Like a lot of people, I have a bucket list. I can’t remember when I first started adding things to it, but a lot of the items have been there for several years already. Some are sort of cliché (doesn’t everyone want to travel to Australia and Greece?), some are silly, and some make me embarrassed that they are still on there (how many times do I have to say that I need to re-learn Spanish?). But one thing that they almost all have in common is that they are things that I actually have the power, not to mention the willpower, money, and time, to do. That is, there might be various material or mental blocks stopping me from crossing those items off the list, but if I REALLY decided I wanted to do them, I physically could.
Image: Roland Tanglao via Flickr
The one exception is the first thing I put on the list, however many years ago: “Experience true love”. This is the one thing on the list that I always felt maybe didn’t belong there because while it is something I definitely wanted to do before dying, it is not something that I really have any control over. It’s not like I can just decide to be in love with someone and make them love me back in the same way.
What do I mean by ‘true love’? If you’re like me, you might be hearing lines from The Princess Bride in your head at this point. And in some ways, yes, I’m talking about fairy tale love – not ‘happily ever after’ love or ‘I can’t live without you’ love or ‘I think you’re perfect’ love, but ‘willing to stick it out and work through problems together’ love, ‘life is honestly better with you than without you’ love, ‘I see exactly who you are and while you’re not perfect, I like the whole package’ love. For me, given my history of “loving” men who didn’t love me back, it particularly means feeling loved, not just knowing it intellectually but believing it, emotionally.
Let me be clear: wanting to experience true love sometime in my life does not mean that I was unhappy with being single or that I was sitting around hoping to meet “Mr. Right”. On the contrary, I feel very strongly that the people with the best chance of experiencing true love are those who are most OK without it. But I also think that if I had died without ever truly being in love, I would regret missing out on that experience. I also think that I would probably always wonder whether being happily single could really be as satisfying as being truly in love (it should go without saying that I believe being happily single is WAY better than being in a just any old relationship).
So I am deeply grateful that I met J and that I can cross this one off my bucket list. Loving him, and being loved by him, has added a dimension of happiness to my life that is hard to put into words and that I really could not have imagined before I met him. Our relationship isn’t always roses and sunshine, and neither of us is perfect, but somehow, we are perfect for each other.
[Originally posted on my Quirkyeconomist blog]