Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Love and mundanity

So everything is back to its place where they should be. I needed to talk to someone, to cry to someone, make someone listen to what seemed to me to be a vast of loneliness. So I called Hai Anh, and told her everything that transpired, what I thought my role in the whole drama was and especially what role I thought I deserved to play. I cried a river, and told her that everyone's disappointment had congealed and become my hair, my eyes, my ears. But what can I do? What can a woman do in such a situation, when she is such a woman, and love is such love? Love so old it must have existed before she came, its cobwebs have entangled her (as it has helped her catch the dew each morning) and its love-dust have settled thickly on her nose, her mouth, her hair. Love so cunning and weasly it has quietly morphed into mundanity. What do to? My friend, my dear counsel, my reality check, wonders herself what she would do without her own? What would she do if, for example, if she leaves her him? What would she do without him? She wouldn't know what to do, she said. What would she do with her days? They would be so long. And who would she love if not him? There is nobody else here. No other man for her to love. Suppose there is another, then she would have a different problem to consider, but there is no other, and that's enough to be alright with her. She is a good woman, my friend. Me, I am not a good woman, so I wonder anyway, about the other, about opportunities lost and how much opportunity costs. But he is a generally good man. I remember one time, that time when Khuyen flew in from California to visit me and has since that visit accepted my silence as closure, Khuyen asked me if I had chosen him because of the kids. My answer was quick, no not really (when really I did), I had chosen him because it's not worth it otherwise (and this is also true). It's not worth it to fight and fight for your idea of what love is or should be (if you're lucky this construction might genuinely be yours, but most times it's not) and keep waiting and waiting for it to come, only all your efforts will probably be in vain because in the end, aren't they all the same?

Sometimes I wonder if I had rushed too quickly into him. Maybe ran headlong into him, which may be the cause of my migranes. But then, I remember, as Simone de Beauvoir writes in a letter to Nelson Algren, in her Transatlantic Love Affair:

"Dearest, you say first you were not aware of me. Neither was I aware of you, that is the strangest thing in our whole story. I knew I was fond of you when leaving Chicago the first time, but I did not know who you were. I came to Chicago, being very tired of intellectual arguments, of all the kind of abstract life I had in New York and wishing to feel a woman in a good man's heart. I had felt I was a woman for you, and I liked it since I liked you."

That's it. I chose because it was as simple as wanting to "feel a woman in a good man's heart." I was tired of wandering, of searching, of loosing and hurting. To Khiem, I was not enough. To the others, I was nothing, or they were nothing, sometimes this is interchangable. But to him, I was me. And I love him not like Simone loving her Nelson, not like "So greedy about life and yet so quiet, your eager greediness and your patience, and your way of not asking much of life and yet taking much because you are so human and alive that you find much in everything." No, he is not like that (I wonder if Nelson is really like that too, or maybe Simone was describing herself, or what she thinks is Nelson because that way of being is necessary in order for him to make her feel a woman?). It was perhaps more like "All is genuine in you, words and behaviours, love and hate, pleaure, pain; your whole life is genuine. And living with you I felt genuine myself; everything was all right because everything was true." Except he is genuine not because he consciously chooses to be so but rather because he just is. He does not willingly bare himself to the world, but he doesn't hide either. That is his genuineness. He just is, himself, and is silent about himself. One sees what one sees, and if one asks, he will tell, but if not, then he won't, and that's all. This draws me. This nonchalant way of being. This irregarding of what others see or don't see because he's just too busy living to pay heed. It's not that his life is anything exciting or full in any exciting terms. He doesn't read much, doesn't go out much, doesn't have the desire to know about the larger world much. He doesn't go cherry picking because it's just too expensive. Nor does he take road trips because road trips, especially with children and gasoline prices rising, are just not economical and practical. He has only one passion in life: his family, especially the children, and a keen interest in sports, with its statistics and rankings and draftings and scorings. Sports make sense to him. It assures him the order of things, it affords him a certain mastery over its codes, and this is enough to satisfy him. Yet, strangely, his life is full. Void of wanting. Without emptiness. He certainly doesn't feel empty. There may be a lot of things in life he would like to have, would like to be able to afford to do, but that doesn't mean he feels any kind of emptiness inside. In fact, he seems to always exude a certain confidence, sometimes even cockiness, that, to a person of constant doubt like me, is very alluring, sometimes intoxicating. Maybe that's it--faith in the certainty of the mundane. At least it can be certain.

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