There are a lot of different ways that I could have responded to the life I’ve lived.
I could be angry. I could be bitter. On the other hand, I could be a determined optimist who dusts off her rose-colored spectacles every morning.
I don’t think I am any of those things. I don’t think so.
It’s always pleasant for me to see men and women who are together and who stay together, not because either of them are particularly beautiful or otherwise desirable in any obvious, vulgar way, but simply because they have both made a commitment to having a life together and to being best friends forever.
At one point, I thought I had that.
There was a time when my spouse was my best friend. I felt like I could tell him anything, and it would never have crossed my mind to lie to him or even to not tell him what was in my head. I mean, I told him everything. Honesty meant a lot to me — still does — and if I care about you, I won’t keep things from you. And I thought he felt the same way. For awhile, I’m pretty sure he did.
I don’t know when that died. I don’t know why, either.
I do know that the experience damaged my ability to have faith in those kind of promises. I mean, I believe them when I look at my friend Larry and his wife, or my friend David and his wife. Still, it’s hard to bring myself to believe there is anybody who would exert themselves to growing old with me.
And when I look at this, I can only hope that she will never be disillusioned the way I was.
She seems so young and so hopeful, so trusting for all the issues that she has. And her David is very sweet to her now he’s sober. But I can’t help remembering that her father was sweetly romantic at one point in our relationship, too. He liked to do the chocolates and flowers and wining-and-dining stuff. In fact, after awhile, I got to be extremely unappreciative of these gestures because I noticed, at a certain point, that that’s all they were — gestures.
I’m that kind of ingrate, I guess. After awhile, I don’t give a shit about flowers on Valentine’s Day or on anniversaries if you’re a selfish prick the rest of the time.
So the fact that her guy resembles her father in this way makes it hard for me to keep from responding to her lovely Valentine’s bouquet with a spasm of ugly cynicism. I would really hate to spoil such a deliciously romantic gesture for her just because her stupid sick fuck of a father did his very best to destroy my faith in the love between a man and a woman.
And I’ll tell you the part about all this that really truly sucks. Deep down inside, I’m a closet romantic. I have a whole collection of trashy Harlequin romance novels that I like to read when I feel like reading but I don’t feel like thinking. I love the idea of a guy falling for me and being in love with me. I love the idea of being in love with somebody. Even more than that, I love the idea of a mutual commitment to build a life together, to grow old together.
But I have lost faith in the possibility that life holds anything like that for me.
I have already told Gina’s David that time would establish to my satisfaction whether he earns my approbation. He wants my approval and I want to give it to him, if for no other reason than that it would make Gina’s happiness more complete. I’ll confess that it’s tough for me to keep an open mind but the struggle is worth it.
Cynicism is a corrosive emotion. It leaves bitterness behind it. That’s not how I want to grow old.
I don’t want to let that man destroy my faith in love. I refuse to give him that victory.