I was driving last week when "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" came up on shuffle on Spotify. The 1970s rule of law decrees that I cannot turn off an Andy Gibb song, and also that I need to sing with enough energy that my six-year-old self wouldn't throw crayons at me. As I mentally traced over the familiar territory—he was one of my first concerts when I was in elementary school, how sad that he died, I wonder what a 60-year-old Andy Gibb would look or sound like or BE—I took in the music and the lyrics and determined that should I ever wander into a relationship with another human being again, I was taking this song with me. "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" would be our song, mine and that unicorn's.
Picking out "our songs" before I ever meet a significant other might make it redundant to add that I've been single for a long time. Countries have changed their names and people I know have gotten married and divorced and questionably shacked up again since I had a consistent plus-one to anything. Marriage equality for LGBT people passed, first in my state and then in my country, and I've cried over courthouse weddings and backyard weddings and full-blown mega-deal church weddings of people both gay and straight, where if I'm there in person I'm always on high alert to avoid the "All the Single Ladies" call to bouquet toss action.
Singleness isn't embarrassing or sad to me as much as it is just the truth. I've been miserable in relationships and happy alone, and vice versa. We all draw different cards in this game, and single has been mine for this (really sort of objectively) long period of time. Sometimes it makes me wistful and feel a loneliness I can only tag to not having another person designated as my person, but I have felt those things with the wrong partner, too. I see people living it with their wrong people. I don't want any more of that. No more wrong, if I can help it.
I had some stuff to work out to make that a strong possibility; I had to regroup. The energy it took me first to live a life dependent on alcohol and then to claw my way out of that left none behind to appropriately give to another person, not before I stopped and not really since I got busy getting better. In the words of John Bender, there's nothing to do when you're locked in a vacancy, either of compulsive self-medication and the inevitable wreckage of that, or of focused healing. They're extreme points on the same continuum. I was lucky to get free at all, and since I did it's taken time to rewire, to sift back over the years of choices made when life always seemed to be in disarray, or at least not lived fully conscious of where point A and point B were, much less how to get between them. Always looking to fill something up I couldn't identify or reach on my own, like that place in the middle of my back, I needed too much from people, and mostly landed with good souls who still couldn't give even close to it, because the target kept moving, and who really can or should take on being someone's everything if the person is running on fumes and means that everything thing literally?
Looking backwards mindfully can have the effect of making a person—at least this one—absolutely unwilling to actively, knowingly participate in any further train wrecks, self-inflicted or otherwise. I know people who date in early recovery, with resulting success and total disaster, but even drinking they may have been less awkward or more socially confident than I am. Honest to god, that bar is super, super low. The limbo champion of the world would lose trying to get under it. I'm a socially anxious person who passes for an extrovert because of a tendency towards extreme nervous talking, and the nervousness and fear I had in dating while drinking are now fully on display—at least between my ears—except now they're not numbed out. I can hear myself entirely and track all of my movements. Nothing slips by me now. It's horrifying. The huge bonus, though, besides having a shot at a real conversation and potential connection based in real personalities and not the aftermath of happy hour, is having total control over my electronic communications. Do you know what a kick it is to wake up in the morning and know that if I sent an ill-advised text or e-mail, that I already know about it? That I knew I was being an asshole while it was happening and maybe already addressed it somehow? This is a solid gold good life. This is a decent foundation, even if it is taking what feels like dog years to build it.
Anyway. The bit at the stoplight with Andy Gibb and the song, it's a good sign. It's hopeful, and that's an improvement. It means that I'm ready to even briefly consider that me and someone have been finding each other for so long, even if in the next breath I shut that idea down with years of negative data and some difficulty changing the tape. When I'm honest I can admit that I'm in a better position to give a little more than I ask for now, and maybe someday, in spite of myself, I'll have a chance to try it out. The song is already all picked out.
To celebrate love this year, I made a Spotify Valentines playlist. It includes songs that have had various meanings to me over the years where love and relationships are concerned. Some of them other people knew about, and others they absolutely did not. There are so many songs on here already, and yet there are so many more that aren't, because they didn't pop up in my mind when I was making this, or they're not available on Spotify. (Note, for instance, that I couldn't include "Diamonds and Pearls' because Prince is in a complicated relationship with the internet.) Love, man. It's where it's at.
Please visit my other pals in this Valentine's Day "Songs to get you in the mood" series. They are some of my favorite people, and you will be glad you dropped by.