No one really wants roses and candles and trips to Paris and a perfect man with a perfect sculpted face and body who loves you and tells him that he loves you always and will spend the rest of your life with you in rosy happiness.
Well, not me, at least. The problem with this picture is simply that it is too perfect, and unrealistic, and this, coming from an inveterate dreamer, is saying something. What I’m trying to say is people think they want the magical fairytale, but what they want more is a good story, and that means it’s got to have ups and downs and twists and curves. It’s got to have heroes who fail and villains who think they’re the heroes and villains with heroic qualities and bad guys popping up in the strangest places, such as inside yourself. That’s what makes stories interesting. That’s what makes life interesting.
We don’t want their dreams to come true. Not completely, not without some bad parts, some good. If they did, you would be deliriously happy for a few days, and then slowly settle into boredom and stagnancy, escaping off into better daydreams, ones with conflict and pain and annoyance, but greater joy.
And rather than think about what we want in a future relationship, maybe we should think about what we could supply for another human being who roams somewhere out there in the great, big world. Dreaming is in essence a very selfish activity, as it’s usually about pretty prospects that fulfill our needs and desires and wants. But what about what we can give? Perhaps each of us could take a go at mulling over that when we can’t sleep, rather than dreaming about the perfect man who will whisk us away to his chateau and owns five cats and library.
When I imagine relationships, a constellation of experiences glimmer out at me from the skies of my imagination. Here is one of them:
I can see two people, sitting together, side-by-side, on a train puffing in a swathe of smoke towards some grand, rural destination. The compartment is cozy and small and cramped, and there are lamps set in brass curving out from the walls, throwing golden halos. Reddish-brown gleams, and red leather seats glow. Every now and then, one of them points, face lighting up with sheer delight, at something they I have spotted in the passing scenery: a cow with a funny expression on its face, a curlicue of smoke swirling up from a far-off volcano, a single, lonely barn in an expanse of rolling green hills, an eagle scuffing across the sky; and the other looks at what they are pointing at and smiles at their delight and smiles at the beauty of the world. Upon nightfall, they will lean against each other and watch the stars, read a book to the beat of the rattling wheels on the tracks beneath.
What are the people offering in this relationship? An appreciation of the beauty of the world. Inner passion for life and nature. The value of silence and quiet companionship. Yes, it may seem rather staid and lifeless to some, but this scenario illustrates the core, true feeling of an relationship: safety and warmth. Not fireworks or blazing desire, but an indescribably sweet and warm cosiness that settles deep into the base of your soul, sturdy and safe.
You don’t need roses or trips to boutiques or declarations of love from rooftops that send pigeons flying up in white clouds. You don’t need someone with a God or Goddess-like body, who understands every line of the map of your soul. You don’t need drama and pain and conflict and tearful reunions. All of that is very silly, if you think about it, artificial even. It doesn’t ring true. It’s too loud. Real things are usually quiet and unspoken, and all the more lovelier for it.
All we need is someone who can sit or lie with, at the end of the day, and read a book or watch a movie with. Someone we can just be with, in silence, basking in that silence and the feeling of the other person next to us. That warmth, that anchor, that safety, where both parties give to the other, and no-one is perfect but both are pretty good. Good people, in the company of good people. Being with another human, and loving that human. Quietly glowing rather than flaming hearts in houses across the country, across the world, echoed by the shimmer of stars in the night sky above.
How good of a world that would be. Not perfect, but good.