Friday, May 18, 2007

Art Imitating Life? Or Life Imitating Art?

Grey's Anatomy is really the greatest show. I know it's unrealistic. I know they've all slept with all the other castmates. I know it has its flaws. But I really do love it. As I've said before, it makes me feel. But it also makes me think.

Last night, as I sat with my girls watching the season finale, I struggled against what I knew was happening - Christina and Burke were not getting married and Meredith and Derek were breaking up...again. I identify with Meredith a lot. In a lot of ways, I identify with Izzie - she's so principled, compassionate and idealistic. I get that. But Meredith's murkiness and neuroses I really identify with most. I know she's fictional, I know they all are, but art does imitate life so humor me, please.

I wonder sometimes if I'm too murky to have that happily-ever-after. I've learned a lot in the past couple of years about what I want and need from a partner - more than in the whole of the rest of my life, I think. But I still worry that when the moment arises, I will fail or won't be up for the challenge. I have such issues with intimacy. Do people like me get happy endings?

So last night, as Meredith was telling Christina that she had to get married because Meredith needed to know that there were happy endings for people like them, I was telling the TV the same thing. Yes, I am way too emotionally invested in a fictional TV show. Of that, I am clear. But that is the purpose of art (you're dang right I'm calling Grey's Anatomy art). Art is supposed to teach us about life and about ourselves.

A couple years ago, I changed the way I talked about marriage. Instead of saying, "When I get married," I started saying, "If I get married." Sometimes people try to correct me, thinking I need encouragement and say, "Oh, you'll get married." But honestly, that's not fact. There's no guarantee.

Changing the way you think about marriage is okay. I don't want to think that it will definitely happen for me because if I did, I would spend a lot more time thinking about why it hasn't yet and when it will, etc. etc. ad nauseam. It's good, I think, to prepare myself for always being on my own because that may very well be the case and if it doesn't happen, the alternative will be a nice surprise. But I won't waste time putting anything off until...

I've been the happiest single-me ever lately. I love my life right now. My friends are the only relationship I need, and they satisfy all my emotional needs. I am very content, in fact, surprisingly so. But that doesn't mean that I don't want more. We always want more, don't we?

I think it's okay, if you're content with yourself and your life, to always be single. I think I'd rather be that way than always in and out of love. Breakups get harder as you get older, and I can't imagine how brutal they'd be in 10 or 20 years from now. No, I think I'd rather just find my way to contentedness with myself and my single life than struggling against that 'Will it happen for me?' question all the time. What a dull way to live life. Always stuck in the past or the future, never for a moment enjoying the present.

A guy friend of mine said something that got under my skin recently. He made some crack about how women spend more time thinking about getting married than men. Then he added something that made me think he was saying that men don't think about getting married at all, but women think about it often. That really bugged me. I have a lot of guy friends, and I've had very candid conversations with many of them about marriage. They all want it. They all think about it. And isn't it human nature to long for companionship? Really, all I want, all anyone wants I'd argue, is to be happy.

But, for now at least, that desire for companionship is still part of what I think total happiness would include for me. And I refuse to believe that there's something wrong with me for wanting to one day, some day, have a lasting and successful partnership. I also refuse to believe that men don't want that and don't spend time thinking about it. I certainly don't want to marry a man like that nor do I want any of my friends to.

And finally, I refuse to believe that because the fictional characters I adore so much can't get their shit together and find their happy ending (single or otherwise) doesn't mean that I won't be able to myself. Even if one day, my idea of what happiness involves changes.

After all, it's just TV.


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