Ah, how easy it can be for us to throw out our contentment for the dream of something better, more romantic, for the idea that there is another person in the world who understands you in a way that no one in your current life possibly can.
We search for that ineffable connection. Whole conversations pass between you without a word spoken. The fantasy of this other happiness makes you whole, makes you better because they bring out the best in you. They inspire you, make you write poetry. When you have a fight, it's really just passion, and it always ends in a flurry of tearing clothes and long clingy nights. And sometimes we even mistakenly believe the dream is real, and the reality that we once found comforting becomes suffocating.
But, like the character in Bilgere's poem, who is smart enough to see the fantasy through to its likely conclusion, all of these dreams are just illusions. Eventually everyone smiles with broccoli in their teeth, hams up a cold, gets a wart or bad gas or smells like onions. Even us.
by George Bilgere
I'm sitting here reading the paper,
feeling warm and satisfied, basically content
with my life and all I have achieved.
Then I go up for a refill and suddenly realize
how much happier I could be with the barista.
Late thirties, hennaed hair, an ahnk
or something tattooed on her ankle,
a little silver ring in her nostril.
There's some mystery surrounding why she's here,
pouring coffee and toasting bagels at her age.
But there's a lot of torsion when she walks,
which is interesting. I can sense right away
how it would all work out between us.
We'd get a loft in the artsy part of town,
and I can see how we'd look shopping together
at our favorite organic market
on a snowy winter Saturday,
snowflakes in our hair,
our arms full of leeks and shiitake mushrooms.
We would do tai chi in the park.
She'd be one of the few people
who actually "gets" my poetry
which I'd read to her in bed.
And I can see us making love, by candlelight,
Struggling to find words for the ineffable.
We never dreamed it could be like this.
And it would all be great, for many months,
until one day, unable to help myself,
I'd say something about that nostril ring.
Like, do you really need to wear that tonight
at Sarah and Mike's house, Sarah and Mike being
pediatricians who intimidate me slightly
with their patrician cool, and serious money.
And she would give me a look,
a certain lifting of the eyebrows
I can see she's capable of, and right there
that would be the end of the ineffable.