I finally made time this evening to watch a movie an ex-boyfriend emailed me a link to about a week ago. This ex, whom I wrote about here, and I are friends, and sometimes we email each other interesting videos, blogs, and other things of the sort. The movie, called 51 Birch Street, was a heart-wrenching and heart-warming look at the director’s parents’ marriage.
You can watch the entire movie for free here. The film chronicles a 54 year marriage and especially the complexities and disconnect two people can have while married (especially when married!). It was thoughtful, surprising, and yes, depressing. But life, hmmm, well, isn’t life depressing sometimes? So, I guess this movie was REAL, very real.
And my ex wrote this note when he sent me the movie link: “….just probably makes life, love and the whole marriage thing a bit more real. Nothing is perfect on the inside. Nothing is perfect ever really, I guess. And humans aren’t perfect either.”
I was thinking about this quote and what it means and how often I look at other people’s relationships like they are perfect and then feel, inevitably, envious. But then I also thought how much I don’t like perfection, how much I love flaws. As much as I can even beat myself up about my flaws, there still the screwed up parts of me that I like the best. Because I’m working on them, yes, but also because they define me in so many ways: so my boobs are terrible–I gave LIFE; so I have two kids from two different fathers–I chose HAPPINESS; so I failed in some life moment–I LEARNED.
This train of through made me realize the absolute, unfiltered BEAUTY in flaws.
Which made me think of a totally inappropriate story I told one of my classes a few days ago.
This may not make a lot of sense, but then, this is how my mind works sometimes. O.K. I walked into class the other day, and I noticed one of my male students was growing a pretty thick beard, and so I commented, “Growing a beard?”
And he said, “Of course, it’s no shave November.”
So then I mused about the idea of no shave November, and then I said, “I once had a boyfriend who grew a beard, and I loved it. You know, I really love a man with a beard.”
I know, right? Total over sharing. But wait, it gets worse.
Because this ex boyfriend and his beard was on my mind, I started to laugh a little, thinking of a funny story. My class asked what I was laughing about and I just said, “Oh, an old memory.”
“Tell us,” they said.
And of course, wouldn’t you know, I opened my big mouth and told the story.
But it is a RAD story. And it goes a little something like this:
When I was 21 I had been dating this wonderful man for years (and I’ve already written about him here), but all of a sudden I started feeling overwhelmed. I felt out relationship was getting too serious (my mom had recently sent me a clipping of a beautiful wedding dress that she thought would look perfect on me if and when I married this man). So I did what any normal 21 year would do: I slowly, silently started to pull away. I wasn’t honest about my feelings, no. Rather, I made excuses that I was busy with school and other activities and just pulled away.
Yeah, anyone who thinks this is a subtle way of figuring out your feelings before having a serious and healthy conversation is so stupid. And stupid I was. He knew something was going on with me, and all it did was make him crazy that I wouldn’t talk to him.
But one night, a band was playing downtown and instead of going with my boyfriend like I normally would have, I instead told him I’d meet him at the show and went with my best friend Denise instead. We arrived, got a drink, and started dancing. Soon, my boyfriend showed up, and he was drunk, and it was like the entire few problematic months of our relationship came bubbling up. He started yelling at me–in front of everyone–and accused me of cheating on him (I wasn’t) and some other things. Finally, Denise came up and suggested we leave. Call it a night. Go home and cool down. Reconnect in the morning.
We made our way downstairs and across the parking lot to my car. As soon as we got in the car, however, we noticed my boyfriend running toward us, screaming for us not to leave. We decided to leave anyway.
As I pulled out of the parking spot and put the car in drive, my boyfriend took a running leap, projected himself with incredible accuracy, and landed –AND I SWEAR I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP–on my car window, shattering the entire windshield.
Denise was in shock. He was in shock. I was in complete shock. And while it felt like five minutes, it was really only seconds of quiet shock before I pushed the accelerator and drove to a friend’s house.
We broke up.
But lest you think terrible things about this man, well, don’t. He’s not violent. He’s not terrible. He just had a terrible, violent moment. He is, as I’ve written about before, an amazingly wonderful, caring man.
Anyway, I TOLD MY CLASS this entire story. And they listened with rapt attention. They had questions, they laughed, they were shocked. I also told them that he paid for a new windshield and then sent me a letter a day for the entire summer (with dried flowers. Yeah, I still have them) apologizing and trying to convince me to get back together with him. I didn’t. And not because of the car, but because we were not a good match.
After telling this completely inappropriate story to my class, I did actually teach them a lesson. And then as soon as class was over, because this man and I are still friends and correspond, I sent him a text telling him how I just told my entire class this story and about the love letters and about the not being a good match and how I was totally embarrassed now.
And he responded: ‘Even the bad times were good.”
Which made me smile and made me think how lucky I am to still be friends with him. And my other ex. I’ve had two very serious relationships with very wonderful men and we’ve all turned out alright. Good even. Actually, pretty damn awesome.
So as we–all three of us–navigate through the past, think about the future, and wonder about the in between, we have to–like almost everyone around us–figure out who we are and how we fit with other people. It’s a constant challenge for me, I know.
But I think it’s a good life mantra to think that even the bad times are good. Even the flaws are beautiful. Even broken people and broken relationships are important and spectacular and worthy.
I’m pretty thankful for all my flaws, all my bad times, the few men who have helped me become better, and all the life lesson in between.