Disclaimer: I usually don’t write personal posts on this blog – I save them for the other one that no one reads. 🙂 But I’m trying something new. If this isn’t your particular brand of vodka, please skip.
It recently hit me – for the first time perhaps – that the reality of marriage isn’t all that far off. Whereas for girls my age, the prospect of marriage is already weighing on them, for most gentlemen I”m friends with, it’s something we don’t discuss, something that just isn’t a concern yet. I have always thought of marriage as something that comes in the distant future, after I grow up, almost as though it’s something that’ll happen to someone else – a different Prasid. A taller, skinnier, more-mature, successful, well-dressed Prasid in a black suit and red bowtie, marrying a beautiful and equally-successful, equally-tall girl in a red saree that matches his bowtie. I think perhaps this is part of some deeper problem – some inability to see the person I want to become, my goals and ambitions, and then connect that back to the life-path I’m currently on.
In describing why I read Bill Clinton’s autobiography, I once told someone that I wanted to know more than just what he did as President, I wanted to take the goal of “being President of the United States” and then connect that ambition back to the life-path he took to get there, and trace it back to where I am now. I didn’t get the unvarnished truth – I really should read biographies rather than autobiographies.
In any case, it finally occurred to me that I’m 26, I’m done growing taller, I’ve lost the weight, and I’m not getting any smarter, so the consciousness I have today, the body that I have today, isn’t too far from the consciousness and body I’ll have when I get married. It won’t be someone else, an entirely different taller-older-wiser person – it’ll be me.
Now, facing the prospect of marriage, means also coming to terms with the real possibility of divorce. I grew up a romantic. I didn’t think I’d drink until I did. I didn’t think I’d hookup with girls, until I did. I didn’t think I’d ever hurt a girl, until I did. And I don’t think I’ll ever get a divorce, but whose to say?
I grew up thinking that I was smarter than most, more in touch with my feelings, more moral, and would find someone who truly fit me, and be with them forever. I grew up believing that family was unbreakable – that no matter how much I might hear my parents fight downstairs, in another hour it would be over, and everything would go back to normal. I was lucky enough to grow up without any doubt about the strength of their marriage, perhaps because they hid their own doubts from me. And so now I believe if I ever make that unbreakable vow to someone, it will be forever. Yet as I look around at other smart self-aware people, I see them getting divorces, I see them calling the cops on their husbands, I see married friends flirting with exes, I see them playing with their lives and marriages as though this is high school dating and there are no consequences.
And now I’ve started down the same path. I can see myself slowly doing things that the old me might now have approved of. And I justify it because I treat it like I’m still in high-school, like we’re still just having fun, because we’re not playing in the majors yet – because this isn’t my real life yet – this isn’t that other more serious Prasid yet. But perhaps the only way I’ll bridge the gap from my life-path to serious-Prasid’s life-path is by trying. By being the mature older guy.
Perhaps I’m just not ready yet. Maybe it’ll just take me a couple more years of having fun. Or, perhaps, I don’t have someone to grow-up for. Maybe the more-serious man doesn’t emerge until he is needed, until the universe requires it from him. Or until a woman expects it of him. Finally, perhaps I’ve spent my entire life waiting for my real life to begin. I know in my heart that, at least when it comes to relationships, I’ve spent my entire life waiting to lose weight so that my real dating-life could begin. Well, I’m close enough, and we’re certainly playing with live ammo now.
Here’s another thought: I recently read an article that suggested that today we’ve bought into this fairly-tale of uncompromising, eternal love. We all want someone to find the perfect someone – the perfect soul-mate who is our complement and equal and loves us for who we are, quirks and all. We all expect so much – the fairy-tale – and we’ve forgotten that love is flawed and imperfect and messy. We’ve forgotten that the vows we take are not just to each other, but to the institution of marriage, which our culture used to revere as bulletproof, impenetrable, but which today is thin and rife with escape hatches. We’ve lost our commitment to slugging-it-out in the trenches to make it work. We are convinced we can find someone better outside the relationship, when perhaps the truth is that we can make it work with anyone, if only we are willing to stay and fight.
I wish I had a few older-brother figures to have a serious conversation with about marriage and divorce. I can only hope that somehow, as we watch on the sidelines as others play the game, we are learning something, internalizing some desire to avoid these same mistakes. I can only hope that I stop waiting for my turn, that I get off the bench, and play as though we’re in the majors. I guess we’ll see.