Pumpkins that turn into carriages. Little mice role-playing valiant white steeds. Glass slippers and royal balls. It always begins in this dream state where every meal tastes better; every sunny day is a little brighter, and each romantic evening longer and more memorable. Then comes the white-knuckled ranting. A discourse of expletives and stomping away to a ‘happy place’. Guerilla warfare and subversive subterfuge of the highest caliber. The course of relationships can be a white-water raft ride or a roller coaster that could compete with the Behemoth.
Whether or not our love lives can be measured by chemical reactions in the brain, reduced to a purely biological phenomenon, we each still feel the grip of love as real as anything else, maybe even more so.
For me, falling in love tends to make everything surreal. Days blend into nights, obligations and expectations seem far less haughty, and everything sacred lies within my grasp.
I’ve heard that the brain will actually focus major resources on particular moments, making them feel longer. This could be true of a first kiss and every other memorable moment during the gracious period of entwining the deepest part of myself with another person. Every last one of us is granted the opportunity to experience this wonderful time- perhaps even many times over.
The remaining question is not whether or not you will fall in love, rather the question becomes how do you make that strong connection last?
First of all, you are lucky to make these deep connections with someone. Someone who can both laugh with and at you. Someone who stands by your side when you are up against horrible odds. Someone for whom you feel obligated to do the same. Someone, perhaps, for whom you would “take a bullet”. These are not circumstances one should take lightly. These emotional ties are strengthened through daily ritual and practice, a practice of gratitude.
I am thankful that I have someone who will fight for me by fighting with me. Someone who will call me out on my crap and tell me what I could and should be doing better than I currently am. Someone who also expects me to do the same. I am grateful to have someone to judge me, with positive outcomes in mind. She keeps me grounded. Sends me skyrocketing through the atmosphere. Keeps me sane. Makes me crazy. This may sound, and is, extreme at times. So extreme I must question whether or not it is too much to manage, too much to return to a place of peace. Yet, peace does come. In abundance.
Perhaps this is the balancing act. Balancing such extremes as to test the boundaries of another person’s sanity and morality, to test their personal values and their devotion to those values. Through these tests, while seemingly chaotic and intolerable, we may find a truer definition of self than before and a clearer and more fulfilling concept of love and life than we had ever thought possible. It is through trials that we grow stronger and prevail.
Upon realizing this, I am no longer clouded with such grief over the dissolution of my ‘biological’ family. I’ve shed the dross of the ‘Nuclear’ family, shellacked upon me by a system of teachings that had not yet adapted; multi-media, an incubating school curriculum, all developed by a generation that had yet to pass the mantle. The modern family is clearly undefinable. Politicking families and the individual’s personal concept of a ‘significant other’ is no longer accomplishing anything and, so, Canadian policy in this regard has been in consistent reform to better suit the increasingly heterogenic concept. This is true of relationships too. Politically, Canada has come to define family as anyone you consider family. I couldn’t agree more. My Thanksgiving weekend was spent with all of my neighbours collectively making a massive feast. My fiancée and I with our 3 kids, the divorced single dad, the older couple whose patriarch adopted his wife’s daughter, the lesbian couple sharing 3 teenage to twenty-something kids between them, and extended family as diverse as the rest. These are the people with whom I choose to celebrate. This is the truth of love and relationships. Whomever will stand by you and support you, emotionally, financially, physically, holistically, and whom you will stand by too. That is the only defining factor in this postmodern age.
You’re asking ‘ok, Rick, I hear you, but how do you keep it together? How do you make it last?’
I have no magic answer. I keep it at this brief checklist:
“Am I in love?”