The Dangling Conversation
There are these lyrics which, I feel at times, mock me, words which I cannot turn from, because the story is potent and believable. By Simon and Garfunkle, the song speaks of a life half-lived, of compromise and missed opportunities. It is a song about mourning.
I speak of this, because I fear it. I fear living a life of loss, because I cannot find what I am looking for. You and I, we can have it all, and have very little. We can have what-is-the-meaning-of-life conversations and entirely miss the point of our existence. We can have dependability and loyalty and have no passion. We can share similar interests and never understand what makes us happy. Or we can have happiness and yet find no fulfillment.
I can sum up this life in one word: superficial.
And you can say in reply that there is not much more to life than that described in the song. I should be grateful for small mercies and small comforts. Yes, you have your religion, you have your beliefs. Hell, he doesn’t hit you, even if you haven’t had sex in twenty years. But that’s okay, because he never cheats, or at least hides it well, and he only watches porn on weekends.
You can’t remember a time when it was different. But that’s because it never was. Whatever you have missed was cloaked in the smell of mass-produced roses and mothers’ day breakfasts, of church incense and Christmas pudding, the softener in your washing and the smell of his newly washed hair.
I know what you’re thinking, about my cynicism. I can and will defend myself. You see, I can understand the joy in your effortless conformity. I see the dependability of your 9 to 5 and the comfort of your afternoons together by the fire. There is something to a man who does not drink too much, who remembers anniversaries and opens the door for you. There is something about a smile, even if it is based on a lifetime of goodwill and not on the immediate moment.
There is no shame is settling down (or in settling). There is nothing wrong with decades of the same conversations, the same reflections in one another’s faces, of finding meaning in the Cosmopolitan, My Baby and Fairlady. Don’t be ashamed of forgetting those dreams of youth; they were from a different time and would have been altered 50 times since then. I admire your doggedness and your resolute, empty smile. I admire that you were able to walk on egg shells for all of your life. I guess it was convenient that you could lean on your white-picket-fence-and-2.4-kids.
The truth is, I mock you because I fear you, because I am not so different to you and can become you. I do not fear marriage or a lifetime with someone else. I fear that all that I have resolved to be, and all that I have resolved to avoid, will be a weakened resolve as each year passes. That I will grow tired and weak and finally compromise in the name of a half-hearted attempt at life.
I don’t want the grey meat-and-3-veg meal that was my grandparent’s marriage, or the let’s-make-the-most-of-our-accident relationship of so many people I know. I don’t want a relationship based on the no-turning-back mentality, on the level of comfort reached or the number of years passed. I don’t want to wake up 50 years from now and realise that there is a stranger in my bed and that he’s been there since the day we married.
Whoever you are, I want to be your hot chocolate at 3am, the hand you hold as we bungy jump through life, the depth and breadth of your experience, the only one that truly knows you. I want to feel your pain as you feel mine, I want to laugh with you at life’s atrocities and disappointments and know that I will always be safe with you. I want more than just the shallow, superficial and breakable. I want you to understand me, know me, change with me, love me more as I get older and give this all you have. I want to know that there is no one better, more suited or more perfect than the one who I wake up with every morning.
Thank you to S&G and the song, “The Dangling Conversation”