You’re sick of seeing this picture, I totally understand, but I don’t think I ever will be. Sorry.
I don’t know exactly how many proms Lynnette and I have chaperoned together. We look forward to the food. We like getting dressed up. Lynnette enjoys checking out the girls’ dresses. I love seeing the glammed-up alternate reality versions of my students.
I will never love as insanely as I did when I was their age. I don’t mean well or even intensely. I mean it literally – I will never again approach the highs and lows experienced by the romantic madman I was from the ages of 18-21. It’s just not possible because that guy wasn’t grounded by reason. He got yanked around a lot by his libido, but sadly, more importantly, he was in the thrall of uncertainty. He worried that he would never love or be loved. Then, he was afraid he would never love or be loved again. Finally, he was terrified that love would never be so good or feel the same way again. 18-year old me held on tightly. Too tightly.
When I hear my students reveal the details regarding various facets of their romantic relationships I feel ambivalence. While I certainly empathize with heartbreak and betrayal, I sometimes scoff and shake my head at the complaints aimed against minor flaws or inconsistencies. I know they want perfection. I also know they’re not going to get it. It’s something they’ll have to learn on their own, in time.
Winter, 2002: I flopped onto my bed in my parents’ house. It was a decent hour. But not in Omaha. I didn’t know Lynnette was there. She answered the phone in the early morning hours. I don’t know why I called. Everything else in our story has a reason except for this call. It is inexplicable. I had not seen her in some time. We weren’t great friends. I just called her. She says she answered because she had no idea why I would call at such a random hour. She remembers that it was snowing outside. I don’t remember what we talked about. The only thing I remember saying to her during that phone call is “Oh, shit, my bad” after she told me what time it was on her end. Humble beginnings.
The love I share with Lynnette is far from perfect. It rises and it falls, and when it falls we have to work to see it rise again. It requires the kind of effort and time I very rarely afford anything else in my life. When viewed that way, I suppose, my relationship is the most important thing in my life. Perfection is not impossible but it is unsustainable. I hope you understand if I wish for it to linger as long as it can.