Adventures in Dating Land

The Wandering Misery Returns

Posted on: September 1, 2008

I was on vacation in Egg Harbour, Wisconsin with my family for the past week. If you’ve never been there, it’s a small village on the peninsula, only about 250 people boasted in the population. Very quaint, lots of good shopping and adequate dining (superior if you enjoy cheese and cherries.) I spent most of the week wandering the towns with my family, horseback riding, bicycling, and reading. And thinking. I’ve had quite a lot on my mind the past couple of weeks, and this week wasn’t exactly the relaxing escape from reality that a vacation is supposed to be. Of course, that made the trek back to Columbus that much harder.

In my week away from reality (per se), McCain elected Governor Palin as his VP candidate, a move of which I am very pleased with, and will make me even more saddened should they lose the election. The little I know of Palin, I admire and respect, and she may well be on the way to becoming one of my “idols,” so to speak, of the world. Also, the news of impending doom of Gustav and all that…I didn’t have internet up in the cabin, and the cable TV was on the fritz, so I really felt out of the loop of life and times…no New York Times to speak of, only the occasional headlines from Fox News and the Colbert Report. Apparently Casey Anthony is also a big crazy person? Who didn’t get that memo?

In my quest to escape my own mind, I polished off three and a half books: Breaking Dawn (Stephenie Meyer), Mirror Mirror (Gregory Maguire), All the Sad Young Literary Men (Keith Gessen), and am in the process of reading The Enchantress of Florence (Salman Rushdie). I was taken with each of these books, but Gessen’s work was one that struck a realistic chord in my gut that I didn’t necessarily wish to be reminded of.

His book accounts three recent college graduates, all affiliated with either Jewish or Russian heritage, all struggling with the slipperiness of their youth and the mistakes they are making in their lives and relationships. Though I’m in no relation to the Jewish or Russian side, and a couple of years from my loss of youth, I’m already feeling the burden. And the loss and pain of relationships…well that was something I felt from my very first major breakup, at seventeen.

One scene in which I felt a particular wrench in my side was that of the character Mark, of whom I liked the least (perhaps because I saw too much of myself in him). There comes a point when he is dating two women at once, and decides that he must leave one of them. The one he chooses to leave he also reasons, in his mind, that she is the one more suited for him. She is closer to his age, and they are closer, and more in tune with their paths and needs to each other. But he leaves her, for reasons not clearly portrayed. And there comes a moment when he realizes that every failed relationship leaves one with a piece of themselves separate, that the departed has taken with them. And that really, all the adult human race has become are blocks of meat and flesh hobbling around with one another, grappling at the remains of those they have torn and become forever bound. With every heartbreak, we break a piece of ourselves and give it eternally to the one that broke our heart, or whose heart we broke.

So how, then, can we ever expect to give ourselves to someone completely and honestly? To have true, passionate, unbarred love for another person? Is it possible? Have we made ourselves incapable of completeness, of satisfaction, in our own fruitless endeavors? Are these the consequences we reap from our failed relationships; the incapacity to ever hold on to a successful one?

In my impending dread at the loss of yet another piece of myself, I can’t help but dwell here, in these thoughts. The most popular fear among Americans statistically is being alone. And we all are, essentially. We have constructed islands within ourselves, to which we only have access to, and because of our loss of limb or appendage, can never fully grant access to another person. But in a way, we are not alone in the fact that we are all alone. And in a strange, warped sense, this could possibly be the thing that could heal our severed wounds.

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