This week my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. 30!!! This number blows my mind. Maybe it is because, only being 28, I have never done anything for 30 years. Including breathing. Can you really have a concept of time that is longer than you have lived? On the other hand, maybe it seems so long because I cannot think of anything that I want to do for 30 years. Not my current job (although I do think I am somewhat in the right field, thank God), not my current living situation (but for right now, it’s bliss), and not my current financial situation (damn grad school loans).
But then a realization hit me. My parents didn’t know that they could do 30 years together either. And, to get right down to it, nobody does. Everyone who gets married cannot say for certain what they will be doing 30 years after their big day. They can swear that they will be celebrating, but no matter how perfectly they complement each other today, their tomorrows are still just filled with hope. They may say that they are able to picture it in their mind, maybe even with an almost creepy precision, but until it is actually happening, it really is just wishing on a star. A leap of faith. A prayer not centered in reality.
October 17, 1980, a date most people couldn’t remember with their life on the line, will always mean something to my parents. It was the day my mom wore white, the day my dad abandoned his fraternity ways, and the day that they, together, said “I do.” And at this moment they are on the North Shore, celebrating a marriage that has lasted through raising a daughter and a son (and consequently, as adults, letting them go), a lot of “trial” pets (and one “good” pet), multiple moves (and even more multiple car payments), and the restorative faith in the world that a grandchild brings (which is imperative after the painful repercussions of deaths).
My parents had no guarantee of their future on October 17, 1980, and we are no different. So why did they make it? Why don’t other people? And it made me wonder….what is love? And how does it fit in?
I’ve some to the conclusion that I don’t know what love is. Well, I do, kind of, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. And I’m okay with that. I have to be, and so do you, because nobody really ever knows what love is. For awhile, I felt sad because I thought I had missed the boat. I thought my married friends had learned what love was, how to play the game and how to come out a winner. And then there was me, and I simply couldn’t figure out the rules. But it’s not like that. Married people are no more closer to knowing what love is than single people. Married people have not experienced a kind of love that single people haven’t. It’s just that 90% of love is timing. This realization has saved me HOURS. The only thing we will ever really know about love is that we will never really know what love is.
New couples will tell you that love is being internally giddy, that the world stops during a kiss, and that love is validation.
After a few months, they will tell you that love is being stable, that during a kiss, the world doesn’t stop, it’s more like it only slows down a bit, and that love is support.
After a few years, they will tell you that love is being comfortable, that during a kiss, the kids keep fighting in the background, and that love is comfort.
None if these scenarios are bad. At the same time, we have to realize that none of these scenarios are better than the others, either. I have been newly in love, swept off my feet with no disregard for anything but the here and now. I also have had that giddiness fade, and learned that there is something nice about supportive love, too. And finally, I have also felt too comfortable in relationships, to the point where sweats and pizza take the place of heels and prime rib.
I have seen someone look at me with nothing but brand new, glassy-eyed love. I have seen someone look at me from further away, and not only seeing who I am at that moment, but who I will be someday. I have seen someone look at me and find solace in the comfort that I provide. Unfortunately, none of these were always with the same person, and never were these at the time when I needed exactly the same in return.
I have had my heart broken. I have broken hearts, too. Both views, supposedly, were out of love. So, again, how can we define love?
I have vowed to never get my heart broken as painfully as I did the first time. Then I screwed that up. Alternatively, I have said the things that needed to be said, even though I knew it meant that you would never look at me the same way again. I loved that look you would give me. And I tried to make it make me love you more. But I was already past that point.
How I would define love is different to me now than how I would define it in my last relationship. And the one before that. And the one before that. And so on and so on. So how do we know what love is? How can something we consistently seek ever be achieved when the meaning is constantly changing? Maybe that’s what love is. Growing at the same speed. Wanting the same things at the same time, and not desiring things at the same time. Wanting sweats and pizza when the other person wants sweats and pizza, too. Maybe all that defines love is being lucky enough to have someone who is in the same emotional place as you, at the very same time that you are.
Maybe love is learned every day. And you change a little bit every day. And so your definition of love does, too. Here’s to hoping that somebody is changing at the same pace as you. And that you, too, will someday celebrate 3o years of together. However you do it. Whenever you do it. By any means necessary. And, even though I don’t know exactly what love is, because of my parents, I know what a good marriage looks like. I know that it’s not always simple, and it’s hardly ever perfect, but, with the right person, it IS worth waiting for. And I want to imagine nothing less than the perfect obscurity of what my 30 years might look like, just like you have. Because maybe simply having faith that love exists is the definition of love in its purest form. After all, having faith is really the only aspect that we can control. The rest is left up to timing.