Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Come Thou fount of every blessing

Being single is hard.

Right now, I'm not say that for the reasons you might expect. I've stopped worrying that my eggs are getting old, as Anne Lamott says, "like the eggs you get at 7-11" and I can live without cuddling and intimacy and someone to talk about my day with on a regular basis. I can also live without having an automatic date for the wedding and being included in my friends' "couple nights."

But I'm having trouble living without someone who fucks with my shit. I'm having trouble living without someone who needs to forgive me and does. I'm having trouble living without someone who thinks I'm funny and annoying and sexy and slovenly and needy and a blessing and who wants to hang out with me most of the time despite those contradictions. I miss having someone I can get angry at who will stick around until we both feel better. I miss having someone who rests his head on my chest and lets me stroke his hair while he cries in the safety of my arms and the dark.

I've been reading Debbie Blue's book From Stone to Living Word. It's blowing my head off. She is able to lay out the logical narrative ending the journey at truth I believe intuitively and so can't explain.

She writes that the Garden of Eden was about humans convincing themselves that to be god-like is to be independent heroes. She points out that so many of the heroes we admire are shown to be weakened when they attach themselves to other people. Look at the Jedi Knights and Spiderman, she says. But the reality is that God actually gave up being alone in order to attach himself to humans. I think we can all agree that God gets to be the ultimate role model for humans, right? And She does this both at Creation and again by taking on the form of Jesus. God invited the mess that is relationship as the ultimate state of perfection. It was good.

But we don't like chaos. We hate that the sea can wash over us in a tsunami and the rain can alluvasudden dry up or that mothers die of cancer. We want order and rules. We want experiences that we can hold in our hands, analyze and understand completely. Even if these rituals, rules and explanations don't actually keep destruction and hunger at bay. Anything that assures us that life is not a mess - just like a relationship - is an idol, according to Debbie Blue. Because life is a relationship between us and God. God keeps insisting on it. No matter how often we walk away from the truth that we cannot exist unless God wants us to, no matter how much we want to believe that the highest position to aspire to is as a lone-wolf tycoon, God insists on fucking with our shit and forgives us and thinks we're funny and annoying and sexy and slovenly and needy and a blessing and wants to hang out with us most of the time despite those contradictions. She writes:
It would be revelatory to recognize that somewhere we believe (or if not quite believe, then act in ways that suggest we believe) that it might be good to be alone - not just part of, but better than, bigger than, more important than. Not one with but removed from, set apart from, somehow transcending the masses. I think this story [the apple] in Genesis might help us see that somewhere, consciously or unconsciously, we question the goodness of our relatedness all the time.

I agree with Blue wholeheartedly both regarding the superior state of being in relationship with all of its mess and that we tend toward aloneness by default. "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love." I think Laura Kalpakian says it similarly in Steps and Exes but gives it a feminist twist:
Only men think it’s so romantic to go it alone. Look at you – you’re off with your boat – you and no other. Man against the sea! Why do men think you can only be a hero by yourself? Man against Nature! Man against Society! Why don’t men ever acknowledge that keeping something together can be just as heroic as being all alone? Men are always against something. Why can’t they be for something? [. . .] I’m not committed to universals. I’m for very modest, particular things. An ordinary life. Watching my daughter grow up. Making a home for us. A living. Nothing very grand or ambitious.
Kalpakian resonates as well as Blue does for me because my experience with men is the same as her character's.

I have been thinking about the ex-boyfriends that I am beginning to stack up in my backyard like firewood since the divorce. Although one or two of them didn't work simply because of a lack of chemistry, the majority of them didn't work because the guys wanted to date me but didn't want to be my boyfriend. They didn't want to get their lives all mixed up in mine.

Jeffrey was the exception when I lived on the island. Tom noted once that Jeffrey and I had such distinct shared mannerisms that it was hard to imagine us as individuals.

I miss that. I don't really know how to find it again. From either God or a man. I have some guesses but my batting average is pretty low.

Being single is hard.


Jess said...

There's a repeating line in Song of Solomon that reads, "Do not awaken love until it pleases." I always thought that was such crap: if you feel love awake in your heart, for the someone real, or the someone coming, why shouldn't you awaken it? And what if it wakes itself up? How do you stamp down the hungry and the gushy and the working out?
You sound very smart, Rebecca. I'm not surprised, I always knew it so. You know things about yourself and relationships many women never know. But it's hard to curl your legs around smart in the middle of the night, I know.

duckbill said...

we need strong words like these. thanks for being so honest. i just know there will be someone in your life who is really beautifully imperfect and disarmingly corrugated, and i hope whoever that person is, you can get lost in him.

this lack of a time table thing sucks rocks. :( please keep being this honest. i'm grasping for comforting words here and they just aren't to be found right now. words cannot embrace you in the dark. semantics cannot hold you. sentiments can only scratch your back when you're asleep.

Amanda said...

So what happened to the Canadian?

PrincessMax said...

Ah, that would be one of the tragic victims of chemistry. We still hang out but I just stopped like-liking him, which was a bummer because he's pretty cool.