March 6, 2010
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I have never liked to be tied down, preferring much more to flutter from place to place, person to person, hobby to hobby. At the same time, I adore the constants in my life: living in the same apartment for my entire life, going to the same school K-12, and the personal daily routines that I have become accustomed to. I’ve come to accept that life is full paradoxes and contradictions.
But being committed to something scares me sometimes… maybe I have attachment issues. Maybe I could blame everything on my parent’s divorce… but that has always seemed weak to me, an easy path out of dealing with one’s problems. Plus, how cliché is that?! Blaming one’s parents… give me a break. I’ve heard my mother talk about how she always thought she would have a lasting marriage. Coming from multiply divorced parents herself (her mother three times divorced, her father twice), she still hoped for the kind of relationship that has two people sitting in rocking chairs on the porch together late in life, reminiscing about years gone by. The kind of relationship in which you know everything about the other person: how to make their coffee, how much sugar they like in their tea, the fact that they like the blanket tag near their feet. My father also is the product of a broken family. How I detest that term. Who is anyone to determine whether or not a family is “broken”? I know that my parents loved each other with all that they had, that for at least 12 years, they meant everything to each other. Maybe the experience of having a love like that at least once is all that somebody can aspire towards. Looking through old papers in boxes in my room when I was 13, I found a Valentines Day card from my father to my mother. 2/14/1993, the month before I was born. The inside of the card was cheesy: “The fruit of our love is in the air”, but my father had crossed out the word “air” and instead, in his neat, all-caps print, had written “you”. With that one simple word the card had been transformed from a cheesy Hallmark slogan to a beautiful and transcendent flicker of hope and life. If throughout all the fights, disagreements, and shouting that I had come to associate with my parents as a couple I had ever doubted that I was born of true love, that fact could be denied no longer. I knew then, sitting on the floor in my room, that I was a product of love, and realized that life and love both are truly bittersweet. I cried that day like I had never cried before. I cried for my parents, for lost love, and for disappointed dreams.
They themselves, these two children of divorce, separated when I, their only child, was almost three years old. I don’t even remember them being together. I have no memory of my parents as one unit. I don’t even remember ever seeing them kiss. One of the first times I realized I didn’t want to end up like my parents was in my ninth grade biology class; while studying genetics, and inherited diseases. I raised my hand and asked my teacher, “Mr. Keenan, I know this might sound like a stupid question but… is divorce hereditary? Because I know that alcoholism is hereditary and not that I’m comparing the two or anything but…” I stopped talking when I realized that, as usual, I was merely digging a large hole for myself by rambling aimlessly with every word I spoke, so I looked my teacher expectantly, silently willing him to say no. “Well… no,” he replied, and relief flooded quickly into my heart; I could breathe again. “Not exactly… but there could be a gene for a trait such as recklessness and risk-taking that makes it difficult for an individual to maintain a lasting relationship.” All the blood must have drained from my face, all air leaving my lungs. Recklessness and risk-taking? That sure sounded like my family. My grandmother who still runs marathons and climbs mountains, my pilot grandfather, my paternal grandfather who still rides his motorcycle after experiencing a near-death accident which broke nearly every bone in his body and hospitalized him for a year. Was it actually genetically impossible for me or anybody else in my family to maintain a healthy, mature relationship? For the first time in my life, I looked upon my inherent fearlessness with, well, fear. Because sitting in that same biology class, about four feet away, was the first person with whom I’d ever felt completely and totally safe, while at the same time being scared out of my mind. The very same boy who told me that he “wanted to take on everything with me”, and wanted to “be with me until we die, really”. I know that those may sound like empty, meaningless lines but… they weren’t. They were as real and sweet, as genuine, pure, and fresh as cool raindrops that hit your face on a hot day. Or like the sun coming out after a week of rain. But no matter how many corny similes I can think of, those words had meaning.
On one hand, I could definitely see myself with him for life. But then I second-guess myself… I’m only fifteen. There are tons of people whom I haven’t met. I don’t want to miss out on anything, but at the same time I don’t want to give up something that makes me feel so good. Because it really does, and “good” is quite an understatement. Being with him makes me feel… invincible. I want to do everything with him, know him, hold him, be with him in every way possible, grow up and live with him. But I’m scared. What if, like for everyone else in my family, it doesn’t work out? I couldn’t deal with the pain of that. I know I couldn’t. It’s almost enough to make me not try… but then I think of the recklessness and risk-taking gene that might be the cause for the fragmentation of my family, and how that gene might be expressed in me. My risk is going to be giving myself up completely to someone else, but trusting him enough to take care of me, and not let me fall apart. That’s pretty reckless, in my opinion. I may not know everything about the world, but I do believe that love can last. My parents? They may not be the best example, and maybe I don’t know how to be in a relationship because of their dysfunction; maybe I wont know how to act as a wife because I have no example to follow. Maybe. But how would I know if I never try?
Evolution is supposed to be the process of improving upon each new generation. Maybe that gene for recklessness can be tweaked, influenced by environment. Maybe I’m putting too much importance on genetics… and not just letting myself live without fear. Isn’t that reckless? Living without fear? I guess I want to be reckless after all.

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