A Big Life: Encouragement for People in the Arts –
As I gazed into the face of my true love, my heart began to pound.
It was a crucial moment, yet neither of us spoke. I glanced down at my chaste glass of cola-and-grenadine and turned longingly toward the bar. A fire warmed the faces of late evening happy-hourers who flirted with Andrew, the handsome young bartender. They sipped drinks with alluring names like Smoke on the Beach or Brandy Sea Foam. Dare I indulge? No, I thought. I must be strong. I must let whatever emotion was there to come and not numb myself even if I was afraid.
As I turned back to face my lover, the anxiety once again overwhelmed me. I took a deep breath and made myself take in all the rich beauty of this being in front of me to whom I had revealed so much. It had been healing in so many ways to be in this relationship. So much shame had left me and so much doubt. The process had helped me get to know myself better and to know that I was indeed loved. It had opened me up and brought more people into my life and it had made me a better person. To spend so much time with my beloved had been nothing but joy and bliss.
Yet somehow it had become twisted.
Sometimes I wondered if it was all the counseling which we had received which was the problem. People had given us high praise but they also had given us many suggestions for change. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I had put into practice many of these suggestions. Is this what had wrecked us? Had I picked this thing apart too much?
Maybe it was all this waiting around for the next step that was the trouble. They say if things don’t move to the next level of commitment after a couple of years, a relationship can start to eat itself into oblivion. Perhaps I had become too invested without any hope of a return.
Either way, I had to end it.
As my tears began to fall, my lover offered me no comfort so I turned my attention outside. Torrential rain was gliding down the windows in sheets and in the distance the ocean was raging. I wondered, would I find another to love as much as I loved this one?
There was no way of knowing. I turned back to my sweetheart and reached out for one last caress. We said our goodbyes and I closed the door.
Once alone, I stared at the solitary empty glass before me. After a moment, I called over to Andrew, the cute bartender. He brought me a huge glass of Syrah and I lifted the glass to toast the end of my anxiety. Then I looked around the cafe. All around me there were people I hadn’t even noticed. A hopeful-looking older guy tottered over to me and asked me if I was married to that laptop in front of me. It wasn’t far from the truth so I cocked my head at his grizzled face and teasingly told him yes. He asked me to guess his age and became flustered when my guess turned out to be correct. He then sat down without any kind of invitation from me and began to tell me all about his life.
Then an even older fellow (I gauged him to be about seventy-two) made his way over to us announcing, “I’m here to rescue you.” He also proceeded to sit down uninvited and begin to talk to me about himself. Wrapped up in his history, I forgot about the first guy until he sidled off in resignation. When my septuagenarian finally realized he was not going to get my number, he ambled off as well.
At this point young Andrew returned and asked me, “Can I get you anything else?” I couldn’t help but laugh, “Yes, more men!” I told him I’d been in this café before many times without anyone hitting on me. He smiled and said, “Then you must not get out very much. You are a beautiful woman.”
I handed him back my check (with a very large tip) and watched him sway gracefully back to the bar. His compliment raised my hopes and made me feel a bit better. I glanced back down at my computer and thought that it wasn’t the laptop to which I had been married, it was the screenplay which lay inside. For this was the lover to whom I had just said goodbye. This script was the one I had decided was my greatest work, the beloved one I had worked on for so long, the one which had received so many compliments from colleagues and competitions. This was the one which would have brought me acclaim, the one which would have changed my world forever.
This was my one and only.
In that moment I realized that this was my problem.
When any relationship ends, it is painful. However, they say the people with the most success at love are the ones who don’t believe in one-and-onlys. They don’t believe in destiny or fate and they don’t believe in soulmates. Believing there is only one person for you means we never grow and it means there will never be another chance at love.
It is the epitome of being stuck.
As I pondered my closed laptop, I had to remind myself that this work of mine over which I had toiled was not my one and only. There had been a script before it and I had “cheated” on it with three scripts after it. They had all been produced and performed. If this script hadn’t been, maybe it just wasn’t the right time.
Or maybe it was never meant to be.
As I stared out of the window, I let go of my dream of fame and fortune which I had thought Liberty and Grace would bring me and thought, Now what? Maybe I’ll have more time to play the piano now. Maybe I’ll get back to a more rigorous exercise regime.
Instead, as I let go, a new idea hit me. It grew and flowered and the energy from it filled my body. It was huge in scope and story and I had never heard of anyone telling this tale at all, let alone anyone telling it this way. It was a good idea and as I saw it come to life behind my eyes I imagined it on the screen, the story of the century, an international sensation…
and I laughed.
This way I would never begin.
As the dangerous grandiosity washed through me, I watched it carefully until it dissipated. There would be time enough to open my laptop and begin the research tomorrow. After all, a real relationship doesn’t start in fantasy, but in attraction and then hard work. As I picked up my glass of wine, I relaxed back to watch the waves.
Everybody needs a little time between breakups.
Images include the Shiloh Inn in Seaside, Oregon and Ecola Point on the Oregon Coast. All photos by Katie Bennett