Too Much Information?

16Dec09

I was in the car with my father the other evening, on the way to a father-daughter dinner and shopping excursion.  We were listening to a strange playlist made up of a random jumble of old-school country and classic rock, made specifically for the purpose of such father-daughter outings.  My father and I like to sing along while we’re in the car (he can sing, I cannot), and there’s a certain bit of nostalgia and comforting familiarity with those two genres.  I often get “back when I was playing music” stories from my dad (which are always entertaining, and seemingly endless in supply).  While we’re cruising down the road, city lights bright against the night sky, George Strait’s “Blue Clear Sky” came on.  As soon as he heard the first note, my father said, “This song always reminds me of your mother.”

This is the part where I feel my eyes welling up because it was just so fucking sweet.  Things do not often get this reaction from me.

For the unfamiliar, the song talks about how the narrator had given up on love, when he meets a woman who suddenly changes all of that, when he wasn’t looking for it, when he least expected it.

The song is particularly fitting for my parents.  By the time he met my mother, dad had been divorced three times.  All of them had cheated on him–two with his brother.  He was battered, tired, and had given up.  I can’t say I blame him.

My parents always tell the story of how they met together.  I have never, not once in my life, heard one of them tell it alone.

Mom will say, “Dana got me to go to a show with her, where your dad was playing.  She introduced us.  I thought he was stuck up.”  (She laughs when she says this.)

“I thought she was out of my league,” Dad will chime in, smiling.  “I wasn’t even going to bother trying.”

“Dana had to convince me to go back to see him play again.  I told her I didn’t like him, he acted like he was too good to talk to me.”

“During the band’s break, I asked her to dance.”

They usually end there.  Sometimes the wording varies slightly, but they always tell the same parts–not like it’s rehearsed, like that is the only way they can naturally tell it.  They always have the same look in their eyes.

It’s a story that, for me, never gets old.  It’s a story full of hope.  It’s a story that reminds me that all the romanticism brought on my overexposure to Jane Austen novels and Disney movies in my childhood is not necessarily a bad thing, not necessarily a hopeless dead end.

I need to be reminded of that.  I have never dated someone who has given me what I need out of a relationship.  None of them have fit with me, emotionally or intellectually.  They could not stand on their own–were not comfortable with the fact that I can and do.  They could not provide me with enough intellectual stimulation, and did not want me to get it elsewhere.  I dated them partially because it was convenient.  I broke up with them because I realized convenience wasn’t enough.  It was an awful cycle.  In the past, I felt bad about my dating track record.  But I realized I should not stay with someone who is not what I want.  I should not feel bad for realizing early on (though perhaps not early enough to prevent having a relationship at all) that someone is not compatible with me.

And I don’t anymore.

I started dating my most recent ex shortly after I made the vow to be myself, and to be comfortable and unashamed in that.  I was completely honest with him from the beginning about what I was looking for.  I told him that it was going to be a week-by-week relationship, that I wasn’t yet sure if I wanted to begin a serious relationship with him.  I thought this was best, considering my past relationships.  He said he was fine with that.  He wasn’t.

This ex is the one who made it finally hit home that I am not a bad person for ending relationships with guys who can’t be what I need.  He was quite possibly the worst guy I have ever dated.

Not at first, of course.  But the longer we dated, the more I began to see he wasn’t it for me–what he showed me at first was not actually who he was.  He had no concern for what I wanted out of a situation.  What he wanted was what should happen, end of story.  He didn’t care if I’d worked twelve hours that day, and had to work ten more the next.  He wanted me to stay out with him until 3am.  He didn’t care if I’d had a bad day and wanted to be alone.  He would try to guilt me into spending time with him (I’m ashamed of how much he succeeded in this).  He didn’t care that I thought it was too early to meet his family.  One day, after I’d told him I was in a really strange mood and didn’t want to go anywhere, he convinced (read: guilted) me into going out to sushi with him.  He took me to his parents house to have dinner with them instead.  After I had told him that I wasn’t going to meet them yet.  They were there to greet me when we pulled up.  I was trapped.  (I did not break up with him then and there, though I should have.)  He didn’t care that I don’t like public displays of affection–he would try to force them on me, I think just so he could prove ownership or some bullshit like that.  He just didn’t care.

I stayed with him far longer than I should have–far longer than I would have normally.  But I had been consistently, constantly teased, judged, and mocked because I do not linger in relationships if I don’t feel they’re right for me.  I thought something was wrong with me.

I can’t explain the way I felt when I broke free from that relationship.  I was relieved, and irritated at myself, and in complete disbelief at what I had let myself endure.

I don’t regret that relationship.  It made me absolutely certain that my confidence in myself is not misplaced.  It gave me the push I needed to stop giving a damn about what other people think I should be doing, or how other people think I should be acting.  They are not me.  They do not get to live my life.

If I hadn’t dated that particular guy, I probably would have gone on for quite some time thinking there was something wrong with me.

There is not.  I just know what I want.

But it becomes discouraging after a while.  I think that’s why it was so easy to doubt myself then.  Far easier if it’s my frame of mind that’s screwed up, instead of the problem being the fact that I have not been able to find someone who works well with me (or, hell, even someone who gets me).

So I need the reminder provided by the story of how my parents met.  I hadn’t heard that story in a long time.  Even better was the way my father said, gently, lovingly, “This song always reminds me of your mother.”

I’ve never been the type to go looking for love.  It isn’t in my make-up.  I’ve always thought, if I do fall in love that’s all well and good, and if I don’t, I know I will be perfectly happy by myself.  I don’t think this is really about that–not about the need to fall in love.  It’s about knowing that the possibility is out there, and knowing that it’s perfectly okay for me not to compromise myself in order to live up to what people expect of me.  It’s also about keeping that innocent, beautiful, dreaming part of me alive.  I don’t want to give that up.

When my parents married, my father was 31 years old, thrice divorced, disillusioned, wrapped up in the violent, drunken music-playing scene.  My mother was 18, a preacher’s daughter, naive and sheltered.  I don’t know what brought them together, what sparked between them 23 years ago.  I do know that the fact that it did, and the fact that they are still so obviously in love with one another now, is very important to me.  It keeps me hopeful that, one day, eventually, I will find someone who works with me–even if it’s only for a little while.  And somehow it keeps me true to my belief that, even if I don’t, even if no one is ever who I’m looking for, compromising and settling for less than what I want isn’t an option.  I will not compromise any more–even if people judge me for it, even if it would be more convenient for me to do so.

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