When I was little, I played in the fern garden of my hated neighbour, pretending it was this raucous city with homes and streets, hurried businesses, the hustle and bustle of green and white striped socks and hot wheels.
But there were never families. There were never couples. No one lived happily ever after in my worlds, in the ferns, or under the wrought iron vanity table in my bedroom. No one walked the aisle, had babies.
Everyone always died. Violently. Tied to the legs of that vanity as their enemies slit their throats, or just lost in the ferns, buried, quieted.
No one held hands and rode into the sunset.
As of late, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my expectations in a relationship, my scrambling for that magical sign of perfect adoration, my need for some inexplicable something. It hit me. My ideas of love, of warmth, of affection-they are all predicated on drama, on those last grand gestures.
My experience of a happy marriage was one where there was love, yes, but there was also a stinking festering cancer that slowly ate and destroyed my mother. Perhaps it’s easier to love someone perfectly, at least in the eyes of a 9 year old, when they are dying. Grand gestures hold meaning when they aren’t expected, and love is more vivid when you realize it’s leaving.
But this left me, as a teen, with the distinct impression I would be alone forever. That love wasn’t worth it. And when I found love, I sunk into it with teeth, clung to it, even if maybe I should have stepped back and taken a better look at my needs and wants. Because those needs have overcome everything else in my life, but to the point where I don’t even understand what I do want and need because I have never had the joy of a real, loving, NORMAL relationship around me. I’ve become driven by a need for grand declarations, I weep at movies that have those impossible scenes of love and devotion, rationally knowing that real life has mortgage payments and school picture days, and not passion inspired by death, not every day. I weep for the unreal, and feel like some uneducated putz watching soap operas and trying to figure out how I got where I am.
I crave something that truly isn’t real, not in any sustainable way, and then I push away the things real life is built on, small gestures, little kindness, an ear, and wonder why I’m so hard to love. I’ve figured that out now, discovered one last legacy of losing my mother, a legacy which has truly created a monster.
I’d like that to be buried now too.