Rattling Dishes

I’m listening to Natalie Merchant’s Beloved Wife, and I’m again reminded that with old age comes a sense of too much time perhaps. The narrator in the song has been left bereft by the death of his (or her) wife after fifty years and doesn’t know how to go on. The anguish in the song always brings tears to my eyes.

My inner-romantic longs for this grief, being unable to continue because my love is no longer with me. The cynic wonders if this is another example of the someday-my-prince-will-come myth. “Does this type of love happen anywhere outside movies, books and music?” the cynic asks.

Having never had a romantic relationship last longer than two years, I know something of that grief already, however. It’s a pre-emptive grief, knowing that it becomes less and less likely to be with someone for fifty years (just by dint of me getting older!). The grief is for missing a man who has not yet (nor may ever) come.

And yes, I’m an extremist, an all-or-nothing sort. The band Cake in their song Love You Madly talks about wanting a love where “all the dishes rattle in the cupboards when the elephants arrive.” I agree completely. To me, anything else is a waste of time. “I don’t want to sit across the table from you wishing I could run” as Cake puts it.

I’m sure many of you who are in long-term relationships want right now to tell me that I’m being unreasonable. That love isn’t like that. That love is also about not liking the person you’re with sometimes. I’m totally prepared for that, but even when I don’t like that person, I want to be madly in love with him. I’m not looking for happily-ever-after, just enduring passion.

This is why I’ve been single in my life more than coupled. I have set myself (not others – myself) a certain goal and am committed to sticking to it. For you see, as much as I dream of a dish-rattling passions, I don’t let not having one bother me (much). If I never feel that passion, I’ll still be content. At the end of my life (whenever that is), I’ll know that I never just filled time not being true to myself in any large-scale way.

Someday Lessons:

  1. Dreams are good, but don’t fill time waiting on those dreams.
  2. If you’re true to yourself, you’ll never have to just fill time.

Lunch Today:
A fluffy omelette with tomatoes, cheese and hot peppers.


6 thoughts on “Rattling Dishes

  1. Nada Thomson says:

    One day at a time,eh, Alex? Alone or part of a couple – it’s important to be the best person possible. If I find someone who is interested enough to devote time and emotional energy to getting to know who I am then I certainly hope I feel the same back!!

  2. Monica Ricci says:

    Alex, what an interesting post today. I don’t really believe that passion itself is enduring. I believe that there can be moments of passion in long term relationships, and I believe that as individuals we can have an enduring passion for life itself. But I don’t believe that passion between two people can endure within the confines of a long term relationship.

    To me, passion is what brings two people together and keeps them together long enough for some other “relationship glue” to take hold. If there is no other glue present (friendship, respect, love, admiration, companionship, etc) when the passion eventually and inevitably wanes, the relationship may not survive.

    I don’t think I’m being cynical, just honest. Having been married twice (both times to really great men) I think to expect that initial passion to endure is to set yourself up for disappointment. Love, Monica

  3. Alex Fayle says:

    I guess that’s what I mean by not necessarily liking someone but still being madly in love with them. Nothing stays the same – if it does, it’s stagnant and likely slightly rotten.

    Love and passion change as the relationship grows and changes. Yes, the initial infatuation mellows, but I never want it to mellow to the point of simple comfort or safety for the sake of just being with someone (i.e., for the sake of just filling time).

  4. Elizabeth Fayle says:

    I can pretty much guarantee that a long term relationship will “mellow to the point of simple comfort”. It is up to one member of the couple to recognize this and switch things up. If the glue that Monica speaks of is there, the other member of the couple will respond, and off you go again. However, both of you might want to coast along on simple comfort for awhile, and I really don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s sort of like a hibernation/rejunvenation process. No different than coasting along at work for awhile, or at a hobby you are normally excited about. Or hey, that house cleaning that doesn’t turn your crank right now. If a person isn’t willing to ride these times of lesser passion out, they put themselves at risk of missing out on the excitement and deeper passion of rebirth.

    Older–and slightly wiser?–Sister

  5. Monica Ricci says:

    I think Elizabeth is right. In successful long term relationships, the intial infatuation/passion is replaced by a deeper, abiding love, respect and yes, simple comfort. But Alex, don’t confuse comfort with complacency. Comfort is the most wonderful thing to have in a relationship because it supports the other parts well, such as the passion, the friendship, etc. You just have to be careful that you don’t let comfort become complacency or that you don’t begin taking each other for granted, not appreciating the wonderfulness of the other.

    For me, part of becoming an adult was realizing that passion would indeed wane, and understanding that it didn’t mean the relationship was wrong — rather it opened the way for something deeper and more solid.
    Love, Monica

  6. Emma Todd says:

    Ok, so this is definatley in one way that you and I are alike. To me, if it’s making my heart pound, I’m not wasting my or his time. I refuse to settle for less, because I deserve good things. Nor am I being uppity or too picky. Why push myself into a lack-luster relationship for the benefit of others, since society dictates that all passion must end and you should grasp at comfort rather than be alone? Call me a dreamer if you wish. Most of the people who know me actually say I’m too much of a realist. I’d much rather be myself, by myself, than pretending to settle for less than greatness.

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