The Princess and The Fish
“According to Greek Mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives searching for their other halves.” – Plato
It’s really starting to feel like the universe wants me to stay home for the rest of my life. Maybe to think about my life or to spit to the ceiling or to count sheep or something, I don’t know. Literally the day after I started feeling like my almost 3-week-pneumonia was finally getting better on a fateful Halloween weekend I fell (again) on the street right outside my house and hurt my knee badly enough so that every inch of my bed has become painfully familiar to me in the past few days. After years of nagging to everyone about finding silver linings in crappy situations, I feel responsible to do so myself – so here’s something I’ve had all the idle time in the world to think about this week.
We are taught since we are kids – more so girls than boys, may I add, but I’m not getting to that now – that for all of us there is this special someone out there in the world. This One that we will meet at some point in our life, this soulmate, other half, whatever you choose to call them. We watch Disney films and play with Barbies and Kens and plan our weddings with this Mr Right. And then we grow older, start dating, probably have a few awkward, traumatic experiences with people that were very clearly not The Ones for us, and at some point come the heartbreaks with the people we once thought might be The Ones for us, and we start to question the whole theory of The One. I mean, it is rather insane isn’t it, not to mention awfully depressing. There are simply too many things that can go wrong!
First of all, if this person is literally one in like 6 billion, what are the chances that you will ever even cross paths with them? And even if you do, is it possible that you accidentally pass them by, or is there a higher power or force of universe or something, that will force you to meet them? But even if you were one of those incredibly lucky people that do meet their other half, what if you grow apart? What if the other one dies prematurely? What if you’re already settled down with someone else, thinking they are perfectly right for you, and one day you just meet this One that is even righter? Are you supposed to just throw your life – your husband and kids and Volvo and terrier – out the window and jump in head first with your soulmate?
And yet, despite its scariness, naivety and complete lack of logic, there’s something about the thought that makes you want to believe it’s true. That somewhere out there exists this person that completes you, makes you whole. That one day, like Snow White sings, your prince will come. But could it be you get many princes in your life? Or the scarier alternative, that there just isn’t a prince out there for everyone?
One of the reasons why this has been on my mind is because of some interesting conversations I’ve had with my friends recently. They don’t know each other, and their situations are very different from each others’, but for some reason with each of them the conversation has sooner or later spiraled from men and women and relationships and heartbreak and commitment and marriage to The Theory of The One.
“I think there is this one right person for everyone. Two, if you’re lucky.”
“Me too. You know when after every break up everyone tells you how there’s plenty of fish in the sea? Bullshit. There’s literally like two fish.”
“Yeah. Like two right fishes. Good luck finding them amongst all the wrong ones.”
“What if by being with him I’m missing my chance to find someone who’s more right for me? And then again, what if that someone doesn’t exist and I missed the chance to be happy with him looking for this One?”
“I believe if you were happy with him we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.”
“I don’t think people are meant to be together or not meant to be together. I think you either choose this person – and choose them every day – and you work for it with them, or you don’t. It’s that simple.”
The more you learn about life and love, the more you start creating alternative theories of your own.
“Everyone knows you get two great loves in your life” – Charlotte, Sex and the City
“It’s chemistry. If you have chemistry, you only need one other thing – timing. And timing’s a bitch.” – Robyn, How I Met Your Mother
“It’s not about destiny. It’s about finding someone you’re ready to fight for, to really work for it – and who is ready to do the same for you.” – Mum
But then again, there are these incredible love stories that you hear. Stories that cannot be explained in any other way. Stories that, come to think of it, are quite comparable to those of Disney princesses. After all, none of the princesses just got their prince by walking by. Aurora slept for a lifetime. Ariel abandoned everything she knew to live on land. Pocahontas nearly had her whole tribe killed and land destroyed. Jasmine fell in love with a criminal. Belle was able to look past his monstrous looks. Snow White almost died of poisoning. Cinderella lost a shoe (okey, she got off rather easy). Not all stories make it to books and movies, but it doesn’t make them any less magical.
Like the story of my friends P and B. He, an American, flew to London for a holiday with his friends. She was working there at the time, and their eyes met in the midst of a carnival. He thought she was with this other guy, and was about to talk to some other girl, when she tapped him on the shoulder, and they got to talking. They didn’t part for three days, after which he flew back to the USA. She was sure she’d never hear from him again, but he e-mailed her at once after he landed. A month later he flew back to be with her for three weeks. This was 6 years ago. Now, after years of dating without ever living in the same country, she moved to the USA to study and to be with him. When I asked them how on Earth they can have survived the long distance relationship for 6 years, he said simply “After those three weeks I just knew. She was the one.”
Or the story of my friends C and D. She was working in Italy where he lived and went on a girls’ night out in a local gay club. There they met a group of guys, one of which spoke next to no English, so she, being the only one with some Italian skills, sat next to him. As it turns out, he wasn’t gay at all, the language lessons paid off, and they’ve been together for many years now, and recently moved to New York and got married.
Or like the story I saw today on a documentary on the worst prisons in the world. A woman walked into this disgusting ghetto prison with her sister whose husband was in jail. There she met one of the prisoners and they fell in love. They’ve been together for years now, have children and a house and during this whole time he’s never been a free man. She visits him three times a week. “It was love at first sight. Me and my children can’t survive without him. It’s difficult, but we’re waiting for the day he gets out and we can have a real life together.”
Or the story of us.
For the first time in my life I’m in a relationship of which I can honestly say I think it’s going to last. If not forever, for a good while. Of course you hope this in all your relationships. I’ve just never been quite this sure. Which is ironic, because it’s the most complicated, difficult, impossible relationship I’ve ever been in, and so are its future aspects – after just 6 months of dating (most of which we’ve lived together in crappy NYC apartments – and believe me, that alone is challenging to any relationship) it is possible we are soon facing the delights of long-distance as he probably will leave New York to study for two years. With anyone else I would be one foot out the door by now, but there’s something about him. Maybe just the way he says, in his relaxed, casual tone: “Of course we’ll make it. Look at what we’ve been through in only 6 months! What we have is strong enough for that. Don’t worry.” And honestly, I don’t, which – like everyone who really knows me would agree – is quite an accomplishment.
What’s funny about all this is that only months before I met Mr Casual I met someone else. Someone with whom I shared interests, values, world views, religious views, ambitions, hobbies, diets, even the exact birth date for God’s sake. He was quite literally the male version of myself, or as close as it gets. As an eternal romantic and a fan of Ancient Greeks I was obviously blown away by the sheer discovery that there would be a person like that out there, and out of all places in the world, this city and literally the same neighborhood I had just moved to. As naïve as it seems now, I was sure this was a sign, a message of some kind, or better yet, the reason I had been pulled so strongly towards New York for all these years. We went on three dates and that was it. We haven’t been in contact since. At the time I was sure something went terribly wrong. I mean, why would I meet this person and then not even have him in my life? Was this just a crazy coincidence after all, or a universal joke, or some kind of lesson?
And then, a few months down the road, I meet this guy in a karaoke bar, become friends with him, and after many brunches and group hangings and nights out and road trips, all of a sudden we’re standing in an ATM booth in the wee hours of the morning, after everyone else has gone home from the bar, and he says, in the midst of a beer-hazed conversation, “you know we’re meant to be together, right?” I didn’t. I had no idea. This was a person that was my opposite in almost every possible way. A person that challenged me on all possible accounts, made me rethink opinions and values I’d had for years, forced me to do a double-take on everything from worldly issues to politics to religion, made me admit flaws that I sure as hell didn’t feel like admitting. He was just as competitive as me (at one point our friends actually refused to play board games with us), just as stubborn as me, just as proud as me, and always – it seemed to me at the time – playing against me. But for half a year now we’ve been a team. And together we might just win.
It’s funny, how life turns out sometimes. How the most random events can make for such an elaborate plan. Is it destiny? Does it mean we’re “meant to be”? Maybe not. Maybe there isn’t such a thing as The One, and it’s all just a result of being in the right place at the right time and having the determination, patience and the shared will to work for it. Who knows?
Our story is still at its beginning and it’s too early to tell if there’ll be Happily Ever Afters. All I know is that as of right now, this life with this person in this city is the one for me. And I crave the other fish only when they come on a plate covered in rice and seaweed.
PS. Heard any amazing real life love stories? Please share them in the comments!
PPS. All the pictures in this post are taken by, with or of my lovely Danish friend Anna, who’s adventures in NYC you can follow here: http://annawarrington.dk/