‘Do you think the universe fights for souls to be together? Some things are too strange and strong to be coincidences.’
~ Emery Allen
Two years ago, I been through a handful of strange and off-putting first dates and two failed long(er)-term relationships. Despite my high self-esteem and my strong feminism, I was constantly the ‘dump-ee’ rather than the ‘dump-er;’ even if I knew I was holding onto something that wasn’t right, I did so with a vise grip.
My first date ever (yes, at age 21, it was this late bloomer’s first date) was one of these chemistry ‘huh?!’s. Mystery Man #1 (I legitimately don’t remember his name — the pseudonym is not simply for anti-libel purposes) and I had talked for weeks in anticipation (I later learned to limit the digital ‘pre-game’) in cute texts and emails.
We met for coffee and he proceeded to introduce me to the magical world of Ravenswood Used Books on Chicago’s North Side. He invited me to dinner at his favorite Italian restaurant. When it came time to head back to my car to feed the meter, he lingered chatting with me in the freezing, breath-revealing air until he finally asked if I would like to come to his place.
Finally! Praise the Gods! I was going to have my first kiss! Maybe some first-time sexy times as well — we’d have to see how the evening progressed, of course.
I followed him on the short walk back to his apartment, and he gave me the tour (the tour! That’s code for, ‘Why look, I happen to have a bed. Can you think of any possible use for that thing?’). Nope. We sat on the couch (the couch! That’s code for, ‘Slide over next to me on this smaller, less comfortable bed!’). Nothing. He offered me something to drink, and in love with me as he was, let me have the last glass of his favorite expensive juice (expensive juice! That’s code for . . . Actually, I suppose that might have just been juice. A cigar is sometimes just a cigar, after all.).
Long story short, I stayed at this boychick‘s apartment until Five. O’clock. In the morning. Early morning hours spent poking through pictures of his time spent working at Disneyland and watching him perform magic tricks. And, no, unfortunately, that is not code.
Two days after I left, he texted me (in a message that spanned three separate text lengths) apologizing for just not ‘feeling it.’ Feeling what? My boobs? Because I would have been down with that!
Thus began a series of failed dates over which I would end up confused and whining to my mom, still no closer to defining chemistry. After all, what was chemistry, really? Was it physical? Sexual? Was it even a real phenomenon or was the whole idea just a smokescreen for what we weren’t brave enough to say:
It was my opinion that, if you and your date of the night have similar interests and neither one of you resembles Quasimodo, there should be a relationship in the making . . . no other candidates need apply. My desperation for a successful romance didn’t allow me the luxury of eliminating potential dates by excuse of a chemical mismatch.
More importantly, my overly-logical brain fundamentally couldn’t process the idea that someone could make a good decision — the right decision — guided by such a nebulous determining factor as ‘chemistry,’ rather than sensibly abiding by an overarching, ever growing, and invisible pro/con list.
But then there was a kitten. (And a man, don’t worry — we’ll be getting to that).
In September of this year, (over a year since the passing of my canine fur-baby Muffin) our family adopted a kitten whom we christened ‘Binx’ (if you didn’t catch the Hocus Pocus reference, rent said movie immediately).
Nothing about our life with Binx was logical or formulaic.
- We had been given the run-around by several different shelters before finding Animal House Shelter online during an impromptu, late-night Google search.
- After our application had been approved, we had selected three different kittens to meet in person — none of which we actually ended up seeing. Instead, once at the shelter, we chose two kittens to visit with — and declared Binx the winner some indeterminate reason.
- Binx came to us healthy with wide, clear eyes — until she died suddenly and violently, two months later, of F.I.P.
Senseless death and unresolved grief have their ways of turning you upside down and inside out; of making you see everything in a different light. The spiritual quest for answers that I undertook following Binx’s death woke me up to a very non-scientific belief in fate.
This was not the face of fate that presides over so many fictional ‘happily ever afters’ or sits enraptured at a sermon where an ignorant minister yammers on about how the deaths of the innocent are really all part of ‘God’s Plan.’ Rather, it was my kind of fate — the gentle tap on your shoulder reminding you that, while there may be no reason at all why someone you love had to die, there was a very good reason for them to have lived.
The kind of fate that reminded me that my relationship with my partner, Andrew, hadn’t lasted because he is perfect on paper (which is not to say he doesn’t have a plethora of wonderful qualities that I could list off the top of my head) but instead because neither of us can imagine a universe in which it doesn’t last — how’s that for unscientific?
To say that our relationship is a product of fate is not to imply that we don’t fight, and fight consistently, about both the silly, small differences between us as well as the grave, make-or-break problems that we’ve faced — and will continue to face — as a couple. It is simply to say that, despite our differences, our relationship endures because we love each other. It is as simple and as complicated as that — like writing your own name for the first time or learning how to make toast without burning it.
And though it may not help you to pass any exams, that, in my opinion, is a pretty good definition for ‘chemistry.’