You love her
But she loves him
And he loves somebody else
You just can't win
And so it goes
Till the day you die
This thing they call love
It's gonna make you cry
I've had the blues
The reds and the pinks
One thing for sure
— Love Stinks
J. Geils Band
When I got married, our Master of Ceremonies made a bit of a flub during one of his speeches. Now, consider, that this man was not only a journalist, but a theatre-junky as well, which means A) He should know the importance of proper word use; and B) He should be comfortable in front of a room full of people, and not mangle his words because he's nervous.
He was talking about marital advice, and how he had once heard that, to live happily ever after, don't marry someone you can live with. Instead, and this is what he said, "Marry someone you can live without."
Which, when you think about it, is pretty poor marriage advice.
I think he meant to say, "Marry someone you can't live without," because that seems to make a bit more sense, and a better punchline for that statement. But in the last couple of days I've been thinking about this line, and this flub, and about the people you can't live without, and the people you can't live with, and how sometimes, because life is cruel and God hates us all, they're the same person.
I'm sure we all have some first-hand experience with the idea that love will turn up whenever it wants to. You don't get to call on it. You don't get to say, "Hey, love, that hot chick on the other side of the bar with the killer cleavage, you totally need to make me fall in love with her." You can maybe fall in lust with her, you can maybe even approach her and pick her up and have a few weeks of psychotic, sweaty, drunken sex. But when all that's said and done, you might have fallen in love, or you might have discovered that she chews her celery sticks way too loud and you can't stand sitting a the dinner table with her. And given the way things usually go, it'll probably be the latter.
I've done my share of falling in love, and done my share of getting my heart busted up because of it. I'm mostly okay with that, because that's that's just sort of what happens in life. You have some good times, you have some bad times, and at the end of the day or the end of the year or the end of your life, there's a balance.
But even though I can say that I'm okay with the whole love-and-then-heartbreak thing, I also need to say that I think I've pretty much given up on it anyway. Again, not because I'm tired of the heartbreak -- I mean, shit happens. It's because I'm pretty sure I've met the woman I can't live without. And now I'm living without her.
This might seem like a contradiction. I guess it is. I have an easier time with it because, while she might be the person I can't live without, she's also someone I most certainly can't live with it. And it's one of those situations where love, because life is cruel and God hates you, points you in the direction of someone who is just totally, completely wrong for you.
And it doesn't matter how much you admit that to yourself. It doesn't matter how much you say, "If we ever lived together, we'd probably kill each other within in three months." It doesn't matter how much you say, "We just don't have those many things in common." It doesn't matter how much you say, "She has horrible taste in movies and she's too driven by wealth and success and she doesn't even seem capable of understanding the attempt towards art." It doesn't matter how many times you say any of those things, because you're madly in love with her, and you can't do anything about that.
Because life is cruel and God hates you.
This idea -- being in love with someone who is just totally, completely bad for you -- beat the shit out of me emotionally for a very long time. And it still shows up now and then to give me a good solid punch in the kidney. Because it's such a contradictory idea. It tears your brain up. It drives you mad. It makes you wish that you were dead...or at least cold, heartless, cruel, and incapable of love. Or drunk.
But that's the way it goes sometimes. Life is cruel. And yeah, God probably hates you.
And you can't do anything about life's cruelty or God's hatred, so you soldier on. You say, "Meh, fuck it," and you try to forget about it, and even while you forget about it, you have to concede that you might as well give up on that whole stupid love thing at the same time. Because you've already done it -- you've already found the person you can't live without. But goddamn if you can live with her either.
The idea of not falling in love sounds bad, I guess, to some of the idealized romantic types, but it really isn't. It's surprisingly comfortable. Surprisingly safe. And it isn't even so much that you're running from the pain. The pain, broken hearts, crap like that, it isn't so bad. It's all part of the balance of life. All you're really saying is, "Been there, done that, found about the best I'm ever going to, and that didn't work out so well. Might as well call it a day."