“You’re the most self-sufficient girl I know.”
It still seems odd to me that out of that entire conversation that one statement is the thought that has stuck in my mind over the past few days. When he first made it I asked him what he meant by it. He told me that it was the fact that I always take care of myself. He made the examples that I can cook for myself and clean, but I knew what he meant. And I guess I couldn’t really argue with him.
I’ve always insisted on taking care of myself. If I wanted something I made the money to earn it. Even now, while my parents help with tuition, I buy my own groceries and basically support my living conditions. My mother asks if I need money and I say no because while I don’t need money I think that even if I did I would say no.
But its not just about money. Its about the fact that I take care of everything for myself. I can’t afford parking here so I make sure I can take the bus to get groceries and go to work without having to ask anyone for a ride. When I wanted to go to Australia I set everything up and went.
I guess my friend was right about my being self-sufficient. The only problem is that I’ve come to realize that perhaps I don’t want to be this self-sufficient. I’ve tried so hard to insist that I don’t need any help that I no longer have any, nor am I able to ask for it. I don’t want to have to depend on anyone for anything, yet it would be nice to have someone I could depend on. Someone who would walk me to the hospital when I need stitches, someone who would make me a birthday cake so that I didn’t have to bake my own.
And presently I find myself in a classic catch-22. I won’t be mentally capable of handling a relationship until I can do it without needing someone and yet I can’t find a way out of what I’m in without the help of someone else.
He called me self-sufficient but failed to realize that that was why I was there, to ask for his help, to stop being self-sufficient.
I almost felt like Alice leaving Wonderland that morning. Stepping out of the red carpeted stairs into a more sane, less adventurous place. My horse and carriage were awaiting me, though in this lifetime they are usually just a green minivan. He wasn’t in the driver’s seat like I expected, but rather walking up the sidewalk like he’d decided that sitting still was too much for him. It wasn’t even five am, I hadn’t been to bed, but by the way he bounced up to me I knew he was just as excited as he always was to go back. He had his cowboy/outback traveling hat perched on his head, and a smile as big as the word Minnesota on his sweatshirt.
I wondered what he thought of me as I stood there. I saw him as the same man who had held me while I cried. Only now sometimes I was the one who tried to comfort him. Did he still see me as that child? Or did he look at the hair and the make-up and not see the child underneath?
“Ready to go kid?”.
I looked over at him, still slightly dazed. I hadn’t been to bed, nor was I completely sober and I could not shake the feeling that I’d just fallen out of the rabbit hole. But I knew the answer “yeah Daddy, lets go home.”
He looked over at me and said “Your shoes are in the car.”, silently mocking the fact that I was wearing knee high boots with three inch heels and pink track pants.
In the same tone I said “I figured packing the moose instead of the shoes was more practical.” We both smiled in acknowledgment of our matching sense of humor. Other people may have found the words humorous, but between just us the jokes always meant more. It was our way of excluding the real world and staying safely hidden in our own.
But he caught a glimpse of something in my eye and his tone softened. “Let’s hit the road.”
I was tired and ready to fall into myself. We started talking, though, about anything and everything. We’d recently been reading the same books. I would read something and give it to him, then he would read something and give it to me. It gave us even more than usual to talk about. That morning it was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and he quoted from it as we pulled into the Hinsdale oasis to get some breakfast for him and some orange juice for me.
As our trip unfolded we talked about other various things. He told me that our new cell plan had more minutes. But I’d never gone over in the old plan, since it was free to call him. We called each other every few days, just when we were walking or driving somewhere, when we’d seen something funny. We would talk while I was going home from night class and make stay on the line until I was at my door and home safe.
He knew something wasn’t quite right during that ride. He kept saying “tell me if you want to go to sleep, I brought you a pillow.” And as much as I wanted to go to sleep and shut to world out, I wanted to talk to him more.
We’d made the trip together so many times that we knew each stop along the way. At our gas station stop he pointed out the building that had once housed a fishing museum. We’d stopped and gone inside one trip. Nothing exciting but a fun hour to spend talking about things we wanted to do and places we wanted to go. Now, much to our amusement, it had become an adult bookstore.
“Probably makes much better money now” he said.
I had been nervous the whole trip. But as we crossed the river into Minnesota I felt a sigh of relief. I didn’t know if what was waiting for me there would be better or worse than what I’d left behind, but I felt that it would at least be more peaceful.
I was watching a movie this evening, the name of which I will not reveal for in doing so would reveal my state of heart. As I watched, the thought came to me that perhaps the increasing rate of divorce has come about not through the loss of morals and sense of commitment imbued in society, but rather through the notions of love that the media has spread over the last fifty years. Watching movies as well as tv shows often gives one the sense that there is that perfect love out there, the one that you’ve been waiting for your entire life.
I no longer believe this is really true. I’m not sure if I ever did, but a sense of certainty about it came over me tonight. Society sometimes blames issues of violence on the media, but what about issues of love? We can all say that movies don’t effect us, that they are just fiction. But deep down, they must influence something in us or else the world would not be so drawn to them. So as the influence of media has spread, so has the unhappiness with certain situations. People see this love in movies and believe that perhaps it is just over that next hill. Couples married for years when one sees a possible chance of something better, something more. Sometimes there is that chance, and sometimes things work out for the better. But perhaps the reason that person takes the chance is because of the seed of doubt planted in their heart from a movie they once saw.
Once my mother said something to me in passing that has stuck with me ever since. She told me that she believed there was not just that one person for everyone, but rather you could fall in love with almost anyone. The key was that you found that person when you were both at the same point in your life. It didn’t really matter where you were on the path of your life, just as long as you were there together. It struck me as the truth for some reason. People can grow apart just as easily as they can grow together. And its not just being at that same part of the path, but rather traveling down it at the same pace after you meet.
And maybe that person will not be who you thought it was, and maybe it won’t be the most exciting time of your life. But just because its not movie love doesn’t mean its not love. Don’t try to drag someone down your life path with you, and stop trying to catch up to the person you think you should love. Okay, I think I’ve beaten the life as a path metaphor enough now.
Honestly, breathe and take your time. I’m no longer sure if I’m giving this advice to random people who may be reading this or to myself any longer. But I have spent the last year and a half trying to be someone that the person I wanted to love would love. And out of that has come a great deal of pain, but also a sense of patience. Be patient with your life and happy with what you have. Its such clichéd advice, but if you keep looking over your shoulder, or along the horizon you’ll miss what’s right in front of you.