Every year, my friend Liz used to write reflections about Valentine’s Day. Sometimes she was single, sometimes she was taken. This year, for the first time, she’s engaged for the holiday, and this time next year she’ll be married. She was in town for the week of V-Day, and for the first time since she’d had a ring put on it, we sat next to each other on a couch. Once lemon tart and tea was served (despite being in a hotel room, Liz is able to be the hostess with the mostess, and it’s one of her absolutely incredible talents) she looked at me and said, “You don’t feel like there’s some weird wall between us now, do you?”
Before, when we were roommates in college (for me)/grad school (for her), we were the perpetually single gals. We’d date someone, it wound to an end, we’d repeat. One of us was always taken, one of us was always not. The balance meant there was always a guy around to do odd jobs for us, like open jars or bake us cookies while we studied, but there was never too much “dude” in our lives, and when one of us was going through the ringer with a boyfriend the other one of us was stable in heart and mind. As we got older, we watched other friends pair off, and our own relationships lengthened from months into years. They still ended, but not as often, and I think there was anxiety on both our ends that once one of us was off the market for good our relationship might be compromised. What if one of us became smug? What if one of us became resentful?
Of course as is the case with very good friends, even when everything has changed, absolutely nothing has changed between us. Sure, we’re at wildly different places than we were when we met 12 years ago, and lived together 11 years ago. In some ways, we’re almost different people entirely. But despite that which makes us new – our evolution into humanity as it were – we’re still friends.
I can’t help but want to relate this to dating. There is so much rhetoric out there that tells us love is fleeting, it’s hard to sustain, that our hormones go wild then back off, that after the first few years we are going to struggle to be in love. Basically, we’re being told that it can be nearly impossible to have a committed relationship forever. And I want to call shenanigans.
If we can have lifelong friends who we love unconditionally, who occasionally make us crazy (trust me, it could not have been easy living with me when I was 19 and she was 22) but whom make us more happy than bananas, who are good people and who we would drop anything for if they called our name, why can we not have this with a partner? To suggest otherwise doesn’t give us as humans much credit for what we are capable of or how mature we can become.
Liz hasn’t shown me any V-Day reflections in a few years (not since she met her now-fiance), and without her inspiration I haven’t written many of my own. It isn’t that we don’t have things to say about love, a hallmark of a holiday by which we used to keep time – it’s that we mark the passing of our lives and subsequently, our friendship, differently than we used to. And that’s neither good nor bad. It just is.