Monday, May 07, 2007

Grand Gestures

In the years that we were separated, B and I didn't do much in terms of working on reconciliation. That is one hell of an understatement. We were pretty much equally to blame, even though I am not sure I realized it at the time. Back then, I was waiting for the Big Moment. The moment of clarity and realization that THIS WAS US that was on the line and we always managed to save US from disaster. The moment when B would make his GRAND GESTURE and show me that I was and would always be the most important thing in his life and that nothing could ever break us up.

I waited for the grand gesture for over two years. It never came.

Looking back, I don't know what, exactly, I was waiting for or what gesture I had in mind. I sometimes wonder if I watched one too many bad 80's romantic comedies. However, I didn't want the guy to pull up in a Porsche and bake me a birthday cake. I didn't fantasize about giving a guy my diamond earring and having him wear it unironically. I didn't dream about a heartfelt kiss in a parking lot after he finally realized that he screwed up and I had moved on.

Nevertheless, I was waiting for that grand gesture that I would always remember as proof positive that he loved me, would do anything to keep me, and that no matter how far apart we had grown, we would find our way back to each other. I really believed in that, even as I completely backed away from him during our separation. I think I wanted the grand gesture no matter what, even if I realized that I didn't want to stay with him. I just needed the grand gesture. I needed it as validation of the wifetime I had spent with him. I needed it to prove to myself that all of those years together meant something and that even if we didn't ride off into the sunset, I could still know that he loved me beyond reason and was willing to do anything to show it.

Again, said gesture never came. What's worse is that in the two years we were separated, I myself made a few grand gestures. The one that comes to mind the most vividly was leaving a trial (I was third chair, so not the most vital) in the middle of the proceedings because I got a scary text message from B that indicated he might do something stupid (like commit career suicide). Even though this was a full two years after we separated, even though we had made no meaningful strides to reconcile and even though I was pretty sure it was time to file for divorce, still, the idea that he was hurting and pained and scared? I couldn't bear him going through it alone and I flew to be by his side. He was, of course, stunned and grateful and eventually, I talked him down off that ledge. Tellingly, the experience was very difficult on me as well and as soon as he had his sea legs back, he promptly disappeared again and I was left picking up the pieces by myself.

(This all makes me sound like a saint. I wasn't by any stretch of the imagination. This is just an entry about grand gestures.)

Habits die hard. B had abdominal surgery earlier this year and listed me as his emergency contact and next of kin. He instructed the surgeon to discuss everything and anything with me and all that, even though he had moved on and in with someone else. He was always a complete baby about all things medical and I learned that he had downplayed the whole thing and was going to wake up alone after his first major surgery. I drove to the hospital (Eastside! Bridges and tunnels!) to be there when he woke up. The idea of him waking up alone scared and confused and disoriented just unsettled me, even though I know just what kind of a man he is these days. I just thought I was honoring our long term relationship and that is what a good friend does, no matter the pain inflicted. Friendship is forever and all that.

I was thinking about this last night for reasons that make sense only to me. I know I didn't do any of those things out of some martyr complex. I really hope not, at least. I was genuinely concerned for B both times and didn't want him to feel alone. I wanted him to know that when push came to shove and the big things were on the line, I would support him, no matter what. But looking back, there was only one of us doing the grand gestures. There was never a point that B became concerned that I might be feeling alone and scared and all of that. Never. I don't think he did that at all during our marriage. Empathy was not his strong suit.

In any event, I think I realized last night that I am holding out for a man capable of grand gestures. Someone who can give as good as he can get. I can think of another few traits for the list, but at the moment, I am easy to please. Grand gestures require as much confidence as they involve risk, and that combination just sort of works for me. Confidence, risk, humility, even temperment, and a great sense of humor - all are required for a proper grand gesture. At its very essence is the willingness to make a complete ass out of yourself and not be destroyed if you actually do.

I've said it before in this here blog and I'll say it again. I think the making of mistakes is one of the most underrated parts of living, because it is only through making mistakes and trial and error that you finally get it right. I think I am going to win the relationship battle because I believe in grand gestures, whether properly executed or horribly miscalculated. And, as the great waxer May would say, people falling down is always funny. Always, no matter what.

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