Jack and I had our first romantic interlude on the 4th of
July. Back in college, going out with someone usually meant deciding
to end up in the same place, so I wouldn’t have called it a proper
date. We met at Boston’s Charles River Esplanade, watched a couple
bands and some fireworks, then Jack leaned over and said, “I dig you.”
The rest was history.
Over the years, I’ve come to believe relationships are meant to
teach us how to relate authentically yet continue to be our most
genuine selves. Some folks need to learn selflessness, others
intimacy, and some just need to learn to put the toilet seat down.
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Kicking off my relationship life on Independence Day with Jack was
hardly an insignificant twist of fate. This first real love set me off
on an endless quest to learn the meaning of freedom. See, Jack already
had a girlfriend. Thus, our year-long liaison was an education in
giving someone the space to have his own life outside of our shared
life together. However, I was too naïve to realize “space” might
include time with the boys and creative pursuits, but probably
shouldn’t include other girlfriends.
After Jack came a mostly happy marriage, until I discovered I’d
built my world around someone else. The whole enchilada was sure to
crumble unless I made life more my own. But the more fulfilled I
became as an individual the less this particular person seemed to fit
me. Much as I loved my guy, I had to break free to survive.
After marriage, I wanted nothing even remotely close to a
relationship. I formed flimsy emotional bonds then backed out once
things got too close. To this day, I feel sorry for the poor fella who
tried to hold my hand across the table on a dinner date only to have me
freak out about feeling trapped.
Of course, I soon started wanting connection again but only came
across sexy commitment phobes and men with life agendas that didn’t
include me. The subsequent disappointment always forced me back to
self, where I had the choice between blubbering about lost love or
making my own world even more interesting. Choosing the latter may
have been lonely. But it also created a more enticing life for someone
else to slip into or one to inhabit solo.
Maybe true love really is unconditional, maybe wanting someone to be
fulfilled with or without you is the key. If your woman or man needs
to follow a path you’re not on, why not love ‘em anyway? If love is
real, you couldn’t stop anyway if you tried. Nothing wrong with hoping
the path leads back to you.
I’m thinking it’s not only me who needs to learn this lesson. Maybe
the next step we modern gals need to take is learning to balance drive
and self-discovery with connection. And maybe dudes need to learn to
dig women’s independence. Most importantly, we all have to learn to
appreciate how much a relationship benefits from sharing it with
someone who’s got a frickin’ life.
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Happy Independence Day!
**Reprinted from Laura K. Warrell's blog Tart&Soul at www.TartandSoul.com.