Being married can be a lot like hibernation.
You spend all this time when you’re younger dreaming up the right person that you could imagine spending your life with. They’ve got the humor of your favorite comedian, the body of your favorite movie star, the voice of your favorite musician. We grow up with these different archetypes surrounding us in media, and throw different qualities on our theoretical ideal like slapping clay onto a sculpture. Of course the people we end up meeting are never perfectly crafted, and we burn through a lot of mental energy realizing that there is no such thing as ideal.
Once you get over the mental hurdle, there’s the actual task of finding a spouse. For some this comes easier (thanks Tim) and others the journey can be longer. No matter when or how you get there, the destination to a life partner is not an easy one. After all the nights at the bar, awkward phone calls and interpersonal issues there hopefully comes a day when you can relax in the comfort of your marriage. The thank you cards have been written. The honeymoon is over. It’s a time for laying in bed together on Sunday afternoon and thinking, Man – that sure was stressful!
It took a while to get there, so y’all deserve a nap.
I’ve been thinking a lot about animals lately and how they relate to different stages in life. When I think of marriage, I think of a polar bear. Yeah, when you need to you can catch the seal and get things done… but isn’t napping glorious? Yes honey, we could go out to happy hour tonight or we could watch Game of Thrones on this ice cap and throw back some fish. A polar bear is slow and methodical, but powerful at the same time. They’re also endangered and live on this critical balance where their world is getting smaller by the minute. Time lounging with your spouse is precious, because whether we know it or not – the ice caps are melting.
For years and years, I was a polar bear.
Being single and dating is land far away from the glacier north. Here in the jungle, the air is hot and muggy. If you breathe in deeply through your mouth, you can almost taste the swamp. It’s not the climate nor the culture for napping and casually strolling around. Dating to me is a tiger, both metaphorical and literal since you can ask any woman who’s been on Tinder for 5 minutes how many pictures she’s seen of a sleazy looking bozo posing with a drugged Bengal tiger laid out on a table. To be single and thrive, you have to be cat-like. It’s not a lumbering charge forward or brave plunge into the sea, but a lot of rapid swiping and to be frank – a lot of hiding in the trees.
The transition for me is a little rough.
People expect the tiger, not the polar bear. They will dangle the string and wait for the cat to play but I kind of just stare at it and think, Is this really necessary? I’m going to go murder a seal and nap. The endless chase is tiring too – polar bears nor tigers make good long distance runners. If I could set the rules for myself, I would make everyone a Golden Retriever. Constantly seeking happiness, full of bountiful optimism, never able to turn down a potential companion and wholeheartedly open to the idea of love.
If I’m being honest though, I’m not wholeheartedly open to the idea of love. I have that in common with all the carnivores I guess.
Of course people are solidly… people. They’re not polar bears or tigers, and we keep dogs like Golden Retrievers around to fill the holes that our species will inevitably leave in us.