I very distinctly remember Tom Cruise, just a boy standing in front of a girl, eyes full of tears, professing his love to a crop-cardiganed, fresh-faced Renee Zellweger.
In his desperate, vulnerable state, he looked her straight in the eye and he told her, with ultimate resolve, “You complete me.” I do believe that was the precise moment when the historically profound Uterus Malfunction of 1996 began, where women’s uteruses inexplicably began skipping a beat, along with their tiny hearts. I know that at 11-years-old, this very grand notion of love as putty filler to the cracks inside us was more beautiful than anything I could dream up on my own.
I believed, as old mate Jerry did, that I had somehow been born into this world as half of a whole, and that life was simply one of those team building exercises they make you do at large company retreats or university orientation weeks, where you’re given a special code word that no one else knows, and you have to walk around in a room full of strangers trying to find the person with the corresponding code using strategic (but never overt) methods of communication.
Romance, from the perspective of my Jerry Maguire loving, 11-year-old self, required me to try and fit all sorts of square pegs into the round hole inside me, until one of them miraculously revealed itself to actually have been round all along, despite its angular facade. Then I’d just slip it in the hole, and I would be filled (I’m starting to really love this analogy).
And yes, as a teenager and later a young woman, I was searching for that extra part; that thing that was missing from me that I could only know once I found it. Looking back, some of the sentiment I proposed to my ex-boyfriends was truly horrific, where we’d lay in bed and say things like “I don’t know what I’d do without you” and “you’re the wind beneath my wings” (well maybe not the second one but you catch my drift). Everything was lived on a precipice, on a prayer; everything was achingly the most.
When you’re Maguiring For Love, everything is pivotal, and urgent and necessary; you never stop to think that this person, this One, is the person you spend your forever with actually isn’t going to be there all the time. Life is life; sometimes you have to go away, or you die, or things happen that are out of your control. You have to know what to do without your completeness, and moreover, you need to be able to re-fill the gaps inside you by yourself, or everything falls apart.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and while the grandness of young love is, well, SO grand, and SO desperate and SO breathlessly unbearable you think you might die at any second from your heart bursting — I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s OK that that kind of love is confined to a certain point in your life, and that it’s just as special to be ready to find a different kind — perhaps a less gaudily passionate kind —of love.
And so it is that I’ve come to the conclusion that no one can complete you, and nor should anyone have to. Maybe we’re not meant to be complete, or maybe we already are. What do I know? Maybe completeness just stunts us from growing. Or if there is such a thing as completeness, then we should be able to use all sorts of different things to plug the holes inside us, and maybe we can learn to complete ourselves. What I’m saying is that for the first time, I want to fill in the Kat holes with Kat stuff, because when I think of someone else’s stuff in all my internal nooks and crannies, it starts to feel kind of invasive.
That’s not to say that I don’t want to love and be loved; just to say that it’s no longer a question of “You complete me.” What I need now, which is so different to what I needed ten, five, or even three years ago, is not filling, but a use for my fullness. I want someone that will push against the wall inside me where I’ve spent all my time repairing the spidery cracks spreading across the surface. And when the destructive veins behind to reemerge, I want someone who will stand beneath me, holding the ladder I’m climbing to reach the blemishes, handing me the tools I need to smooth out the puckering in the paint as I go.
I don’t want anyone to complete me anymore, regardless of whether I feel complete or not. All I want is to be a girl standing in front of a boy, eyes full of tears, professing my love, and with ultimate resolve say, “You extend me.”