Wouldn't it be nice: On doomed love, plucked flowers and moving on
I’ve always been ill-suited for Valentine’s Day. At the tippy-top of my long, bizarre list of “stuff that makes me sad” rests balloons and flowers, both of which die slow, decorative deaths that must be graciously observed.
My anti-fervor for the event hasn’t been mitigated by past celebrations. My most memorable Valentine’s Day involved the painstaking removal of lice from another person’s hair. If only I were a chimp, this would be a fond recollection — a real bonding moment.
This year, though, Friday looms and I find myself eager, anticipatory. I’m in love. I’ve discussed my odd gift phobias. No one has lice.
But the thing is, my boyfriend and I — we’re huge idiots. Our relationship is doomed.
I call him up at least bi-monthly, panicking. I’m terrified that we’re wasting each others’ time. I don’t belong. I’m all wrong.
I’ll never be the right ethnicity, the right race or religion to fit into my boyfriend’s life. I can’t meet his parents; I’ll never know if they would have liked me.
Almost no one in his family can know I exist: Italian, white, ambiguous.
I tell my boyfriend that the theme song of our relationship is “Wouldn’t it Be Nice.” I sing the Beach Boys off-key with “Pakistani” and “Muslim” alternately substituted for “older,” the “we” for “I.”
The watersheds of our relationship — the symbols — all concern cars and the road. We’ve never quite managed to make a break for it, but it seems we’re always halfway there.
Most couples kind of know they’re not going to be together forever. It’s a subject they tiptoe around, something to be stifled when it silently surfaces mid-pillow talk. But we’d all rather consciously think of ourselves as our loves’ alpha and omega: their first, their last, their always.
We try to stifle, too, “Oh, you never know,” “Anything could happen” and “Things change.” But I know I’ve got a best-case scenario expiration date: college graduation. That’s all I’m given; that’s all I’ve got.
I’m sad about this, deeply sad. If I could, I would pick all the messy relationship shit — the taxes, the mini-lapses in faithfulness, the nightly dishwasher debate — over this “best days of our lives” limited-time-offer romp in a heartbeat.
But I don’t have that choice. I have to reconcile myself as best as I can.
So far, one of the only things that’s helped is the metamorphosis, the maturation, the mending of my definition of love.
I used to be caught up in the widespread belief that passive-aggressiveness equals passion, that possessiveness is affection obscured. I breathlessly awaited texts that never came, my jealousy aflame. I cancelled plans. I cancelled my dreams and my personality. I was convinced that I could corral someone in — keep them — if only I behaved correctly. This, to me, was love.
The Indian guru Osho advises that if you love a flower, you should not pluck it, killing it. Instead, you should let the flower be, appreciate without possession.
Now — after feeling my ability to pluck involuntarily inhibited — I realize that this is the purest, truest explanation of love.
I know I won’t be my boyfriend’s ultimate happiness, and he won’t be mine. Our futures do not belong to one another — not that any couple can be assured theirs will. In our case, though, we have other stops to make. We have other people to be.
But those people will not be unchanged.
Already, I’ve relearned self-respect, I’ve relearned independence, I’ve relearned fun. I’ve learned that the fastest cricket bowler has a record of 100.2 mph, that family is an insurmountable joy we’re all stuck behind, that I should always try goat milk lollipops and date cookies and candies in packages I can’t read, that I can almost-sort of do the arm part of bhangra and that I am worth having around — not ill-suited at all.
I have changed, and so I carry a piece of this relationship in my heart always, a piece of the couple’s other half.
I leave improved, and the possibility of my boyfriend one day improving another can’t leave me despondent. How could I deny anyone else the chance to admire?
I absorb these lessons, and my tongue, my hands momentarily conform to a language that will never be mine: One I’ve been taught, one I’m only borrowing, one I’ll never forget. Main tumse mohabbat karti hoon.
Katelyn Kennon is a journalism and creative writing junior. Follow her @DailyWildcat.