Our young protagonist, involved in an unlikely affair with a considerably older woman, one that all outsiders would state an “obvious fail”, just shrugs at his dubious confronters and says, “I know what I’m doing. I’ll be all right.”
And me, there on my sofa, I scoff and chuckle, “Oh, sure you will.”
Because I know. I know that, no matter how old we are, love makes bitches of us all.
Whatever your age, power status, social stature, or financial means, when love comes knocking and your heart starts racing, almost every one of us knows the cloying struggle between terror and exuberation.
My god — someone I like? Someone I need to be vulnerable for? Someone who’ll require me breaking free of my thou-shalt-not-enter comfort zone? Someone else to be responsible to?
I know all about the terror and the desire to run. Been there, done that. Yet it happens every time.
Why? Because I’m too fuckin’ smart for my own good.
See, here’s where being blissfully ignorant would pan out nicely. “Aww. He’s cute. I should shag him. We could make babies. Then we could be cute together forever in a rancher with a picket fence! Matching polo sweaters! The end. Okay, let’s do that.”
I think one’s ability to dumb shit down has a direct correlation with their ability to blissfully skate through life without worrying about the far-reaching consequences of today’s actions.
Like: “If I hook up with him, even just for dinner, it’ll be a real connection, and we’d be too smart to think it just a temporary thing, since we’re geniuses, so we’d skip that whole casual thing because we’re over-achievers and that’s what we do, next thing you know, holy-fucking-commitment, Batman.”
Somehow, it’s easy to make the jump from “That’s a nice date” to “What size would you like that ball and chain?” when you have big brains and a penchant for foresight and remedial mathematics.
Naturally, it’s a fucking moronic jump to make, because it’s totally disallowing for the possibility of utterly ridiculous arguments in cars, failed romantic moments, crass comments, stupid jokes, selfishness, and everything else that causes the demise of more than half of relationships.
Because, while we know money and sex issues account for more than half of all doomed relationships, we know that the other half end because of really fucking dumb things. And none of us are immune.
The trouble is, no matter how much of mankind’s history is before us, we seem to conveniently forget that many millenniums of poetry, love stories, fables, and legends, all surrounding matters of the heart, that tell us how instrumental love is not only on an interpersonal, but also on a geopolitical scale.
Look at Catherine the Great and Potemkin. Cleopatra and Antony. The destructive nature of failed relationships in the reign of King Henry VIII and how it completely changed England. Look at how Mata Hari wielded affection like a weapon. Or the legend of William Wallace rising up in Scotland first to avenge his fallen love.
Matters of the heart define us as people. We want to wave them off as puffery and fodder only worthy of silly date movies, but it is the marrow of who we are.
No matter how advanced or intellectual we become as either a society or as individuals, we will never, ever have the upper-hand against our itty-bitty, throbbing hearts.
Jealousy, confusion, betrayal, yearning, wishing, wanting, fearing, dreading… when we say what we want is a chance at love, real love, we have to admit, it is these things too we are preparing to chance.
Despite it all, it’s time we accept that it’s that enthralling whirlwind of unpredictable highs and lows that makes love and the matters of the heart what they are. And all this fear and dread doesn’t change the fact that, for some pretty wonderful (even if sometimes all-too-brief) moments, there is nothing in the world that feels greater than that mind-heart connection firing on all cylinders.
Because, for as long as all those stories of broken hearts have been told, so too has love-worth-dying for existed. Nothing spoke greater to that legacy of Love that Lasts than this archaeological find pictured here, the Lovers of Vardaro, found locked in an embrace in 2007 after more than 5,000 years — when pyramids were being built, before Rome and Greece were even inklings.
And that’s the treasure we’re all looking for, the gift that makes all the searching worth it. The possibility of the ever after.
While we’re looking, though, it’d serve us all well to remember what Ursula K. Leguin has written, “It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it’s the journey that matters in the end.”