A Personal Response to “On Love” by Alain de Botton

March 14, 2009

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A Personal Response to

“On Love” by Alain de Botton

by Rachel Shine

“My name is Rachel, I’m from Chicago.  I want to say thanks for nothing to Derek for breaking up with me on Monday instead of coming over for sandwiches,” I said into a camera recently.  No offence, Derek; I’m only playing around- this is what we do.  We “clumsily seek” (8).  (Now, as I’m about to share, I’m experiencing some nervousness due to the intimacy of the subject.  I continue, though, because humans being humans is something to be proud of.  Or at least open about.)  We’re learning.

He was not the guy I imagined myself with.  I thought I’d fall for a Mexican Art Historian or an experimental musician and philosophy major from Montana.  But when we were together, I felt comfortable and confident because his personality felt familiar to me.  We shared a fear that our fathers’ health could take them from us; we have tattoos on our wrists that mean related things to us; he played in a band that I was a fan of in high school.  “Small details, perhaps, but were they not grounds enough on which believers could found a new religion?” (9).

We laughed together and shared philosophies.  It seemed each understood things about the other that others did not.  It was exciting, then, when our interests diverged because we could teach each other about subjects like punk rock, fauvism or 2001: A Space Odyssey.  We could grow together while retaining our individual interests.  It seemed perfect because while not demanding much from each other we still had someone there to support and be supported by with our presence alone.  “Though the dice may roll any number of ways, we frantically draw up patterns of necessity, never more than when it is the inevitability that one day we will fall in love” (18).  And why not now?

So I imagined that our meeting at work was perfectly cinematic and fantasized about futures together.  My aunt invited the two of us to visit her in Vancouver, Washington and we planned out what to show him, who has never been to the Pacific Northwest.  But in the end I’d ignored the “unthinkable thought that the need to love is always prior to our love for anyone in particular” and when it fell apart, I learned that now is not the time.  Our differences and my appreciation of the independence our relationship allowed for means he is not an absolute necessity in my life.  And I respect his call to leave.

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