“I feel like myself when I’m with you — but the way I always wanted to feel”

First, if you don’t immediately recognize the title of this post, you are, indeed, a silly person. Or, you actually have a life, and aren’t addicted to … Mad Men!

SPOILER ALERT!!!

It’s hardly surprising that Don proposed to Megan. (Meghan? Meagan? Meaghan? Meg? Brigitte?) And frankly, it’s not that Don is so terrible of a person.

Half of falling in love again is falling in love with the person your lover thinks you are. Maybe more than half. We love love not because we are benevolent and want to be kind to the world, but instead because we love how love makes us feel. Our search for love hinges on the boosts it gives us, not the boosts it gives others.

Becoming interested in someone new does not simply hinge on the new person’s attractiveness. Even if they’re just physically attractive, we covet not just to have a new person, but because we wish to be the person who could have that person.

Now, these are not necessarily bad things. To me, serial monogamist and cynical idealist, this simply is how love works.

Years ago, I wrote, “The complication with established love is that your once-pure love is inexorably intertwined with so many other phenomena.  Yes, you’re in love, but as it’s this committed, established near-institution, it’s love, and commitment, and expectations, and planning, and sacrifice, and comfort, and routine.  When you’ve been with someone for a while, and you’re in love, you have certain expectations of each other, and have to accommodate each others’ lives, and sacrifice a lot of what you would’ve done as a single entity for the sake of your relationship.  (Of course, I’m only talking about the more negative stuff of committed love, because I’ll assume you know all the good shit, thanks to Disney.)”

Now that I’m old enough to drink, I feel comfortable adding a little more. I have been single for one year of the past seven. I never, EVER would have predicted that, and I don’t know if it’s really a good thing. But, c’est la vie.

I chose lovers off of attraction, sure, but this attraction was significantly driven by decisions — sometimes conscious, sometimes not — of the newer, upgraded Kari I wanted to be. Five years ago, I wanted to be amoral, fun, light, dirty, dancing. Three years ago, I wanted to be smart, respected, respectable. I did not want to ever be ashamed of my lover. I wanted to be good on paper, which meant I needed him to be good on paper, too.

Today, I know these factors are not enough. (If you follow my prior line of reasoning, though, you would argue that my previous factors are no longer sufficiently outcome-determinative.) You must feel out a new lover to be sure that his mere existence will continually inspire you to be the person you will want tomorrow — the person of whom you had never conceived.

Weirdly enough, the analogy that pops into mind is that of Harry Potter, Mr. Ollivander, and the magical art of wandmaking. The properties of wands are old and understood by few…ha!

Seriously, though, wandlore consists of two factors:

1. The wand chooses the wizard

Am I arguing that we deliberately pick our mates based off explicit characteristics we know we want to develop? No! Am I arguing that we must pursue the upwardly mobile doctrine of relationships? No! Am I arguing that I, personally, recognize that I have done so in the past, will probably do so in the future, and would not be surprised if many others do so, too? Yes!

2. The wand and wizard learn from and grow with each other through mutually-fought battles and lived experience

Whether I am with my current lover until death (whoa) or someday am with another (still weird), I’ve learned that common interests mean very little, and common activities mean much, much more. Frankly, whether you both love Jane Austen, sailing, the Lakers, or marijuana, you’ll have a great conversation piece when you start dating — hell, maybe even for years to come — but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be that happy in the long run. Life is not composed of ideas. Life is composed of actions! Life is composed of LIVING!

You make life through your actions (which may help ferment your ideas), and you make a life together through shared experiences. Discussing “Anecdote of a Jar” ad nauseum builds camaraderie, and may signal that this is a person in whose eyes you can admire yourself. But words alone will never convince you that you’re evolving into the person you want to be, and words alone will never build the respect for and support of each other necessary for the most fun, and most fruitful, lifelong relationships.

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