Thursday, March 10, 2011



I meant to write about this on or about Valentine's Day. You know, be all timely. As it turns out, I was busy doing the most romantic thing I could think of for my girlfriend instead, (Hi, Kat!). Then, I was busy finishing up a complete rewrite of a novel that's been stuck in my head. The first rule of novels is that if you're not finished, keep writing. Darned thing won't write itself.

So I finished the novel earlier this week. One little sentence is still bugging me, with many implications, but it actually has to do with this blog I meant to write. I can justify a pause here as sorting some stuff out in my head.

If there's one thing that the 21st century seems to be pushing, it's the notion that everything's better with an audience. :)

So. Like the subject line and the Valentine's Day lead-in indicate, this is about love. There's a lot of confusion about love in our culture. It's a vague, vague word, you know. Normally, we're not supposed to be so ambiguous in our meaning. Like, if you asked me to describe the Atlantic Ocean, a cactus and your mom, I could say, "Well, they're all mostly water."

It'd be technically correct, but it's a ridiculous thing to say.

Despite that, I can say: "I love chocolate," "I love a good book," "I love my girlfriend," "I love my family," and nobody seems to think that it's odd. We all take it on faith that we understand each others' underlying nuances when making those statements, and then we wonder how we fail. :)

In the name of clearing that up for myself... a few thoughts:

The first is that I love Dune, and I love Kat, and on the one hand, those feelings have about as much in common as a cactus and the sea, (I'll leave your mom out of this, from here on out).

Dune is a jaunt away from real life. You get to spend a little while somewhere else. Someplace where interesting things happen, and maybe you learn a valuable lesson about something-or-other. (For instance, Dune taught a lot of us that if you walk without rhythm, you won't attract the worm.)

Kat is someone I spend ungodly amounts of time with: we talk, we do stuff. We help each other. We're building a life together.

In either case, I appreciate them for what they are. I don't wish they were something else. I don't read Dune and think to myself, "This is fine, except that there aren't any giant robots." I don't look at Kat and think to myself, "Man, if only she had red hair."

I like them. Just as I found 'em. To me, that's the basic, water like commonality inherent to all love, whether it's for a friend or a piece of chocolate.

Of course, this leads to the second big problem, here:

In aggregate, people are meant to be together. We are social animals. The greatest man or woman in the world still couldn't accomplish what they do without the help and support of others. We all get lonely, and none of us could do everything needed to sustain ourselves with a decent standard of living, (although that's a blog for another day).

In the specific, though... no pair of human beings were actually meant for each other, no matter how well they get along. No married couple was 'born to be together.' We come with different desires and baggage and a million barriers to getting along, especially in a space as close as 'the same bed every night.'

Kat and I had a brief fight about something stupid yesterday. Didn't last and it didn't matter, but it did happen, and we're so sweet that I'm pretty sure we disgust casual passers-by.

The whole thing takes work.

Of course, we don't like to talk about it in those terms because it sounds sort of horrible. Like, if I say, "Baby, I love you, I just have to really put my back into being around you," well...

Doubt there's anybody here reading this who doesn't know me, but that's one of my problems getting along with people: I almost always tell the truth, but I have a gift for making it sound a lot worse than it is. It's why becoming an economics major was such a good fit for me: I'm sure I could make 'profits rose,' sound like an excuse to jump off of something. (That's the great thing about economics: it probably still is.)

I don't mean this in a bad way, though, so I'm going to stretch a little and try resorting to a metaphor, here:

Having a relationship with someone, whether it's sexual or friendly, close or distant, is a lot like sharing a garden with them. You have this shared space, and it's, you know, nice. At the minimum, you can come in and smell the flowers. If it's a really nice one, maybe you can pick some fruit.

In one manner of speaking, the whole thing is free. There's no charge for admission. You don't pay a dollar to pick an apple. That would make the whole arrangement something unsavory instead.

However, that doesn't mean that a garden bears no cost or responsibility: gardens need to be tended. You have to weed and water and plant and make sure there's enough sunshine, or the whole thing will be ruined. More than that, if one person does too much of the work, they'll get bitter and kick their partner out. People have different strengths and weaknesses, too: maybe one person likes to dig, and one person likes to weed.

More than that, you have to agree about what goes in it: there's no one flower bed that would work for every two people, and the only way to figure it out is to ask.

So that's why I wasn't here with bloggy things to say on Valentine's Day: I was gardening, so to speak. Kat had a new video card, but she doesn't really know how to install them. I do, but I hate mucking around inside of computer cases, and I'll admit that I was putting it off. So I took her computer apart, and that's what we did: we figured out how to get the stupid thing working together, and now she has it.

Another girl might've wanted flowers and dinner, or a movie. If I were with a girl like that, that's what I would've done. This is what Kat actually wanted, though, and she's still all tickled about it.

It was a good day.

Oh, one final thought, while I'm on the topic of 'things I love and why:'

My dear friend Denise plugged my blog just recently, and I wanted to do the same. Not as a quid pro quo, but because I really love what she's done with the place. It's funny and honest, which are my two favorite things. :)