Sunday, April 24, 2011

Conversations during Easter weekend

Skull (from life).  Oil on canvas.  10x10 inches.  2011.  Uban.

I went to my parents' house in Bensalem for Easter weekend.  It was mostly typical, but I ended up having an interesting conversation with my older brother and a neighbor about how weird dating is.  The concept of dating has always weirded me out, but this is America (Uh-merica!!), and that's what we do here... otherwise, I would be waiting to be courted or preparing my dowry of goats for an arranged marriage, I've gone along with it.

My neighbor put it in the best possible terms, "Whenever I take a girl out, I am thinking to myself the entire time, in three months, we're not going to talk anymore..."  He agrees with me how strange dating is.  You are expected to get to know someone and be intimate with this person and tell them stories from your childhood and what's your parents are like and minor personality flaws that make you a bit insecure, etc... then it doesn't work out, you no longer talk to this person, and then you find someone else to do this thing with, and then after that person you do it again with someone else.  You  repeat this process until you find somebody tolerable to be in a relationship with.  Casual dating doesn't feel so casual to me...

My neighbor and I hate this idea.  We both harbor the same fantasy where we start off as friends with someone and then eventually somehow fall in love with them.  My brother told us we were retarded, "So you want to make friends to fall in love with?"  Yes, in fact, I do.

It's silly, I guess.  Okay, I know it's silly.  My view of relationships is skewed, and it's not my fault.  I've just had an unrealistic family life.  My parents have been happily married for 23 years, and they've never been married to anybody else but each other.  They knew each other for years, and then, one day my mother read a letter my dad had written, and she was hooked by his prose.  They began a letter exchange, and finally realized that they loved each other enough that they wanted to get married.  For once, I won't feel guilty about blaming my parents for the way I am.

Being a romantic is not easy.  Sure it's pretty to look at, but it takes patience.  I didn't start dating until I was 18 years old and in college.  The first boy I dated, I fell madly in love with.  We talked about marriage and raising a family right out of college.  We talked about how we'd handle finances and sharing bank accounts and how divorce is not an option and how we planned to parent our lot of future children.  We talked about what we'd do when our parents were older and needed our support.  We talked about genetic diseases in our family and my Catholic family and his not-Catholic family and who would cook dinner and drive the kids to soccer practice...  I was naive then.  It took me a while, but I realized it wasn't going to be this easy for me.

I was wrong about a lot, but I was very wrong about what I wanted.  I realized things about myself:  I don't want to get married until I am at least 30, and I don't want to have children until I am at least 32.  I want to be an artist.  I want a career, and hopefully save up some college tuition money for these kids that I've been planning to have.  This means that I have given myself at least decade to find a decent man who can tolerate my clumsiness and laugh at my jokes.  While a decade sounds pretty sweet, I mean heck, no pressure, ten years is plenty of time to find a nice, charming man.  This ten years of leeway also makes serious dating for someone as romantic as I am really impractical at the moment.

I've had my bouts with casual dating, and the more I do it, I feel like it's not my cup of tea... reasons as stated in the quote by my neighbor.  But then, serious dating doesn't seem the way to go either.  I mean, it's just plenty awkward to have to tell someone who's looking for something serious, that I can't be that serious for another decade.  In the serious dating world, I am a liability and have commitment issues.  In the casual dating world, I am too serious because as much as I don't want to be, hooking up and getting to know someone that I will not be talking to in three months, makes me mighty jaded.  My brother has commented that I get too emotionally involved in relationships that aren't serious.

I am cursed.  As much as I know my brother's right about how much of my heart I'm willing to give away, I will continue to make these same mistakes.  And I will do it because of how beautiful I know love is.  I think casual dating freaks me out so much because it doesn't make love a priority, when love has always been a priority of mine.  So maybe the timing, along with many other things, was off with the first guy I wanted all those things with.  But I know one day I'll meet someone with whom I'll look forward to watching the evening news and to tending the tomatoes and basil, and I won't have to pretend to be fine being a casually undefined " potential something" with him, or have to feel smothered by the thought that he doesn't understand why I want to be an artist.

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