I had finally finished watching the film ‘Love and Other Drugs’ – took me three days with all the pausing and starting as essay inspiration struck.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s a recap: handsome man falls in love with beautiful woman who has young-onset Parkinson’s.
They split up a few times but then they get back together, Parkinson’s and all. Love apparently conquers everything.
Anyway, I got talking to a close friend about the film and as I was waxing lyrical, she interrupted me and said, ‘well, yeah, it’s Hollywood. Not going to happen in real life, is it? I’m sorry to say but I think you’re going to have to get used to being single. You know, what with the (whisper) MS thing’.
Before I resorted to violence, I remembered that this was the same person who once told me you can gauge whether or not someone is single from how high the pile of books is at their bedside. The reckoning is, if you’re out gallivanting with a Significant Other, you won’t have time to read books.
I’ve just been upstairs and counted. I have eight books on my table, and a photograph of me and The Teenager circa 2009. Plus I have a large canvas of some barren, wintry trees and a lone cyclist on the wall above my bed. ‘Nuff said. Maybe she has a point?
It got me thinking. Her remarks were infuriating in two ways; first to me but also to the people who can see beyond MS and fall in love with a person for who they are, MS and all. I guess I was unlucky. The person I was with during diagnosis skedaddled for the door so speedily he couldn’t open it fast enough. It took me two months of mourning before I recycled his toothbrush into a handy wotsit for cleaning round the taps.
I remain single. To be honest, and it’s not an excuse, it’s been an enlightening way of discovering how empowering it can to be. Solitude has been a patient teacher. Yet, I appear to be ‘damaged goods’. Believe me, being over 40 (only a year, mind) and divorced with a Stroppy Teenager is a death knell in itself for finding a life-companion, even without the MS thrown in.
So, if I am alone for the rest of my life, so be it. I refuse to engage in the whole coquettish ‘ooh, get me in a sparkly dress with a hold-everything-in contraption, and l’il ol’ me over 40!’ Just waiting, desperately, longingly, for someone, anyone to reply, ‘you? Over 40? Well I never! Drink?’.
Nope, I’d far rather keep on wearing my jeans, schlepping to Uni and understanding, for the first time, that there is more to life than a possibly-elusive search for ‘The One’. When/if it happens, it will happen.