I am in the age of matrimony and babies. My facebizzle thread is constantly clogged with excited announcements of upcoming nuptials and bundles o’ joy. I’m happy and excited for my friends as they celebrate these milestones, but I often find myself succumbing to the dreaded sequence of life comparison. I feel no closer to marriage than I did at 20. My knee jerk reaction to a screaming baby is still “absolutely not“. My immediate future (read: grad school) simply does not allot for either of these momentous events, yet I find myself feeling… behind the curve? But this isn’t the SAT, it’s life. How can you keep yourself from seeing that grass as greener?
What really distresses me is the process of finding a lifepartner. I know I want to marry my best friend that also happens to be amazing in bed;that’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. Even still, you will inevitably fight with your bestie. They still drive you crazy sometimes… and sometimes you’re so glad you do not (no longer; love you E!) live with them. But no one’s perfect, especially not me. So, how do you reconcile those differences, how do you decide what’s doable and what’s a deal breaker? Dammit, how do you know they’re the one???
*Sigh* I’d like to say I believe in fate, but it seems like a cop-out to me. Like, ‘I can’t handle making my own decisions’, or, ‘I don’t want to be held accountable just in case I fuck it up’. But isn’t that the very nature of being a grown up? Being able to steer your own course?
Anywhos, I was listening to This American Life whilest paying bills on a normal, boring Monday morning. The overarching theme of the episode was coincidence: defining the nature and degree of it. There was one story that really resonated with me. On the surface, it was about allowing fate to bring you your mate. The woman in the story described her similar conundrum: how do you know when you meet the one? Is there even a one to be had? At the time she was a young 20-something, working as a clerk in a copy store. One day, she decided to take several dollar bills out of the register and write her name on them. She then ushered them out into the world, and decided that the first man to give her one of those dollars would be the man she married. She effectively washed her hands of the difficult task ahead and let fate take care of it for her.
I didn’t perceive her decision entirely in a light of intended irresponsibility. She didn’t solely rely on these various George W’s to fetch her husband. Rather, I got the impression that she just let go. That simple act allowed her to stop the internal nagging implanted by generations of beseeching grandmothers, and just let it happen au natural. Maybe I’m way off base here, but I feel like many busy ladies comme moi fall victim to that same societal demand: You need someone like you, with your ideals, your goals, your values, the list goes on and on. All those warnings achieve is a heightened sense of inevitable defeat. I’m so afraid of putting my whole heart into something or someone, because I worry that in the end it’ll have been a mistake; a waste; a pipe dream. It won’t work out because whatever bullshit thing with me, with him. The lovely, exciting beginning of a relationship is quickly doused with a sense of dread, just waiting for things to fall apart because I didn’t feel some exaggerated/possibly made-up emotion of universal bliss.
In the end, she completely forgot what she had done until several years later. She was about to embark on her fourth date with a wonderful guy when he surprised her with a gift: a framed dollar bill with her name written on it. That day when he bought lunch he found the dollar in his change, and he thought it a funny coinkidink. She swallowed hard and said, “Remind me to tell you something later”. After all, she didn’t want to freak him out! Needless to say, they did end up getting married. Cute sidenote: she eventually told him about her experiment with fate, and the framed dollar now sits perched atop their shared dresser.
I thought it was adorable, and serendipitous, and so out of a tacky rom-com that I normally scoff and deem utterly unrealistic. And yet… it really happened. It provided me with a weird sense of comfort…
Check it out here: This American Life: No Coincidence, No Story!
Who knows where it will end up? In whose hands? Maybe I’ll make another Laura deliriously happy. If nothing else, it eases my anxiety. Je lave mes mains.
Current Jam: “On again Off again” Riverboat Gamblers