As a naive youth, I once believed my soul mate was just around the corner. Now well into adulthood, I suspect this corner resides in a parallel universe. My doppelg?nger is probably happily married to my Mr. Right. And me? I’m in this universe alone, a fairly successful single woman trying to make a decent go of it. If I had a hat to throw in the air, I’d be indistinguishable from an old Mary Tyler Moore repeat on TV Land.
Normally I’m content being single. The only time I feel alone is during a crisis. Then I curse the absence of a human being that is legally bound, by God and law, to provide that comforting hug when I need one.
But really, neither God nor law can bind one person to another. Someone is truly connected only when they want to be, not because a legal ruling or commandment tells them so.
This is the thought I had when I entered a restaurant on the eve of my birthday and discovered my closest friends assembled for a surprise party. Dear friends that I share priceless memories with. Memories and experiences that connect us in ways that a marriage certificate doesn’t always guarantee.
I observed Melissa, unable to enjoy herself. She was too busy tending to her restless toddler twins. In between changing diapers and cleaning up spilt punch, she expressed her disgust over her husband. He had reneged on his promise to baby-sit. Had other plans. This wasn’t the first time, I recalled.
She drove 150 miles and was able to stay just one hour because it was past the twins’ bedtime. No dinner for her. No reminiscing. No mingling.
Disappointment was plastered all over her face. It was the same look she wore the previous year when she told me how her husband had remembered her birthday only after she came home from work carrying the flowers I had sent her.
And Luisa – and Eric
Then there was my dear childhood chum, Luisa, sipping champagne, giggling. I thought about the nasty divorce she recently experienced. She’d thought they had a strong marriage. Until, that is, she learned about her husband’s mistress.
And what would I do without Eric? There he stood by the appetizers happily nibbling on shrimp. This kind and funny man who installs my computer and stereo equipment because he tolerates my phobic ignorance of anything electrical. His heart was broken when his wife decided she didn’t want to be married anymore. Instead, she wanted to paint. In Guam.
Disappointment, betrayal, heartbreak. Painful experiences endured by loving people who deserved so much better. And that was it. My blinding epiphany. When I realized that I was blessed to have more love in my life than do many married people.
People who got married because it was expected of them.
Or because they were afraid of being alone.
Or who stay married because they think it’s better than being single. It’s not necessarily.
A certificate or vow or law of God doesn’t guarantee love or devotion. Only the heart can promise that.
And as I watched my friend with her twins reluctantly leave a room filled with love and laughter, I was reminded of a quote: “Don’t marry someone you can live with. Marry someone you can’t live without.”
I still hope to one day meet that special man. But if he decides to continue living in a parallel universe, I won’t be at a loss, because I’ll always have my friends.
Them, I can’t live without.