I don’t believe in happy endings in the same way I don’t believe that tucked in shirts make you somehow more prepared for the world that is punching you hard in all the many places that count most. As far as I’m concerned, we are much too content in figuring out these places too simply, too matter of factly. The thing is, being human isn’t a tidy obligation. Shit is complicated.
Relationships have always come easy to me, even when I wasn’t looking for them. Which has been most of the time over the last eight years. My romantic entanglements have proven to be a loosely based paraphrase of that old Eagles song. In that span of time, there have been seven women on my mind at various points in time. Three that wanted to own me, two that were content with stoning me and a couple of lovelies who insisted they simply wanted to be friends of mine with a sweet benefits package. Excepting for my six year relationship with a teacher who found herself in a loveless marriage, it was rare that my personal business with these women intersected, which is why my therapist called me a “serial monogamist”- a term which sounds infinitely more interesting than it actually is.
All my rodeos could have rendered me a jaded, heartless misogynist, but that would’ve been a cop out. To my way of thinking, it’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you keep moving. I take something from every experience. Really, I take a lot of somethings, all of them good. What I never involve myself in is regret. I never understood how people get caught up in a person to such an extent that they allow their memories of the individual to haunt them. I believe the memories I carry are positive, useful steps into whatever comes next; not chains that hold me down and prevent me from diving into something new.
My latest transition had me thinking back to one of the last conversations I ever had with my friend George. The dude was an Irish gangster with a heart of gold. He was a friend of the family whom I once called a “second father,” to which he replied with some choice four letter words because he saw the term as being disrespectful to my old man. There was no gray area with George, so when he talked, I listened.
It was a few years back and I had extricated myself from an involvement with a certain young lady whose possessive nature unnerved me. I’d been drinking and bitching, two of my favorite endeavors in a post-relationship situation. George had seen me through some interesting situations in my younger days, and truth be told, he had saved my ass more than a few times when my impetuousness got the best of me. So he listened to me rail on for a while before he got started. And then he started talking about love and relationships, and then I figured it was time to stop bitching and start listening.
As he spoke these words, these great big words that existed inside a huge store of memories in his brain, I was entranced. Here was a man who had loved and lost, time and time and time again. His recall on certain stories possessed the lacquer applied by the healing hands of time, but not all of them. When he spoke of his second wife- a black belt gold digger- he hewed at his words with the same vitriol he had experienced all the way back then. And when he talked about the long time girlfriend he walked away from when she demanded a ring or else, his words were dressed in melancholy.
“She was the marrying kind . . . but I wasn’t going back to that shit . . .”
And then he talked about how, years later, she had been diagnosed with cancer. He ran to her and he stayed by her side until the end. He never regretted his decision to leave her, but that didn’t mean he didn’t love the woman as much as any woman he had ever known. Because he did. And I didn’t quite understand just how much he loved her until that conversation, but I’ll never forget it.
That’s how life and love works. You immerse yourself in the moments, without fear for the fleeting qualities of such a thing. You move on without regret, never looking back because that’s when you miss what’s ahead of you. You appreciate the chance, because that’s all you really get.
You make your happy ending.