Sorry. Let me start again.
Gevalt. I guess it just starts with gevalt. And with me rolling my eyes, which is downright mean, I suppose, given that this is a good friend I'm talking about.
"What's wrong?" I asked, "you look sour." Okay, not my best conversation starter, but it was the best that I could do. And the most polite I was likely manage.
She started crying. And she had reason to cry. Someone close to her had died recently. But this look wasn't that. Sour. That's what I called it.
"I don't have true love," she said. "Like you do." And she wasn't referring to my current partner.
Huh? And that's a big 'huh?'
Here's where I'm about to sound incredibly cold and callous. And stupid.
Do people really cry over such things? Never once in my life have I thought about the notion of 'true love.' I always thought it was a construct for the movies. Princess Bride, and the like. And even there, they're pretty much making fun of it. At least, that's what I thought.
At any rate, I was shocked by this, and I'm sorry to say it put me on a bit of a tirade, of the usual kind.
"What are you talking about?" I said. "I don't do 'true love.' I do road trips."
She gave me that look of incomprehension, and so I went on a bit. Here's what I do, and it has nothing to do with 'true love' —or I think, 'love' of any kind. I do:
crossroads: when you meet someone, and it's this moment, a juncture, and the two of you make that incredibly hard transition take place. This was the one she was calling 'true love'—it was standing in the crossroad with someone who needed to go the opposite direction. It wasn't about permanence, or holding on, or staying together. None of that. It was about crying, wailing really, in the crossroads, being afraid to cross over to the other side.
parallel roads: this one's really nice. Moving along in the same direction, but not quite on the same path. This one can be short or long. The most I've managed is two or three decades worth. But eventually, something else happens—because parallel roads can get boring after a while and you can reach a
dead end: dead ends aren't bad, really. When I was a kid I used to ride the busses all over the place wanting to see what the end looked like. I always liked knowing the end. When I read, I read the end first. Movies, I read the reviews first. It's not that everything stops at a dead end, it's that you get to
u-turn: and look at the same road, but from the other side. And it's funny, now the other side of the road feels so different. Coming might have been filled with expectation, surprise, a little fear, and a lot of adventure. You thought the road would look a certain way. But it just doesn't. Leaving feels great! You've mastered this road. You know it well. Been there, done that—and hopefully, it was a good road, a really good one. It's not that you were a tourist, exactly, but
timed lights: at a certain point, you were hitting all the lights at exactly the right speed. Which meant that you couldn't see anything new anymore, because all you're thinking about is making the next milestone at exactly the right moment. Think of those folks with their five-year plans... or longer. They want all the lights to line up, they're just zipping through checking off the milestones. Worst part about it is they can be completely
derailed: when the lights don't line up in accordance with their expectation. Well, I really like stop lights. They give me a chance to look around and appreciate the landscape. And I like being
just a passenger: sometimes. Because I really have gotten tired of
doing all the driving: I had this dream once. This omen, really. In the dream, I was trying to drive my husband's car and my car at the same time. Which I was perfectly capable of doing, apparently. But one of the cars rebelled—I think it was mine—and started driving itself. And as we struggled for control, my car took over, and backed us over a ledge and down into the depths of the 7th Avenue reservoir. And we (my car and I) sank. And as the water started to fill around me, I didn't struggle or try to escape. I said, with relief: "I forfeit." And that was the end of that. I think we call that a
car wreck: and car wrecks can do a lot of permanent damage. And it's hard to get back on the road again. And you have to make a really big change.
And you find yourself back at the crossroads...
So. Don't speak to me about 'true love.'
But. I've been on some quite beautiful roads. And what they say is true: It is the journey and not the destination that makes 'it' all worthwhile.