Yeah its a cliché, but I feel everyone has some ideology-defining piece of advice given to them by a parent. I do, my friends do, most people I know do, and often times they don’t have a problem sharing theirs at the slightest hint of provocation(I know I don’t). It makes sense, what you’ve decided is the most important thing that one of your parents, the people who have theoretically made you who you are, have told you, is a pillar your character is built on. I think that’s why we see it used so often in movies and TV shows, the “My father once told me…” line is powerful because lifts the curtain off of both you and your story.
So I figured I’d share mine, and encourage anyone else to share theirs in the comments. Here it goes:
“Sometimes I still dream about my ex-wife.”
I know, I know, that part isn’t exactly advice. Let me explain.
I am good a great many things. I’m a decent fisherman, a fine enough artist, a passable poet, I work well with children! The list goes on. One thing however that I am not especially gifted at, is break-ups. I don’t handle sadness well, and it can quickly consume me if given the chance.
My dad told me this during the end of a romance that was hitting me… harder than I would have liked. I remember vividly being in our living room; standing near our big picture window, the lime green color the walls were painted bleeding in with the fresh spring foliage outside, and then he said it. Now, my dad doesn’t really talk about Deb all that often, and while I don’t know any of the details of their relationship I’ve gathered however it ended, it left a scar. Hearing about her had me rattled.
I blinked. I remember that much. I definitely, definitely, blinked. I didn’t have any other response on hand, which is weird for me. I like to have something ready to say, be it a legitimate answer, or a smarmy joke, but I had nothing. So, I sat quietly and let him finish his thought.
He went on to explain that, if you love someone, that never really goes away. It just stops being relevant. It stops mattering.
It felt like a bleak thing to say, particularly to someone who was going through heartbreak. My initial interpretation was “Don’t worry, what your feeling is only for forever“. I made note of what he said, and began the long process of trying to internalize it.
I got it, though. I really got it now. And I think I like it. I think I really like it. There’s a comfort in knowing that love has permanence in existence, if not its relevance, because it means I’m not so far gone. That when I smell her 10,000 miles away from where I know she is, it’s just a flower. That when two people taste the same its just coincidence. That when any of the “hers” from my past creep back into my memory, into my dreams, that’s just reflex.
I get that Love as a concept is pretty nebulous. It’s hard to pin down. So much of Love is that you aren’t really given a choice; you don’t get to choose who you love, when you love them, or the way they love you. But you get to chose how you love. You get to choose to let things go, to let them stop being important. Even if you keep dreaming.