Monday, October 13, 2008

True Hearts

I remember when I started high school. From the first day, there were already several established boy/girl couples. I don't know whether the deals were closed before they got there or not. But they sure hit the ground running, and at least three of these couples stayed glued to the hip through graduation. Of the three, one split up when the guy suddenly left her afterwords for a friend of hers. It probably helped that he was a dog, or at least a big dumb jock. A second couple married after high school, and the wife died some years later, with the husband marrying another classmate. A third got married also, and were still together when I went to my twenty-year reunion. That was fifteen years ago, and they're probably bouncing grandchildren on their knees as this is written.

When we're growing up, we're told to develop our own personality, before trying to live it through someone else out of some co-dependent notion of true love. For the life of me, I cannot imagine even the most mature boy or girl in Western society, being able to see their way with sufficient clarity, as to know before their fourteenth birthday with whom they are to spend the rest of their lives.

It always seems to be the jocks. You know, the football star, the head cheerleader? Can any arrangement be any more cliché, therefore more suspect? And yet, somehow it happens, and sometimes, it actually works out. Personally, I don't get it.

Recently, Levi Johnson of Wasilla, Alaska, the eighteen-year-old local "heartthrob" and fiancé of Bristol Palin, ducked the advice of his future mother-in-law's handlers, and spoke to the press. Just this once.

Levi Johnston, who’s having a baby with the daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Gov Sarah Palin, can’t believe all the things he’s hearing.

No, he wasn’t held against his will on the campaign trail. No, he’s not being forced into a shotgun wedding with 17-year-old Bristol Palin.

“None of that’s true,” Johnston, 18, said in a rare interview with The Associated Press. “We both love each other. We both want to marry each other. And that’s what we are going to do.”

I suppose it's possible, at some point in life, to be confronted with the inevitable, to such an extent that even when we aren't ready to face life in such a way, we put our fear aside and make ourselves ready.

That transformation very nearly happened to me when I was in college. I was a junior when I learned that a girl back home (where I was still living) wanted to get together with me. She was a senior in high school, and was about three years younger. She possessed a wisdom beyond her years, though, and we'd always had a chemistry from when we were little. Don't ask me why. I would meet her in the restaurant, and take her hands in mine, as she told me of her perfect-on-the-outside family life was falling apart. We went to the movies, we went to church, we went shopping, we were a couple. I felt a sense of destiny, that the peripheral interaction in our childhood was to culminate in what was absolutely meant to be. I could not have felt more complete.

Then we drifted apart. I'm not sure of the reason, but I have two working theories. First, that our dads used to carpool together probably didn't help. My dad was still at the stage in life where he had to be in complete control of his surroundings, including how he appeared to others. My social life wasn't fitting with that grand vision, and he couldn't stop butting in. Maybe it was that. Second, maybe she reached a point where she had to get away from everything that reminded her of her family life, including an otherwise perfectly-suitable young man, of whom her parents would have approved.

Then again, I could be completely wrong on both counts.

I haven't thought about this in years, and I probably wouldn't be thinking about it now, except for what I read today. I saw her years later, after my own marriage ended. By that time, she had several children, and had left the Church for a conservative Baptist congregation. From all accounts, she was very happy. I wish I could keep up with her more than I do. Then again, life has taken us on very different paths. All that I am today, I am because I didn't really know my own destiny after all.

Thankfully, there was Someone Else who did.

(PHOTO: Presidential candidate Sen John McCain, R-AZ, center, on arrival at the GOP convention Sep 3, greets Levi Johnston, left, boyfriend of Bristol Palin, second left, as vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov Sarah Palin, right, watches. Charles Dharapak/Associated Press. Used without permission or shame.)

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