And looked through Rob’s friends so I could add some to my
proof of popularity friends list, and a thought occurred to me: jealousy has never been a problem with us.
I thought about my other relationships – like the one that lasted seven years (on and off), and the very short but very poignant one that abruptly ended around the same time I met Rob – and it dawned on me that I’d always been quick to feel inferior to other women. Maybe it was because I grew up with a dad that always cheated on my mom, so I saw other women as competition. Maybe it was because, in my house, there was an unspoken rivalry between my mother and I for my father’s attention (which he provoked). Maybe it was because I was a victim of the “ugly duckling complex.” Maybe I just like feeling fiery. Whatever the reason, I vividly recall accusations flying through windows, out of doorways, into telephones; my screaming, his screaming (no matter who “he” was), our mutual suspicion and paranoia and general immaturity…
And I remember the suspected “other women”, all of them runway models in their own right, strutting down New York City streets like they belonged on Parisian catwalks, darkened eyes, full lips, and bodies that belonged to women named Naomi and Cindy and Christy and Elle and Stephanie and Linda and Claudia. This was my competition.
I killed time on Facebook, thinking about the future, realizing that if Rob really moved here in a few months and we managed to live together on the other side of the world, my entire life would be planned out. We’d get married, have more kids, become nurses while pursuing our dream careers, travel, buy real estate, be boring old people with exciting stories to tell from our younger years. And none of that jealousy would be there. All of that intensity, the need for white-hot arguments about insignificant others, the torturous pangs of envy that we could fling like arrows at each other, the haughty angst and hot make-up sex – none of it would be as it was before, with those other men.
Now we argue about the banal and the mundane: not just who did what and why, but also are we right for each other? Does the fact that we don’t see eye to eye about the most fundamental of issues mean that we’ll eventually get tired of having to settle for not understanding each other? Is our relationship worthy of the rest of our lives? Are any relationships worthy? What if we do this, follow our guts, seize the moment, promise to love, protect, cherish, respect, and obey each other, and then realize that it was all because of a momentary blip of confusion, or of inexact emotion, or of misplaced affection? We argue because I have doubts, because I have complaints, because I have desires that I fear will never be fulfilled because Rob is Rob and I am attaching myself to him, ball and chain.
But then again, something tells me I’ll always feel this way. No matter who I promise myself to. No matter how perfect he is for me, on paper, in real life, or where it counts. I’ll always have doubts. Because love has never been easy for me, and relationships have always been temporary. Because I don’t know how to be happy. Because I’m not sure about the important abstractions: love, trust, and loyalty. They are all colors bleeding into their opposites, too closely related to their antitheses to mean anything definitive or real.
At least I know I’ll never be jealous of any of Rob’s friends. He’s related to all the attractive ones.