The Predicament of the Week from September 28, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I know you are frequently bombarded with long letters, so I hope you’ll have patience for another one.
Fifteen years ago, this young country boy, born in a small plantation village somewhere in Southeast Asia, was catapulted across the Pacific to Southern California for his university education. Imagine being thrust into a big city like Los Angeles armed with nothing more than a sense of wonder and determination. Needless to say, he survived adventure, and along the way he picked up vocabulary like “dude” and “awesome” as well as a degree from UCLA. He also fell for, BIG TIME, a beautiful blonde in his class. He was her mystical oriental boy, and she was his amazing green-eye beauty. They could communicate with each other through their eyes. They toured together. However they were both young and there was much to do in each of their lives. They couldn’t stay together anymore for the intensity will burn them both. They said their good byes. They said each one of them remains in a special place in their respective soul for eternity even if they didn’t see each other anymore.
Meanwhile, golden girl continued her life traveling, dating, and studying. The country boy, he just studied. Then came graduation, it was time for him to go home and he left his heart in Los Angeles. As the years went by, they wrote to each other, talked on the phone once or twice a year, wherever she was living, be it Tokyo or Paris. The boy at one time had to burn all her pictures because it hurt too much to look at them, and he still missed her terribly.
He dated and even lived with one woman at one time or another, but they weren’t even close. Seven years drifted by and one day, he called her house (those twice a year kind), and her mother casually mentioned golden girl has gotten married the previous week. He jumped on the plane the following week. Heading towards LA, he watched his thoughts of her carried by the monsoon wind, cruised across the backs of a blue whale couple singing in the Pacific Ocean, and he finally broke down and cried. Arrived back in the city of angels after all these years, it was as if time had made a decision for him to let IT go. He had dinner with her and her parents (minus newly-wed husband). He was like an adopted son in the eyes of her parents and they loved him. When dinner and coffee were over, he got up to say good bye. It hurt him to the core of every single cell in his body to say good bye to her parents but not being able to tell them he will never see them again. They were like parents that he had always wanted. Before he got into his car, he said to her “you are married now, I’m very happy for you, but it’s not right for me to see you again.” Her eyes were full of sadness, and they were saying “I love you, you idiot, why couldn’t you have come back to LA earlier?” And the ILYYI-WCYHCBTLAE look in her eyes tore him into pieces.
Flash forward to present day, I have just celebrated my thirty-sixth birthday with a bit of melancholy. I’m standing on the balcony. The wind is on my face and the wind chimes complain noisily. I stand here thinking about that country boy in my distant memory. The naïve boy had evolved to a moderately successful stockbroker, handsome, with a quirky sense of humor. Painted enough abstract art to have his own solo exhibition (cheaper than therapy). There is no shortage of interested females bidding for his time. He is not feeling sorry for himself being alone. He doesn’t feel he is missing out something earth-shattering in his life. In fact, he feels incredibly blessed to have loved a woman so much, even just once in his life. He doesn’t feel he is particularly entitled to love again like that, considering the trials and tribulations he reads in Breakup Girl’s column.
But (here comes the question it’s better late than never, right?) he feels lonely. Seeing the face of someone he loves lights up when she test-tastes a spoonful of risotto which he had been stirring non-stop for the last half hour with the intensity and concentration of a Zen Buddhist monk is something that he wants to have in his life again. If he doesn’t love this one as much as the golden girl, is that cheating? Is he not giving her enough love as he is capable of, although he is not sure he would love another woman the same way again?
I realize that one can love another on different levels and love comes in different shapes and forms like the wild flowers in a tropical forest. I also realize that one shouldn’t say you have to love another woman precisely the way you love the last one.
There are times I wonder if I’m going to die alone. I can deal with that. Not everyone has the temperament and stamina to maintain a long term relationship/marriage. There’s no rule in this world, the last time I checked, that says you have to have a person in you life to make you complete. It would be nice though, to have someone to come home to, someone to hold your hands with when you go for a walk in the park in your seventies.
So, what should I do? I have more than enough emotional maturity/financial ability/self esteem to maintain a long term relationship, but I’m afraid I may not be bringing enough to the table in the area of love and romance.You have been a source of inspiration and I hope you can enlighten me. Even though I do not necessarily expect an all-encompassing answer to this perplexing enterprise, I would be grateful to hear your thoughts.
Thank you for listening. Please accept my apology for any grammatical errors in advance since English is not my first language. Warmest regards.
– El Duderino
You are two things: (1) lonely, and (2) an artist. #2 is what sets you apart. Here’s what I mean: there are a lot of 36 year old guys standing alone on their balconies wondering, “Is that all there is?” You, with all due respect, are not that much different from them; you have, as far as I can tell, a case of common midlife loneliness. The difference for you is that, being an artist at heart — whether your medium is paint, or poetry, or arborio rice — you experience and describe this loneliness in a much more grand and lovely way.
It follows, of course, that you are fantastically wistful about your golden girl. All of us are nostalgic for our first loves; for you, she is no less than Beatrice. But you are also astute: love is, indeed, not measured in quantity or exact matches. And there is nothing like your first love. So: You will not love someone the way you loved GG. Even if you reunited with her, you would not love her the same way anymore. This does not mean you have to steel yourself and settle. It means that you have to soften and open yourself to experience love in a way you haven’t before. No matter whom you date, you will probably not be able to help comparing her to GG. Fine. But when you do, practice not listening. I actually think you do have tons to bring to the table, Dude. Stop stirring and serve it up.