On Seeing

“There’s a world that was meant for us to see.” – Lord Huron, Ends of the Earth

I had a very full weekend. I went straight from work on Friday to my college town to watch a bluegrass band play. The band was a friend-of-a-friend situation, and it was at one of my favorite local breweries, and it was a lot of fun. As it turned out though, the friend-of-the-friend had a lot of other friends who I know in a nebulous kind of way, and all of those other friends are married and most have children. As someone who is very freshly un-coupled, and very much does not have children, this was sort of a lot to take in. Particularly at a brewery, because who brings their children to a brewery? Long story short, it was all okay, as I’m beginning to understand things typically are, and my non-childbearing friends and I went to have some dinner and make a lot of jokes about people who bring children to breweries.

The next morning I woke up and went to buy myself a bike, which was a critical component of my new plan to be happier. And then I met some friends at a festival, and sat on a hill and had a beer, and saw an impromptu brass band playing beneath a really huge tree, and went to a crawfish boil. The crawfish boil ended up being sort of similar to the night before, with the excessive coupledom. (Fewer children, though, so that was a plus.) Not being overly enthusiastic about spending my night with twenty-four happy couples, I called it an early night to come home and watch a movie.

I talked the other day about spending time alone, and being okay with it. I decided today that I was going to put my money where my mouth is, as they say. I committed to spending the entire day by myself. So I walked to breakfast, and read slash people watched at a coffee shop, and got my nails done, and antiqued, and watched some of the Masters, and went for a bike ride. And an amazing thing happened – I had the best time.

An interesting thing has been happening to me for the last few weeks. I’ll read something, or hear something, or see something, and it will strike me. A million things a day strike me, but some strike more fiercely than others. Some of these fiercer things will wiggle their way into my brain and will surface again days or weeks later with renewed intensity. I was flying a few weeks ago, and read something that struck me, but I had a lot on my mind and it didn’t fully resonate.

I was reading “One More Thing” by B.J. Novak, which is a collection of short stories that is absolutely hysterical, and something you should read immediately. Anyway, I’m on a plane, and I’m reading one of the stories that happens to be about a sex robot. This is probably a good time to stop and note a couple things: 1. If I am at a stage in my life where I am gaining insight from a short story about sex robots, we can all safely consider this a low point. 2. We can also concede that if God, or the Universe, or whatever you choose to believe in, wants you to understand and accept something that you seem unwilling or unable to accept, He / It will do ANYTHING NECESSARY to instill this wisdom in you, up to and including using STORIES ABOUT SEX ROBOTS to impart said wisdom.

So, back to the sex robot. There’s this part of the story where the character is talking about a recurring “romantic fantasy” he has, where he suddenly notices that there’s a head on his shoulder, and it belongs to someone he loves, and he isn’t sure how long it’s been there. Here is what he says about it:

“I suddenly feel this surge of something like the combination of safety and elation knowing that every sight I see, no matter how small, is now important, because it’s shared. I don’t need to look at the head on my shoulder, and I never do, because what’s so important to me is not what the person looks like, but that we are seeing the same thing.”

This passage burrowed its way into my overactive little brain, and settled in there for a bit, and then popped back up today while I was sitting at the coffee shop people watching. I have always loved people watching. Adored it, even. I like to think about people’s lives, and craft stories for them, and create happy endings for them. My husband did not understand this. We’d travel, and we’d be sitting somewhere, maybe a cafe, and I’d make comments on people who were walking by, and while I think he tried to understand, he never could.

We weren’t seeing the same thing. We never could be. Our brains simply did not work in similar fashions. He and I could *look* at the same thing, over and over, every single day for the rest of our lives, and we would never *see* the same thing. I saw stories everywhere. He saw exactly what was in front of him. It was literal versus lyrical, and it always would be. I fought it for a long time, and then I stopped fighting it and just accepted it. After I accepted it, all of the stuff I have written about before started happening – the malaise and general unhappiness.

Today, when I decided to spend the day alone, and to enjoy it, I didn’t have to worry about seeing the same thing as anyone else. I got to see what I wanted to, and do what I wanted to, and I loved it.

One day, who knows when, I’ll find someone who enjoys doing the same things I do, and he’ll do some things I want to do, and I’ll do some things he wants to do, and we’ll both make some compromises, because that’s what you do when you find someone who’s worth it. Here’s what I won’t compromise on though: I won’t make the mistake of choosing someone who is fundamentally incapable of seeing the same things as me.

 

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