Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wuv, Twoo Wuv

It is not virtue, wisdom, valour, wit,
Strength, comeliness of shape, or amplest merit
That woman’s love can win, or long inherit;
But what it is, hard is to say,
Harder to hit,
(Which way soever men refer it)

----J Milton, Samson Agonistes, l. 1010–1015

The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul…

----EB Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese, VII

But this, all pleasures fancies bee
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desir’d, and got, t’was but a dreame of thee.

----J Donne, “The Good-morrow,” l. 5-7

It was as if the gods themselves had first laughed, and then spat, in my face.
----CS Lewis, Till We Have Faces, I.21:21, p. 243

Once upon a time a young man tripped and fell into a puddle of hormones, pheromones, and neuroses. He liked it and called it love, but what it is and how it fits into the big picture I am not particularly sure. “Wuv, twoo wuv” has turned out to be in practice a confoundingly complicated and painful mess with chapters and chapters of dull, frustrated pain illuminated with ecstasy, punctuated with tragedy and terror (or at least their distant cousins). But there is a scent of happiness: the words (so far) are a tragicomic farce, but the paper and ink smell of joy.

I am hardly late for marriage except in Mormon culture where I am approaching old fogyism: “Every man not married and over twenty-five [or 18, or 27, depending on who you ask] is a menace to the community.” I'll be twenty-nine here shortly; the tragicomic romantic breakfast has of late leaned heavy on the pan and light on the cake—none of which is to say that I haven't had an enjoyable and productive ride, just that none of my relationships to date has survived the iconoclasm of life. Send in the clowns. Perhaps I should entitle this, “Wishful Dreaming, Bitter Disappointment, and Jaded Cynicism,” but it wouldn’t fit as well on the page.

It could perhaps be said that I am unlucky in love, but I think not: it has been my privilege to associate with wonderful women who blessed me when we were whatever we were and who continue to bless me through the growth I experienced with them. I think my wife and I will one day be grateful for these essential developmental experiences. Besides, I don’t think luck had anything to do with it.

It might also be said that my standards are unrealistic. Again, I don’t think so, and this because God gave me sisters—I know by my own experience that a woman can achieve in young-adulthood the beauty that “transcends all measure / of mortal minds.” What might more appropriately be said is that it is unrealistic for someone like me to expect such a woman. I only hope not.

Maybe I am blind like the step-family in Aschenputtel (Cinderella)—I dream of what I presume to be a “foreign princess” and never once think of Aschenputtel, right here, close by. I am blinded by the ashes. I think I see the Beauty in my mother, aunts, and grandmother, but I haven’t figured out how to rewind the years to know what to seek in someone my age. I also think I see it in my sisters and sister-in-law and cousins and cousins-in-law, but haven’t figured out how to see it without the magnifying glass of the existing family relationship with its security, intimacy, and comfort.

So there you have it. I AM SINGLE. HEAR ME WHINE! Happy relating or hunting to you, according to your current status.

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