Every Sunday morning, my husband pours his coffee and reads the heavy-hitting sections of the New York Times. I read the Style section, breezing through the essays until I immerse in Vows, the wedding announcements.
I’ve been reading about the relationships exhibited in the Sunday NYT since I was a single twentysomething living in an urban flat just north of Detroit. Well, actually, longer – when I lived in New York as a new college graduate and then in Washington, D.C., as an aching poet and aspiring journalist.
Vows has been a mainstay in my life for more than 20 years, in fact, and many weeks my father will comment, “Did you see that announcement in the NYT…”
This pursuit of love is one of those universal truths that rings familiar to pretty much all people (except Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, but he’s fictitious). Reading about how youthful eager faces found each other or rugged, weathered old ones, or people who’ve tripped through several failed marriages and come out on top, faces to the sun, finding love finally, it’s a step toward believing life has something remarkable to it after all.
We all love a good love story, even if some of us won’t admit it. The fierce, always-single individuals who insist they’re better off alone, deep down they know they’d be warmed by another body in the milky dark or just a voice on the other end of the phone line, inquiring about something as mundane as how their day is going.
We all want to be loved. And with it, we end up realizing how fulfilling it is to love another.
This kind of love, it’s not the real love, the one from my spiritual sources, defined as universal identification. This kind of love is the movie-kind, preferential attachment, I-choose-you love, the kind that clings like clothing without a dryer sheet, that fills us up then leaves us wanting.
Years ago, when I rolled along my own tumultuous love story, I wondered about how many of these happy faces ended up in pictures torn in half. The national stats say something like half, right? Through the years, the NYT has exhibited articles about what-happened-to-them, but they’re usually stories of how relationships deepened, children were born, barns restored and couples fled the city for the country.
The ones who split don’t quite get covered.
There is a picture in yesterday’s section of two men with bald heads locking lips. You can’t see their faces except for one half of one man’s glasses and the skinny oxygen tube that runs under his nose. It’s a gay couple, late in life, exhibiting their love because it’s finally societally acknowledged that their love is valid, too.
The big feature article that heads the Vows section features the author Joyce Maynard in her happily-ever-after story, on the brink of 60, finding true love with an older man amid the freedom of midlife.
There’s an Asian couple and a lesbian couple and way too many Jewish couples (considering our small corner of the population) and a bunch of vanilla mainstream Christian couples whose friends became Universal Life ministers to officiate at the occasion.
The lead story on yesterday’s Style section is of Caroline Kennedybeing nominated to become the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and the whole Kennedy family fairy tale legacy.
Our lives are punctuated by tales of happy endings and surmounting life’s challenges. It has to be like that – because if everything doesn’t always work out in the end, what, exactly, have we signed up for?
To believe that love is not only possible but a redemption of sorts, that’s what makes us more human than just about anything else. We believe that hope lives in another person, the perfect kind of companionship, and that possibility lives down the street, with any number of intertwinings and connections and relationships that grow from this one union.
We do not focus on the late-night fights or the farting in bed or the frustrations that he doesn’t handle the checkbook the same way she does. (None apply to me of course. Yeah, right.)
We focus on the story line of forever and enduring, even beyond this earthly existence, because it makes life more fun, more endearing, more worth all the incredible effort.