Romance really is what you make it, I suppose. I spent a lot of my life sipping from the romance Kool-aid, and I’ve gotten pretty shitty on it in my time. The stuff is genuinely intoxicating. The idea that we are all part of this universe that is ripe with meaning, and as humans, we are the keepers of a hidden code of purpose and belonging latent that is all masterfully placed like clockwork of our lives. We are romanced by the idea that there are people out there whose grooves are crafted to interlock perfectly with our own, and that you will ferry one another through the dark night of the soul onward to a bright morning.
The whole thing reeks of shit, doesn’t it? So in lieu of this fiction piece that I’ve been hyping up in my previous posts, let’s take a minute to shoot Santa Claus in the face and take his wallet, shall we?
That’s a little extreme perhaps, but what I’m getting at is the idea that there comes a day we grow up that we realize that stories like Santa Claus, or “One True Love”, or common human decency are proven to be just that: stories. In response, it is only natural to dispose of them and move on in an unhappy ‘real’ existence.
But come on. These can’t just be stories designed to haunt adolescents when they reach maturity and realize that their parents and teachers were just bullshitting them. Why do we keep telling these stories if only for the pain of realizing that they are fiction? Why do we keep peddling romance and magic if the only conclusion is to further jade adults in an already cruel world?
My mother, who is actually really good at this stuff, has a proposed answer. Her take is that we tell these stories so that, even if it’s just for a couple years, we can still live in a world where these fun and beautiful things are real. That even if it’s just when we’re kids, there gets to exist a jolly man in a red suit using magic to give kids around the world presents. Isn’t that beautiful enough? In a cold, uncaring world, at least we get a couple years of our life that it’s not? Then in turn, don’t we owe another generation that sense of joy and wonderment of something outside of ourselves, outside of the possible, where these amazing and beautiful things can happen?
As a child, even into my young-adulthood, I held onto magic for as long as I possibly could. I tried to believe in Santa going as far as middle school when I tried to use Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to explain how if someone went as fast as the speed of light, someone like Santa could travel the world at light speed and cover huge amounts of area in a time that we would deem as insubstantial. In that moment, I realized how crazy I sounded. Was I willing to admit that a gifted human who lived with elves on the North Pole used science beyond our understanding to master time and space, if only for the benefit of underpriveledged children around the world? That’s when I admitted to myself that it was more destructive to hold onto something like that than to just cut it with Occam’s Razor.
It’s painful to live in a world where Santa isn’t real, If we follow my mother’s theory is correct, and we only keep circulating these stories just to give children something beautiful, even if it only dissolves as an adult, we are left with a world that acknowledges its own corruption and emptiness. Our duty as adults then becomes to preserve the Disney World of youth, knowing full well that someday the mask will come off and birthday party Elmo is just a post grad looking for a couple extra bucks toward his student loan debt and we will cry until we morph into adults. Is that what adulthood is? The death of magic?
At the moment, I’m on a class trip with my Chinese school to Germany. If you’ve ever wanted a real thrill in life, forget about base jumping or climbing Everast: take a group of middle school Chinese students to a traditional Bavarian restaurant. I have to write a best selling novel because there is no way that it is more difficult than asking a group of semi-english speakers, “What do you want to drink?” then trying to explain to them what German food is and why it’s different than Chinese food. The confusion of trying to translate my piss poor Chinese to a waiter in lederhosen that only speaks French and German and back was probably one of the most interesting moments in my life thus far.
Taking what we learned there, we went to an Irish pub today and it went way smoother because they only got 3 choices and no one was allowed to talk to the waiter except for me. Where that leaves us now is that my co-teachers shared a .333 of the lightest beer the bar could provide and my students had their first non-McDonalds cheeseburger in their lives, so we cancelled all our evening plans because they’re all upstairs in carb comas and I’m having whiskeys at the hotel bar by myself and writing about the nature of romance.
Honestly though, this trip is really great. It however puts me in an extremely interesting position that has me thinking about this subject. A quick geography lesson because I know that’s the real reason you guys read this blog: China (all of China, because the whole country is on one f*cking time zone) is 12 hours ahead of America and Centeral Europe (i.e. Germany) is 6. Luckily, I sprung for a European SIM card on my phone that keeps accurate time, but Germany, in all its Northernness, at this time of year has daylight until 9 o’clock at night. This confusion is only worsened when you consider that I thought to combat jet lag and flight times by not sleeping my last night in China to make a 6 o’clock bus time. Time has lost all meaning to me.
What’s really interesting about this and what really brings us to this ‘romance’ rant that I’ve inflicted on you, is that at the moment, I find my heart in three places scattered precariously around the clock. I’m writing this at 9pm in Germany while it is 3am in China and 3pm in America. I am on vacation closer to home than I’ve been all year. My watch reads one time and depending how I look at it, it can represent the time in China or the time in America, but ultimately not where I am.
This life is a chaotic one. We all know that time is a construct. It’s a system of measurement and organization to monitor the rate of change in the universe and keep track of Earth’s rotation around the Sun. It’s helpful, but meaningless. My heart (obviously not my physical heart) is scattered across 3 different contents at 3 completely different moments of time. I have friends who I contacted today in China while I am waiting for my family to get up in America, while I myself am here.
It makes me feel outside of time, outside of the world, like I’ve become a society onto myself. There is a little bit of loneliness, but I’m happy to say that it is dispelled with pride. It’s like I played the game well enough to break the system and find myself outside of its bounds. For the first time, I have allowed myself to be a master.
It has become a living play of my circumstance. Both sides are pulling me. My past and my family is trying to pull me back to states, while my present and my friends are pulling me back out to the Far East. I’ve mentioned probably more times that you’ve cared to read on this blog that I’m struggling with where I want my future to lie. The reality of the situation is that my physical heart, the one that pumps blood and whiskey throughout my body and keeping me alive to write this very blog post currently resides in Germany, also known as neither of those places I’ve mentioned. Though torn, I feel like I am floating between them. I feel strangely peaceful in this however. I don’t think I’ve ever had this strong of a sense of myself, who I am, and where I am in this wide world that I find myself wandering about pretty freely. I am very blessed to be in this moment.
So stringing all this romance nonsense through this, let’s get digging. Is the physical heart or the emotional heart the more important one? My romantic life has always told me that the physical heart is expendable. You need to be willing to stand between your loved one’s a loaded gun in this life because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You smoke cigarettes and drink because life is not an achievement. I’m lucky enough in this strange and crazy universe to have even opened my eyes and seen it. To eat celery and run on a hamster wheel at a gym is silly considering that we’ve already won the great game. Even if for a moment, we have touched existence. Perhaps there are more out there, but this one is ours and for all its faults, I’m proud of it.
Are the New York Giants the best football team in the NFL? F*ck no. Is it good for my health to love them? Absolutely not. But we had some bright moments and it represents where I was born, that which is mine; so in turn, they are part of me. No matter how much stupid, crazy inane shit they do, they are bound to me as my team. Should I leave them for a team who’s game and management I respect and relate to more because they are being run shittily? If not for my physical heart, then for my mental well-being? Perhaps. But the idea of buying another team’s jersey would make me physically ill. Honestly, I would rather just not watch the NFL than cheer for another team. (And honestly, that is exactly what has happened.) Has romance done this to me?
Romance is what got me out here in the first place. It’s what made me say yes to China and Germany. Everything is temporary and in this weird moment of time I am granted a fascinating position from which to view it. There’s nothing wrong with being here in this moment, and maybe that in itself is the romance.
We all have our white rabbits and white whales and white dragons and white buffaloes and white salamanders or whatever white illusive animals that you personally chase. If there is really an argument for God in the world it’s that we always need something outside of possibility. The impossible may never be achieved, but the pursuit of it allows things, perhaps short of the intention, still impossible things to begin with. The carrots and sticks are tools by which we can achieve our own personal greatness. It can be used to awful and destructive ends, but if pointed in the right way, we can, if only by an increment, lift the status of the human as a whole.
The purpose of romance is no different than the purpose of psychedelics. It’s to see the world, not as it is, but as it could be. Perhaps Santa isn’t real, but maybe we can help those less fortunate than ourselves. Maybe people aren’t inherently good, but maybe that means I shouldn’t be a dick to people. Maybe there isn’t an all-holy ‘One’ whom God carved out specifically for me to marry and with whom I am made complete, but on the other hand, I shouldn’t stay in a relationship that doesn’t make fulfill me and make me happy with myself and what I’m doing.
Maybe there’s a good future and a bad future for me in these places. Maybe there is a bad future and a bad future, but then again there could be a good future and a good future. At least I get the benefit of having a crossroads. This might not be a solid answer, but at least it makes me feel good about it.
Despite the two week thing, I still managed to get this thing in late to you guys. Apologies to you and myself. I drafted this up pretty quickly, because even though I still have some fiction in the hopper, I wanted to say some of this stuff while I was out there. Definitely not as clean as it could be, but I’m glad to have written it. Hope you feel similar reading.
Hopefully in two weeks we take a little departure from the essay format so I can get a new story out to you guys. Regardless though, anyone reading this, I’m really grateful for your time and attention. I really hope to get this thing off the ground, so I’ll take any feedback you guys have to offer. Any opinion is a good opinion. Feel free to email or message me in any way you can. Talk to you guys soon.