My friend said something pretty interesting to me the other day.
She said that amongst all our friends, I am the one who seemed to pretty much have my “shit” together.
She pointed out that I have strong convictions, a job that doesn’t make me want to find out what a gun barrel tastes like and that I’ve been in a committed relationship for the past five years.
This innocent little comment can be taken as a nice compliment by anyone but it came as quite a surprise to me. Partly because either my friends didn’t really know me all that well (or it’s just I’ve managed to mask all my pain and troubles very well) or that everyone around me has infinitely more fucked up lives.
For the record, if I am the beacon example of what a functioning human being is supposed to be like, then we as a species are all truly and undeniably fucked.
Allow me to provide some back-story to illuminate the subject.
I am a 27 year-old writer whose only discernable skill is probably having the tolerance and patience of Jesus (I’ve worked in the service industry a long-ass time) and I can name every superhero that has been in The Avengers rotating roster since 1989 from memory.
I have a pension for drugs and hallucinogens (mostly to escape from the fact that I am a 27 year-old nerd with basically no skills) and that I am passionately curious about everything. I am a mediocre writer at best and despite my most valiant of efforts, an okay lover. (Ugh. I promise that will be the last time I use “lover” in that context in this article.)
My friend lamented of how hard it was to find the “right” partner, if such a thing even exists; or even if you do manage to snag someone, how tough it was to maintain that relationship.
First off, all, and I do mean ALL relationships are hard work; so let’s just get that out of the way. You want an easy relationship, go date a body pillow.
Now at first I was ready to cast aside her complaints as just another lonely singleton whom simply needed a hug every now and then or she just didn’t really understand the effort that goes into maintaining a relationship well after you’ve past the “honeymoon” phase. But then as time went on, more and more of my friends were complaining about the same thing;
“When am I gonna get married?”
“Why is it so difficult to find a good man/woman?”
“WHY HAS GAWD FORSAKEN MEEEEEE?!”
Though these questions are nothing new, what surprised me were the people who were asking them. They weren’t the namby-pamby pencil pushers just going through the motions, biding for time until they eventually keel over and die. No, some were hardcore junkies, blue collar macho men and straight up gangsters.
It seemed to me, that love takes absolutely no prisoners.
I wish I had an answer for all my friends. But much like a blind man crossing a river, I’m just wading around hoping I make it across relatively unscathed.
I can only infer from what I have actually been through and what I’ve been through is by-and-large, nothing special. The one thing I did change compared to all my other previous relationships, was to be completely honest with her right at the start. I laid all my cards out, flaws and all. I sat my girlfriend down and I came clean, from my embarrassing past (I used to think I was a pretty awesome rapper at one point) to my financial instability to my unconventional lifestyle.
I told her I didn’t know how this relationship would turn out but if she was willing, then we’ll find out together.
I realize that that may sound like some wrought-out chick-flick cliché, but five years on, through motorcycle accidents and bumbling head-trips, I’m going to be marrying that girl.
And fundamentally, that was the difference between this and all my other previous relationships. I chose right from the start to be as painfully honest as I possibly can without being an outright dick about it.
During our first year together (while still in our “honeymoon” phase), I decided to test the waters a little bit by bringing her to a three-day full-on psychedelic festival.
I knew from the time we bought our flight tickets that this would either solidify what we already have and make us stronger or send us spiraling crashing and burning.
Like all relationships, I took a gamble on us. And that ‘s not to say the trip was a blissful love-fest filled with all-day hand holding by the beach and staring deep into each other’s eyes right up until we set four-dozen white doves free into the sky.
It was hardly that.
And when you add drugs and alcohol into the mix, you are introducing an infinite amount of ways to fuck up the relationship. (It would be right to point out that my girlfriend has NEVER taken any drugs not prescribed by a doctor at this point.)
But by allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of her and not being a complete dick about it, I progressively informed and educated her of this weird and variegated world before her in the most honest and non-condescending way possible instead of trying to jackhammer my perspectives and beliefs into her face in the hopes that though she may not totally get it now; with time and patience, she will eventually not only understand my lifestyle; but come to understand me.
Not just what I do but why I do what I do.
And in this life, that is the best any of us could really hope for.
Love is a concurrent series of joy, struggle, regret, realizations, forgiveness, heartache and confusion, and not necessarily in that order or any order.
You roll the dice and you play the game and never lose the faith.
Art by Skley.