I've been dating the same lady for more than three months now, which is a long time for me. It feels like we're getting to an inflection-point. There's a level of intimacy and trust now that's pretty awesome -- we've talked about/around most of what I'm discussing here -- and yet at the same time it's sort of clear to both of us we're not going to settle down with one another and get married.
I take the view that life is a long game and I try to keep my womanly connections -- because, hey, you never know. Tangled up in Blue is one of my favorite songs. Moreover, I know a good thing when I see it and I'm not looking to mess with what I've got, but I'm starting to chafe a bit in this relationship. Given that there are rumors (no doubt propogated by my enemies) that I have a "fear of committment," and that the original purpose of me starting to self-publish on these internets was to create a vehicle for honest introspection, I figure it's a worthy topic for blogging.
My understanding of love is as a sort of fever, a force of nature, something that sweeps over you and changes the way you see things. It is something I don't pretend to understand or control, and it's not something that happens very often. It is mysterious, and yet I also know that it is real. I long for this feeling, and not just with regards to women. I want, perhaps to an unreasonable degree, to be passionate about my life.
And yet a lasting relationship is not a fever. It is a series of choices. It is communication, and a shared understanding. It is intentional. It is to some extent planned. There's a tension here.
I envision my future self as a family man, a community member. I want to be a dad. I think it will be really hard for me if my friends start to have kids before I've settled down. I'm going to want them, badly.
When I start to think seriously about this, the implications are rather terrifying and enormous. Managing the twenty-year period of relative stability a family requires is a rather daunting task. I haven't had the same address for more than 18 months in the last eight years, and for most of 2005 I was literally an itinerant rambler, wandering the country. Lucas and I enjoy the pat answer of "thirty five to fifty five" as it pushes this off another eight years into the future, but that's a total dodge and everyone knows it.
Beyond the material concerns, there's an even more troubling and deep question: just who exactly do you think you're going to be spending these twenty years with? I haven't stuck by any woman for more than six or seven months -- hence these rumors about a fear of committment -- so the prospect of settling down is something of a quantum leap, behaviorally speaking.
I've spent the majority of my adult life a single man, and for the most part I've enjoyed it. I enjoy freedom, and not just sexually (although that's nice too). I enjoy being able to spend my time however I like, dictatorial control over my evening hours. I enjoy being unfettered by responsibility in lots of little ways. I am pretty independent by nature.
And now I'm in a relationship with a girl that I like, but I don't have that fever. It's going places, but not all the way. I care about her, but in practice that mostly means I worry about hurting her feelings at some unknown juncture down the road. We talk about this, and we understand one another pretty well, and this is why the relationship continues, but I don't know if I'm doing the right thing or not. I don't know that there is a right thing to do.
Everyone in my cohort is questioning why they live in New York City. Some have good jobs. Some are mainly anchored here by their social network. Some remain feverishly in love with this world capital of a city. Some are planning to leave. I generally count myself in-between the middle two camps. My work is completely portable, and from a strictly financial point of view I aught to be angling to reduce my cost of living and maximize my take-home profits. But I have friends here, and I'm still drawn to the pulse of New York, so this is where I live for now, but I also don't see it being where I spend the rest of my life.
I think another reasons I stay here is that I think of it as a probable place to meet the right woman. I am decidedly picky when I'm not man-slutting it up, and one of my big sticking points is ambition. Just about any woman you meet here is bound to be ambitious. I'm also, as I said, pretty independent, and most New York girls are similarly capable of making their own way in the face of adversity. These are qualities that are harder to find out there in the world I think. There are also a lot of beautiful people here, a point not to be discounted.
In the end, I have perhaps impossibly high expectations. But I'm not really willing (at this point) to settle when it comes to settling down. And so this cosmic ballet continues. Nothing conclusive yet.