finding of it, the keeping of it. But mostly, the being okay with it.
We are the generation that’s living life in flinch-decision mode. Swipe Right, Unsubscribe, Alt-Tab, Mute, Disconnect. No wonder our biggest addition to the world of relationships is “It’s complicated” and “ghosting”. Do we give up too easily? An entire generation of us cannot be uniformly more cowardly, weaker or superficial than the generations of humans before us.
No, I think the world is changing faster than it ever has. It’s already a universe different from the ones we were being groomed to enter. Nothing makes sense. And no one taught us how to deal with getting hurt. We don’t even allow each other (or ourselves) time and room to heal. Get over it, snap out, set his letters on fire, flush her pictures away, we say. Quick, quick, instant heal, instant burn, instant crash. It’s exhausting.
I decided not to react but live instead. I decided to hold off on flinch reactions for as long as I could. So I did not write reams of hate posts or heartbreak poetry about the diltoot (well, not too much). I briefly lashed out but I set it right. And before I knew it, we’re already three months into 2017, taxes are being computed and the world is making plans for the future.
In between all that, this nightmare happened. I got rescued, which is a novel experience for me. Nobody was around to even offer a kind word when an asshole was abusing me in college or when a ‘feminist’ fiance was beating me up and collecting accolades for singing about it. I got used to not being rescued, then I got used to being suspicious of anyone offering refuge and finally, I forgot what rescuing or even kindness looked like. This only happened because well, too much happened and I crashed. I would never have set foot on stage again, if it hadn’t been for this rescue. And instead, because of it, I went back onto that same stage and I led the orchestra. (Metaphorically speaking, that is – I opened an event that’s gone viral and then curated and hosted the follow-up event that got such a response that the venue got mobbed). I’m very tired.
I like my rescuer. It doesn’t go anywhere. Should it? Should I? What else? Have I lined up options? Have I protected myself? Am I looking at the big picture? Am I missing any details? Who’s SuperLiking me on Tinder? Is my Snapchat account still alive?
I don’t have to make a decision. I guess I don’t have to do anything. I have to remind myself of that often. I just have to take a deep breath and live through whatever happens. At 37 and single, I’m not really as raw as I was at 22 and abused or 31 and gaslit/dumped. But my reactions come from a place of habit. These habits don’t serve well. I’ve always prided myself on being able to acquire and drop habits easily. But how do you drop your flinch reactions without flinching?
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Movies are a complicated business these days.
There is the hysteria of the Fridaygoer who will all but maim in a bid to get to the box office first and then spend most of the movie updating his Facebook status from his phone. Then there’s the desperate reek of a Saturdaygoer who didn’t get any party invitations, doesn’t want to spend over a grand at a pub entry fee and will spend it instead on overpriced, stale multiplex food watching what everyone else pretended to watch the previous day. And of course there’s delightful Sunday characterised by screaming kids and loud aunties yelling popcorn orders to their husbands in the aisles. Weekdays used to be saner but now thanks to the kuttewaala network, Tuesdays are a mad melee of excitable collegians! That leaves Mondays when it’s too early to legitimately enjoy anything in this workaholic city. Wednesday is the sole movie night for the sane-and-wanting-to-stay-that-way.
Of course even this elaborate (and much elaborated-upon) decision complicates manifold with the arrival of the significant other. It quite makes one wonder what one ever thought one had in common with the other and exactly what the stuff of those endless conversations must have been. Do men change post-relationship or do we both?
Take this week’s movie date. The weekend scan of the listings had us at a standoff at the box office. Perhaps that’s why, in sheer desperation (or lack of foresight…we’re waiting on that one), the boyfriend rashly offered a compromise,
I’ll watch Eclipse with you if you’ll come for Predators!
Much to his amazement, I nodded. He hasn’t yet learnt about how patient even this impatient one can be….it’s early days, after all. Not a minute wasted, he rushed off to get the tickets. A few minutes before we entered the hall, better sense appeared to have prevailed and he asked (in a super-hopeful voice),
“You were just kidding about wanting to watch Eclipse, right?”
I fixed him with a don’t-you-dare look. So he tried another tack. (*Sigh* I keep telling the boy to learn to die gracefully)
“If you like this movie, it doesn’t count, okay!?”
“Predator for Eclipse. We had a deal, dude!”
And suddenly, the man next to me shook his head violently and addressed the boyfriend.
“You DON’T even want to think about it! Such a waste of time!”
Before I could glare at the boyfriend, rap strange man on head for butting in or yell ‘foul!’, they two had launched into a comparative bashing of Aisha and Eclipse. When they finally broke it up, boyfriend grinned back at me triumphantly and said,
The masses have spoken, see!
My characteristic ‘as-if’ eyebrow shrug before I said,
Thank your stars I didn’t ask you to watch SATC2 with me. Now let’s get this over with.
I sat through the movie without comment. And when the lights came on, he had to admit that it really hadn’t been a very good movie, after all. 🙂
Weekend booking plans start now. I’m going to wrangle a double-or-nothing deal out of this one. SCORE a point for the lady! 😉
These things never go away.
If there has ever been history, it will show even if you are in the same room.
Yes, very dramatic. And perhaps romantic. Heartening, even to some.
But reality seems to indicate otherwise. Attraction, like everything else, is impermanent. Or perhaps I’m only thinking of fancy and not real lust.
And yet, the novelty is so much a part of the attraction, the first time round…I often wonder what keeps couples together after years and years and years. Sure, there is the comfort and caring and real depth of a good relationship. But attraction?
And if you don’t stay a couple and meet several years and other people later, is it a given that things wouldn’t have changed? I don’t think so. People change, times change, tastes change too. So who knows, a re-union could be a real re-union…or just a history lesson. I’ll lay my chances on the latter.
A version is posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.