"Universe I need some sort of healthy relashinspaship.....please!!!!"
--drunken bar bathroom graffiti
I think there's been a misunderstanding between me and the universe.
It took me several minutes to stop laughing after I wrote that sentence, because when I read it out loud I realized that the possibility of an understanding between me and what is basically, as far as we know, infinity, is rather hilarious considering I reside in a ridiculously tiny percentage of said infinity. Also, I am a microscopic (scratch that--there are no words tiny enough) life form that is currently maxed out on its puny brain capacity. I mean "maxed out" in the sense that this limited capacity is divided between running a business, trying to balance a budget (fail), negotiating a social life (complicated), keeping a dog alive (win), REM sleep, and processing cat videos. Also, the universe is, according to string theorists, actually a multiverse; so any misunderstanding I had with the original universe is now plural. It's...overwhelming? Is there even a word for what it is?
However, in the interest of keeping things simple (which they aren't, really, but let's pretend) the misunderstanding is mostly on my side. Although to be fair, I've had a lot of momentum from self-helpy, magical-thinking concepts like "you can have whatever you want, you just have to ask the universe for it" or "you don't have what you want yet? well then maybe you aren't wanting it hard enough/haven't asked in the right way/don't actually know what you want." These concepts didn't just come from self-help books (I don't think I've ever actually read an entire book of this genre; perhaps I am not interested in helping myself, and boom, there's clue #1 to the aforementioned misunderstanding). No, I got most of it from organized religion. Replace "universe" with "God" and that's the crux of my indoctrination into prayer. Except if I didn't get what I was praying for, the eventual logic was that God was just saying No. "Nope, sorry kid, I have decided that you will not be getting that stuffed bunny/new bike/other random kid thing that you wanted really really really badly." Or, as I got older and my requests became deeper, more desperate, more painfully urgent; "I am sorry my dear--your friend whom you love like crazy, the one with cancer? I will be taking him now." And thus was I introduced to heartbreak, that most painful, most personal yet most common human experience.
I took this to mean, and still do, that just like everybody else who has ever lived on this planet, I can't always get what I want. The Stones didn't invent this concept but they did a great job of hammering it home. And that whole bit about getting what you need? You can't always get that either, which is an irritatingly pervasive truth about being a human. Here in the USA we hate that idea; we want our needs met and our wants met, thanks very much, and when those things don't happen we go muttering back to the self-help realm and buy ourselves a new book that will teach us how to get stuff from god/the universe. Which is maybe a bit backwards. Because haven't we been taught by some very wise, very loving individuals throughout history that it's giving that leads to fulfillment? That love, in fact, comes to us when we give it away? And didn't I learn, in my most painful life lessons, that the things I lost hurt worse the harder I held on?
Which brings me to confession time: I still ask the universe for things. In fact I got so bold, awhile back, as to ask it for love, the romantic kind, because I figured it was time to "settle down" (everybody else was doing it). And I got specific. I made a list--not like, but not exactly unlike, a grocery list--of things I thought that love between me and another human being, who happened to be male, might include. I tried to be as specific as possible because I'd heard that the universe likes to be asked for things in specific ways. It had stuff on it such as: understanding, compassion, humor, social/political harmony, co-travelers, shared love of art and music and the outdoors and animals and quantum physics and hopefully he gets that I was raised by wolves and am on occasion a horrible person. Oh and sex. There should be lots of that. That doesn't cover everything I had on there--it was several pages long--but those are some of the less boring items. (I also asked for "chemistry," which apparently is a common thing to ask for but now that I think about it is a pretty bad idea, since chemistry can backfire and melt your face off in a hot second; just ask any high school chem lab teacher.)
So back to not getting what you want and not even always getting what you need...guess what? The universe pulled a fast one on me, and I DID get all the things on my list. No joke, the guy showed up not long after I made that list, and he was pretty much the whole package. Same sense of humor, liberal, loved my dog, loved hiking, didn't mind me being horrible on occasion, and there was some sex. I mean he just pretty much checked off the stuff on the grocery list. And do you know what happened? Everything was awesome. For a little while. And then it wasn't.
I missed the space. Not space to myself, necessarily, because I had that. I missed the space to dream. To travel in my mind to the "what if" and the "maybe" and the "possibly." I didn't know myself well enough, back then, to realize that the deep, elemental, raised-by-wolves part of me needed freedom to stargaze and wonder and run wild. And this man was lovely. He loved me. He wanted to marry me. Which completely flipped my shit and made me want to hop into a spaceship and leave earth for a distant galaxy. I did not have any way of doing this, so I just went crazy for a bit, until I realized I didn't have to settle down. And over the intervening years, despite refining my lists and aiming for perfection, I have come to realize that what I'd really prefer is not the "perfect relationship" with a perfect-checklist man, but a "relationspaceship." I never had the word for it till I saw it scrawled in drunken handwriting on a bathroom wall, a Bacchanalian typo, really; but a light went on in my head: this! is what I want! It is a vehicle that can accommodate two individuals if need be; but it's a vehicle, not a building. It doesn't stay in one place, it doesn't "settle." It's bound for adventure. It might travel to the Horsehead Nebula; it might fly by Alpha Centauri on its way to a new galaxy. A relationspaceship has a captain and a crew, but they can switch at any moment. Both people make decisions, and both of them acquiesce, from day to day. If somebody crashes the relationspaceship, well, both people work on fixing it till it can fly again, because they're committed cosmonauts. It's no picnic. But exploration rarely is.
A relationspaceship is a hard, wondrous, awkward, dangerous thing. It can feel wobbly as hell. I tried it once, with the wrong person, and it nearly killed me; but also it gave me a taste of what it might be like to explore the cosmos of love, all its strange and lovely and weird and mundane bits and pieces, with the right person. Not only with the right person--but with me being the right person, for that right person. Captain and crew, fitting one another, finally. What would it be like to bump into that person? Wild guess here, but probably sort of like waking up in the middle of the night and finding John Cusack on my lawn with a boom box held aloft, blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" to wake the neighbors--and just knowing. There's my crew, there's my captain. This is it. I am going to board a relationspaceship with this person and we are going on the biggest. Fucking. Trip.
And so I have to ask. Universe, god, God, multiverse, whatever or whomever you are: I don't care if he shows up in the middle of the night with a boom box, I don't care if he plays Peter Gabriel or his own guitar. But I want the drums to beat so loudly in my chest that he can hear them when he looks into my eyes; I want the bangs and flashes to go off in both of our heads; I want Cape Canaveral to register a rocket launch and Houston to have a problem. I know I'm not supposed to ask for stuff without being willing to give in return, and believe me I am willing. I am loving the crap out of my life and dancing all over the shitty stuff that happens and being grateful as hell for all of the good, beautiful, incredible amazingness which is so much more than I ever imagined would be in my world. So thank you....for all of that.
But in case you didn't get that broadcast, universe...I would really love for you to send me a relationspaceship. Please.