For someone currently learning how to navigate through the harrowing halls of a relationship and the heartbreak, I am amazed at the skill of which this secret world has been kept hidden from me.
Like Santa Claus.
Or the effects of smoking in the age of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
I can imagine that when children learn the truth about the big man in the chimney, some of them must think, ‘Nicely played. I would have never guessed.’ While others might smugly retort, ‘I knew all along. A fat guy coming down a chimney… Riiiight.’
It’s true that children are becoming increasingly too smart for their own good. To the point of annoying. It’s only a matter of time until a car cuts me off on the road and, as I turn to gaze at the wrongdoer, there will sit a nine year old with a box of chocolate milk, arguing about the political ills of Washington.
There’s plenty of other worldly goings-on that are veiled today. Many youngsters grow up oblivious to the struggles that life will soon bring them: The anxiety of supporting themselves. The stresses of marriage. The turbulances of child rearing. The agony of burying a parent.
And though life can be so utterly disappointing at times most humans insist on pushing forward. Those are the people to watch. The ones who accept their childhoods, their heritage, their mistakes, and events that are just simply out of their control.
But love–that is something that is, for a fact, in our control. People say we can’t decide who we fall in love with. But I disagree.
It’s true, we may feel a draw to the guy at work who shares our interests and has a good sense of humor. But add to those qualities the fact that he is married with a kid on the way and any feelings of love (hopefully) drift away into impossibility.
As free moral agents, we are able to act on our feelings or push them away if they are unreasonable or unrealistic.
Or perhaps circumstances cause feelings to arise.
We have all heard the stories of arranged marriages where the couple grew to love one another. They saw each others’ good qualities and, add to that the closeness of everyday life, in time, they came to love one another.
Still others allow themselves to fall in love within reason, keeping their heads intact to recognize inevitable pitfalls of the relationship.
And some fall in too deep too quickly to recognize their error or to anticipate the future path of the relationship.
But whether the relationship crumbles after five years, five weeks or five days, or lives on until death, the heart isn’t quick to let go.
And this is the light I have finally seen.
I now understand the endless songs about lost loves and heart-wrenching anguish over untold feelings. And that more people deal with these problems than I realize.
I have spent more days in this past month walking around in an ambivalent, teary-eyed haze due to an ended relationship than I have in the past year.
Break ups may not get any easier each time but the experience of getting through each one adds a lifetime of wisdom.
Or so they say.

I’ve always been puzzled at my random, very selective ability of observation. My mother places a beautiful African Violet by our front door and a year later, I comment on its sudden appearance.
Some people can recite what an individual was wearing two weeks ago at the grocery store, down to her fingernail polish. I’m lucky if I remember what color hair she had.
But put me in the driver’s seat on the highway and you’ll be lucky if you can get your quiet cough in the backseat past me.
My eyes and ears somehow seem to go on high alert when I have a gas pedal underneath me. Or maybe it has more to do with the idea of going somewhere.
So that’s why it’s all the more puzzling when I watch people speed up to the tail of a slow-moving truck, next to a long line of fast-moving cars and then toss on their blinker. As if to say Alright, I did my part. Now it’s your turn, fast lane cars. Like getting out from behind the slow truck that they chose to get behind is their inalienable right.
It’s like I’m suddenly back in seventh grade, and I have to help the foreign girl understand the teacher’s slide presentation.
How is this my problem?
Didn’t you foresee this issue? How is it that I am obligated to provide the solution?
And why is it that I am labeled the bad guy when I refuse the bait?
Like I don’t see what’s really going on here.
You took the easy way out. You sped past the long line of traffic and expected a good samaritan. Well, buddy, you may realize that you will always find a good samaritan.
It just may not be me this time.

I never know what to do when a person is staring at me, so obviously waiting for me to leave, whether it’s my vacating the register as soon as I receive my change or turning over to her the restroom sink in a punctual manner.
I try to be quick. Considerate. But my desire to consider others, and to avoid eye contact, is continually conflicted with my mental urgings to slow down and let them wait.
People are rarely concerned with the time they take to put away their change at the checkout counter, I repeat to myself, becoming increasingly hostile. My fists balling up as I grasp for my purse.
I have spent countless minutes awkwardly staring and then looking away, staring, looking away, at the girl occupying the only mirror in the bathroom. While she is more than content to blot and dab her lipstick as I fidget with fire in my eyes.
Maybe my awareness of myself and others is just more heightened than other people’s, I say to myself.
I feel the eyes boring into my neck. I imagine the long line forming behind me as I move faster and faster, hurtling change into my wallet.
Or maybe it’s not concern for others at all. Quite possibly it’s my fear of being looked at.
This desire to go unnoticed spans all the way back to birth. I swear I came out of my mother’s stomach with a trenchcoat over my head and squinty eyes, quiet as a mouse, praying no one notices me.
I have never wanted attention. I despise it. I always pushed it away like most children push away books and vegetables.
If I were crying and someone noticed me, my mom would push me into her leg as I only sobbed harder. The only thing worse than crying is having some adult in your face asking if you’re okay. I was 15.
This quality continues to haunt me today.
Instead of going to parties, I read. Instead of making human friends, I walk dogs. Instead of speaking, I write.
A couple of years ago I learned sign language in preparation of the day I would give up talking all together. But once I realized that signing was basically acting, I tossed it away in contempt.
I’m currently planning to take up braille.