I think I was probably thirteen or fourteen years old when I went to the wedding of a family friend and heard the minister talk about true love. He reminded all of us that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, and then went on to explain to the congregation that this means there is a perfect match for each of us. For every man, he said, there is a woman bearing his rib; for every man, there is a woman who makes him whole.
Let’s explore this a little, shall we?
So there is one perfect match for me. Okay. What if he lives in Timbuktu and I never meet him? What if he died of Reye’s syndrome when he was eight years old? Wait — maybe he’s alive and well and right here in Michigan, but he’s gay. That is the kind of luck I have. Maybe I already met him when I was too young and too picky, and I never gave him a chance because he was short. Maybe he is married to the wrong person. Or maybe I met him and missed my chance because I was already married to the wrong person.
And really, who is to say that my husband was “the wrong person”? We shared some good times along with the bad, and we made three incredible children together. Maybe he was my perfect match but we were just too stupid and selfish to figure out how to stay married.
No, I don’t believe that there is only one perfect person for each of us. Life just can’t be that cruel.
“The heart wants what the heart wants.” I’ve heard this saying so many times over recent weeks. True romantics who get all misty-eyed and emotional, who gulp and sniffle while moaning that they couldn’t help themselves, couldn’t help falling in love because it was just bigger than they were, an irresistible need to be with a soul mate after eyes met across a crowded room.
Come on, let’s be honest with ourselves. The only thing that meets across a crowded room is libido. The only thing bigger than anyone is desire, and the mating that follows has nothing to do with anyone’s soul. Rather than the heart wanting anything, it’s more along the lines of “the dick wants what the dick wants.”
Okay, so maybe I’m a little angrier than I realized.
I read romance novels. I love movies like Somewhere in Time and Heart and Souls. I sing along with Don Williams about believing in love. I believe that I will fall in love again, and that I will someday be happy with a man who treats me the way I deserve to be treated.
I believe in love.
What I don’t believe in is fairy tales. Destiny. Kismet. In real life, Prince Charming became a bad guy on General Hospital. Princess Buttercup married Sean Penn while Westley ended up playing a campy villain in the next generation’s fairy tale movie.
I had the whole eyes-across-a-crowded-room experience once. It was my first relationship, and I was hopelessly immature about it; I cherish my memories of him, but it wasn’t the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. He taught me about love and about sex, and about letting go when it was over. He didn’t break my heart. He woke it up.
There was no crowded room the night I met my husband. It was just him and me, with his shy smile and the bluest of blue eyes. We rode in his pickup truck to a hockey game, where he apologized for swearing in front of me when the Orlando Solar Bears scored on the Kalamazoo Wings. We bumped into my sister and her family, and he didn’t know I heard him tell her that I was beautiful.
I kept the ticket stub in my jewelry box.
We fit. We laughed together so easily, and talked about past loves, past hurts. We fell too fast. Bought a decrepit old house to fix up and started making babies and for the briefest of moments it looked like all of our dreams were going to come true. But somewhere along the line, we stopped laughing. The renovations on the house never happened, and we fell out of love as easily as we fell into it.
I still believe in love.
I’m not going to make eye contact with some stranger across a crowded room and fall hopelessly in love. Nor will I ever tumble head over heels because a man says I am beautiful. I know better. I am not going to create impossible dreams of a glorious future with anyone. I want reality.
I believe in reality. And the reality is that there is nothing magical about true love. No Kismet, no Destiny, no “meant to be”. No perfect, mystical, once-in-a-lifetime, pre-destined match.
Love is just . . . love. That’s all it is.