Sunday, November 18, 2007

I need 200 pages of E.M Forster... stat

Synchronicity, when it happens, is a funny old thing. It gives you the impression, just for a moment, that Things Matter and that there is some order to what happens and some reason behind why they happen. All that is a cruddy illusion, of course and Julian Barnes had it right when he said books are where things happen and they tell you why and life is where things just happen. I know this and, yet, because I'm as much a victim of this kind of slushy thinking as anyone else, I've spent the morning thinking about love and relationships and all those things to which there are never any proper answers.

It all started with the not-so-big coincidence of having two conversations about the same thing.
Yesterday I was talking with a certain friend about the fear of having a long, long term relationship break down and being left with nothing to show for it. What is not terrifying about such a scenario? Relationships (between partners, I mean, not friends or family or what have you) are such messy and uncertain propositions that it's ridiculous how much importance we allow them to have in our lives. We want insurance that if we devote twenty years of our lives to someone we're not going to fall out of love with them or visa versa and, of course, we can't have it. The old Greek (I think) idea of men and women being two halves of the same people looking for each other is bunk. Love or marriage doesn't make two people into one any more than mixing coke and lemonade in one glass makes a delicious cocktail.
The second conversation came this morning when I was talking with another friend whose very long term relationship has just fallen apart in a very horrible way, leaving him quite miserable. This friend told me, quite bluntly, that I should simply never fall in love and certainly never get married. Look at it this way, he said, if you're a smoker you have a certain risk of dying of the habit. If you fall in love your chances of having it all end in tears with one of you craving oblivion is, statistically, much higher. But, while smokers are prevented from indulging in their habit in enclosed areas and reminded of the dangers they face ever time they pick up a packet of cigarettes, nobody worries about the health risks of falling in love - nobody is out there slapping warning stickers on foreheads bearing the warning 'Falling in Love Could End in Unbearable Heartbreak' and a grisly picture of a crying girl with red, puffy eyes.
Having two independent conversations within 24 hours about the likelihood of the boy-meets-girl scenario ending with one of you fucking up the other's life made me a little bit uneasy. I didn't know what to think. Was the world conspiring to tell me my future lay in a rambling Parisian house with twenty cats, rattling around in a nightdress that smells like cat piss? Was all this doom and gloomy supposed to help me appreciate what I have? Telling me to end it all now? Pointing out that there are worse things than dreading going to work? The world was telling me nothing, obviously, because there's nobody pulling the strings up there, in fact there aren't even any fucking strings.
But still, as I say, uneasiness settled in. I see other people's relationships turn to sludge - and there are plenty of them doing just that - and I wonder what the whole point of it is and why we haven't worked out a better system of making ourselves miserable. Then I listen to the inane chatter of the possibly insane man who occasionally sleeps on the street outside my apartment and I wonder what the alternative is.
Then I remember it's Sunday and too early for this shit, and also that I should probably be far too young to be this cynical. Give me twenty years and I'll say it all again. For now I shall say fuck it, take Barnes' advice and read a book when I want answers - has anybody seen my copy of Maurice?
NOTE: Apologies for the big chunks of text. Blogger hates me and has screwed me over on the paragraph breaks. Apparently the computer program is a big fat softie and disapproves of my cynicism... what a sap.


Anonymous said...

That's pretty much the whole unsure/unsettled thing, but, well, actually articulated.

Mike (G)

my name is kate said...

Ah poor Mike well I know just how you feel. I could have just posted 'fucked if you do and fucked if you don't' but where would the fun in that be?

The UK Guardian's brilliant columnist Charlie Brooker puts it a lot better than me...,,1858034,00.html

my name is kate said...
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