My boyfriend works in an art gallery. Sometimes I feel like that gallery is “the other woman” trying to steal him away – calling all the time, making up excuses to see him when he’s not supposed to be there…
Part of me wants to make a scene about this. I could storm into the still quiet of the gallery in my best ass-kicking boots crying, “Aha! It’s you! You’re the one who’s been texting him at 1am!” (I might have to aim this at whichever particular staff member is around rather than the gallery as a whole so people don’t think I’m crazy right away. Woe betide any volunteer who tries to sell me a watercolour print when I’m in this mood.)
I could channel Katharine Hepburn’s haughty derision and make them feel tiny and insignificant. I could belittle their artistic integrity and their reliance on traditional styles rather than embracing innovative contemporary movements. I could mock their chipped paintwork and sagging furniture, although that’s getting a little personal.
The trouble is, this isn’t my fight. The Boy has to decide whether or not to break all ties or stick around and try to leave things better than he found them. This gallery, this “other woman” relying on him because it can, is kill or cure.
You know what I realised today? I’m never going to fall in love.
Not because I’m the wicked witch of the story and social morality dictates that I’m not allowed to (or, at least, not as far as I know) but because I think about relationships in terms of cultural expectations, emotional engineering, social pressures and learned behaviour rather than puppies and rainbows and pixie dust.
One of my friends fell in love and got married in less than 2 years and it’s a beautiful story, she smiles every time she talks about it and she sounds absolutely sure of herself on every word. I know I’m never going to feel that because it would never occur to me that I was “falling in love”.
I’d recognise that 2 people could balance each other emotionally because they have similar personality traits, that making themselves mutually vulnerable could create a mutual attachment, that similar upbringings and familial relationships could lead to similar “romantic” expectations, that repeated positive reinforcement could spark endorphins every time they met.
I’d recognise that other people would watch a relationship like that develop and say these people were falling in love, but I wouldn’t say that myself.
I remember trying to find out what was going on in people’s heads when they thought they were falling in love because I couldn’t understand them, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe all that “love is madness” malarkey is an excuse to let go of your usual impulse control, to indulge the craving to escape the monotony of the every-day and to create a socially acceptable means of acting out.
It’s not often, but every once in a while I can’t help but want the puppies and rainbows and pixie dust. Unfortunately, I don’t think clapping my hands and wishing very, very hard will work in this situation.
“If everybody else your age is doing something very different to what you’re doing, there’s always going to be someone saying that you might not succeed, that you might not make any money with that. All of those things will go away if you really focus on what makes you happy.” – Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo the monster
This is why I still love Sesame Street.
“When a puppet is true and good and meaningful, it’s the soul of the puppeteer that you’re seeing.”