Walks beside me/Walks on by

The New York Times' Sunday Styles section has recently started a column called Modern Love, in which writers of various stripes share their tales of relationships gone awry. (There have been a few hopeful-esque entries so far, but the scales definitely seem to be tipping more in the other direction; it is, perhaps, a counterweight to the shouting streams of joy waiting a few pages back among the wedding announcements.)

If the columns so far are any indication, modern love is something of a big old mess--not always a hopeless mess, to be sure, but a sticky, muddled, uncertain mess just the same. From the sound of it, we all have the potential anytime soon to fall into some giant pool of heartache, heartbreak, infidelity, ambiguity, truth stretching, fear, loss, sadness, guilt, and confusion. Like we were always told as children, it seems best not to run on the deck of this pool; you don't want to slip and go unintentionally splashing in.

But while the columns share a view of love as anything but glamorous and rosy and un-fraught, they also allow at least a few hints of something better, of the possibility that somewhere in that pool the water gets calm and easier to float in, that sooner or later someone throws you a life vest or you manage to pull yourself over to the side so that even if you do start to go under, you won't be down there for good.

And I guess I have to believe that, because I've known the good parts of love, and because it seems unfathomable that that entire Olympic-size pool could be such a treacherous mess, and because I know I'm still a strong swimmer when I need to be, even if my techniques are rusty.

So although I'm flailing a bit now, shivering and tired and feeling my throat burn from all the water I've swallowed, I'm trying to keep my eyes focused on the lip of the pool. And at some point, I'll be able to make my way toward it, and then pull myself onto it, where I can dry off and warm up and wait for the waters to calm.

No comments: