A friend brought me dulce de leche he had made. Milk and sugar are slowly simmered until the milk evaporates to one sixth of the volume of the milk used. Two simple two ingredients which together yield something rich, complex, and unique.
Kind of like this equation: Boy meets Girl. They fall in love.
What happens afterward, ah...well, I suppose that's the richness, the complexity, the uniqueness.
I imagine The Boy sitting at the window in his hotel room, arms resting lightly on his stomach, legs stretched out and propped on the ledge of the window sill; the darkness in his room bathed in the light on the other side of the glass. I see him in this pose and in the darkness because it's probably the most accurate reflection of his mood lately.
The Girl has called things off after two years together. She's younger than he by several years and she's reached a cusp in her life where she wants to explore her life, beyond the confines of the relationship in which they have placed themselves. She thinks she's too young to commit fully despite the fact that she, in her own way, loves the Boy as much as she understands that emotion now.
It's funny: how age means different things in different times. A hundred years ago, she would have been considered "on the shelf" and too old to be unmarried.
He calls her the love of his life. The first time he did, I was hard pressed not to smile condescendingly. At almost twice his age, it's hard to imagine that someone so young can be so certain, so emphatic and so immutable in his belief that this girl completes him. But in the midst of condescension comes the memory of Christie and Mark, a couple I met years ago -- they had been married only a few years, but they had been together since kindergarten, where they'd met twenty-two years earlier. Yes. Kindergarten. So time and age clearly aren't the defining factors of what makes this one The One and not One Of The Possible Ones...
The Boy tries very hard to be cynical but he's too young to achieve the nonchalance with any credibility. It's impossible for him to contain his yearning or his hopefulness.
The Girl tries very hard to be kind but she's too young to know that breaking someone's heart is painful stuff no matter how well meaning her intentions.
Hubby and I were once talking about books and I mentioned that I had never managed to read "Catcher in the Rye." He said, "It's too late."
Apparently there is a finite period of time in which you can read and relate to the book; and while it is possible to enjoy and appreciate the work as an adult, its power can only be felt when read as an angst-ridden teen on the cusp of adulthood, at once certain and befuddled about what happens next.
There is a kind of love that exists only in a specific period of time: when it is infinite, expansive and intense. It is de facto existentialism: it is whatever it does. I used to think it could only happen when you were very young, when all things seem possible; but as I get older, I think it exists somewhere between the tender pause of a hopeful beginning and the brutishness of disappointment so deep that no optimism can be carried forward into the next relationship.
Which is to say, beginnings are always so so lovely; and endings are so hard.
I don't make dulce de leche. I get my friends to make it for me. I have a tendency to burn my dulces. And burnt caramel, like burnt love...is, for lack of better word, yucky.
When last I talked to darling G., she said solemnly: "I'm ready to be happy and in love."
And D.? Oh, his love life keeps me riveted.
There's an Act III. I've been watching theirs unfold...