My best friend Peter and I took a trip down to San Diego on Saturday to visit our good friend Mike for his 27th birthday. We used to go out simply as a bunch of goodfellas looking to stuff our faces and pass the night playing poker. Things are much different now, now that he’s married. He has a lovely wife who plans get-togethers and bakes cakes for him. A lot can happen in a year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
The time it takes to get to SD is an open invitation for real talk, so Peter and I got a chance to talk about all things under the sun. If you knew Peter, you’d know that he doesn’t like to mince words. He’s never afraid to be real and tell it like it is, not caring what others might think about him. I like that about him; it’s really quite freeing.
Of course, as with most of our conversations, our talk steered into relationships. I told him how hard it’s been to find someone suitable for me because I’m either too picky or I’m looking for things like “sparks.” A part of me is still stuck in the immature, high-school way of thinking about relationships, while another part of me longs to discover love’s essence. It’s not a pleasant fence to straddle.
(His gaze shifted towards the coastline. For a split second, I took my eyes off the road, if just to steal a glance. The sunlight glimmered off the distant waves; I’ve seen few things that beat a bulbous sun mirrored by an ocean. What a moment. Two grown men, sharing in the beauty of nature…no homo. Um, this is probably why we’re both still single.)
Then he spoke. “Martin, you don’t want your love to be like a steamed pot. It might heat up fast, but it will also cool off quick. What you want is your love to be like rocks. They might take longer to heat up, but once they’re hot, it’s enough to burn powerfully for a long time.”
Somewhere in my growing up, I bought into the fairy tale crap, and I haven’t quite been able to shake it. Maybe Romeo and Juliet are the culprits. I just know that I’ve been fighting against the tendency to view relationships as commodities and women as objects. Sadly, for most of my life, it has been a losing battle.
Chemistry, initial attraction, and “sparks” aren’t bad things. But let’s face it: those things aren’t the bread and butter. Not for any relationship that will last, at least. Sparks aren’t going to be what keeps you two together when the baby’s crying and the bills are overdue. And the chemistry of any property, like you learned in science class, is always subject to change.
When we’re thinking straight, we know it too. Our better halves tell us that we need to look for substance. We need women of integrity, sensibility, and faithfulness.
“All that playing around and looking for sparks is for boys. It’s time to grow up and be a man.”