Sunday, May 17, 2009

On relationships

When I was a kindergartner at University Liggett School, I developed a crush on a blonde girl named Caroline, or maybe Carolyn. Ever since that fateful year, I've pretty much always had at least one active crush. I remember liking a girl named Elke in third grade in Germany; by middle school I was smitten with my classmates Rebecca and Diana, after which high school brought perhaps the most epic of all my crushes, which turned into unrequited love and lasted five whole years. I dated a few women during sophomore year of college and then fell in love midway through my junior year. We dated until December of 2001; the next month, I was on a plane to Seattle. From that point forward, until very recently, I've either been dating someone or wanting desperately to be dating someone. Crushing requires a lot of mental energy, as I noted in a Weekly column several years ago.

Right now, as I tackle a number of challenges at once -- Kibbutz stuff, working, preparing to start another writing workshop, getting the grad-school application process rolling, improving my financial skills, trying to make exercise a part of my life again, attempting to have a social life outside the Kibbutz, and a few other personal projects -- I just don't think I have room for a serious relationship. I've been mentioning this to people because it seems worth mentioning. When people are waist- or even neck-deep in work that's meaningful, even if not too much of it is paid, they're pretty much forced to take their minds off finding true love, and thus they become more likely recipients of its serendipitous blessings. They also seem more interesting to would-be significant others. It's a paradox -- the less you need or even desire a mate, the more likely it is that you're ready for one. I'd like to take the rest of 2009 off when it comes to looking for a girlfriend and resume the search next year.

If I think of finding love as a project, not unlike the other ones I'm working on, I'm likely to be more sensible and systematic about it -- and, ultimately, more successful. And if I put it at the end of my queue for this year, I can focus my energies on other things that will only make me more appealing when it's time to shift back to search mode. Now that spring has sprung and couples walk hand in hand through the parks, I can't pretend it's always easy not to pursue the next big relationship, but I can take some comfort in the knowledge that things will go better for me if I de-emphasize romance this year and start anew in 2010.

After all, it -- romance -- isn't going anywhere. It'll still be around next year. And right now, as I've also told friends, my relationship with the Kibbutz is my primary one. The way some people are, for a while, wedded to their work, I'm married to my desire to make our growing community strong and vital. It may not be paying work, but it's plenty rewarding, as any good relationship should be.

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