Rules of the Road

I-45 just south of Dallas is a flat straight piece of road that cuts across flat, straight and amazingly uninteresting terrain.

Call it the visual equivalent of Muzak.

Heap many moons ago, I subjected myself to this stretch of asphalt while on a brief road trip with my friend, Hector. Once we had exhausted all our small talk and chitchat about women and work, I turned my attention to the blur of landscape that streaked past my window. It wasn’t long before my mind began to wander.

I remembered a conversation I was having with a girl I used to work with. Sometimes, I’ll forget conversations outright. Sometimes, the memories of the content or people I have them with all blur together.

This one I remember.

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“I never should’ve gotten married.” Angela said as she knelt down to talk to me. Angela was a very pretty young lady with ringlets of red hair that flowed to the middle of her back and freckles that dust her fair skin from her shoulders all the way down to her… I probably haven’t mentioned before that one of my multitude of jobs was as a DJ in a topless club, have I? It’s not important to the story per se, but it does explain how I know the extent of her freckle coverage. Anyway, I hadn’t known her very long but, sometimes, you don’t have to know someone very long to recognize sadness in their voice. Or regret in their eyes.

Besides, mostly naked people usually tend to be just that – naked.

“I know I shouldn’t have,” she continued, “but I just can’t be alone. You know what I mean?” I didn’t answer immediately. Mainly because I was lost in my own thoughts of my own failed first marriage. I thought back to the day when I looked at myself in the mirror on my wedding day, wondering what the hell I was doing there. I spent years wondering until one day it hit me.

Y’see, regardless of what some scientists or the chronically unfaithful say, people are wired to be with a single someone. Sure science may see one thing but not long ago on the cosmic calendar, science also saw the universe revolving around the earth. Though I do think I have an ex-girlfriend who’s still totally convinced that it revolves around her…

It’s not that there’s a perfect someone out there for you. It’s that there are perfect someones out there. When we are young, chances are we’ll date people that we look back on and say to ourselves, “What was I thinking?” As we get older, the picture of what we’re really looking for becomes more and more clear. But, as we are waiting for that image to resolve itself, we seek out one of those rare few out of billions that are a fit for us, running sometimes through choices like blind children in a candy shop, driven to fill this hollow feeling inside us. A lot of times, we’ll try to shoehorn someone who doesn’t fit in there.

In doing so, we end up settling.

Settling (not to be confused with settling down) is by far one of the greatest sins we can commit against ourselves. For whatever reason, we think that we aren’t going to find anything better. It’s not perfect, we think, but it’ll do. Maybe, we’ve just grown tired of the chase. Or maybe, we will never find that someone who we are truly supposed to be with. Or that, somehow, the end of all relationships is the same, no matter who the other person is.

So, instead, we end up at a rest stop.
Or a motel.
Not at home.

And really home is where we want to be. Ironically enough, it was Miss “The-world-revolves-around-me” who taught me the most important thing in a relationship is not appearance, not sex, but compatibility. Because really, there are plenty of pretty people out there. There are plenty of great lays out there too. But there are only a few who we are compatible with. The trick is learning the will and the patience to be able to sift through those and wait until the right someone comes along.

Slow down.
Put down roots.
Do something.
Anything.
But whatever you do . . .
Don’t settle.

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Outside my window, fence posts went past with a constant zip-zip-zip and I wondered idly whether or not this would be a good day to buy a lotto ticket.

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