Christina Lynch

One writer's struggle to make sense of the universe, or laugh trying.

Diary of a Rural Writer

Finding the Leopard

Posted by Christina Lynch on September 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM

I grew up watching romantic comedies, both the black and white classics--"Bringing Up Baby," "The Awful Truth"-- and the 80s and 90s versions like "When Harry Met Sally." In many of these movies, especially the newer ones, there is the group of supportive friends from which the lovers emerge to pair off and attempt a relationship, which usually fails, but then they overcome some mental block (or find the leopard) and rush across a crowded room to be together, having realized that romantic love is the ne plus ultra of human existence and they're going to be together until they die in each other's arms.

For a lucky few, that's true. And then there's the rest of us. We put a lot of energy and good faith into long term relationships, often more than we should, but they don't last until death. Are they failures? Are they necessary painful larval stages on the way to Some Great One True Love? Is life still worth living if you never get that Great Love? Hang on. I'll come back to that.

What if those "failed" relationships are actually successes? I'm beginning to think they might be proof that we can connect with others, that we can be vulnerable, that we can be generous, and that we can recognize when the relationship is not making either of us happy anymore, or making our lives better. Let's face it, some relationships have a shelf life, and it's better to get out and move on. There is, unfortunately, often a broken heart and a lot of anger in the middle of all this, and it's very sad when there is a child or two caught in the crossfire. In those cases, I think the parents owe it to the kids to exert a gargantuan effort to make it work. But as a child of divorce myself, I know I was immensely happier when my father and his second wife split and the screaming stopped.

Breaking up sends the ex-lovers back into the pool of suppportive friends from which they originally emerged. I think for many of us, that's the happy ending. On those forms when you are asked to check a box that says married/single/widowed/divorced, what if there were another box that said "part of a thriving community of friends"? After all, we spread the love in a lot of ways in our lives--to our and others' children, to extended family, to pets, to friends, even acoss barriers of time and space to writers and artists we will never meet. What if, in the end, that's the One True Love?

That is what I pondered as I shoveled horse manure this morning.

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