[Image credit: Brett Davis]
It was a Sunday morning in Manhattan. I awoke to clings and clangs of pots and pans, and they were only just audible enough to drown out the sounds of summer filtering up and in through the windows. An aroma of fried food wafted over from the kitchen. I was intrigued. And then, he came into the bedroom with a fresh-squeezed glass of juice:
“Here you go, love. You just relax.”
“Uh, I most certainly will.”
I picked up The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway from his window ledge and began to read, drifting off somewhere in the middle of ‘The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.’ This time, it wasn’t a noise that awoke me, but a smell: that of a proper English breakfast. Bacon and eggs and coffee and hash browns and jam. Blueberry jam. (How did he know my favorite flavor?)
I couldn’t believe it. The last time someone had brought me breakfast in bed was three years ago. I was sick as a dog, and that person was my mother (hey, Mom!)
When I left his apartment later that humid and hazy day, I got to thinking about soulmates. What defines a soulmate? Do we get more than one in a lifetime? How do we know when to stop our soulmate search? Is it foolish to even hold out for one to begin with? Does someone whom you’ve been seeing for a hot minute treating you well, on its own, make him worthy of being your soulmate — or does that just make him a good person?
24 is a weird age; upon striking up conversation with 35-year-old strangers at bars, your wisdom is playfully dismissed and you’re called a “baby,” but then you go home and check out your Instagram feed, and some 26-year-old chick has just uploaded a clip of her engagement story – y’know, the one that was featured in last month’s issue of Stone Fox Bride magazine. And then, that biological clock that you’ve impressively managed to mute suddenly becomes annoyingly loud. And you’re sitting there with a bottomless glass of red wine, doing a line (of Oreos), all like, “Yo, engaged chick, I’m really happy for you and Ima let you finish, but I don’t give a flying fck about your smooth-sailing love life and — oh sht. I got crumbs in my bed. Egyptian cotton my ass. I don’t deserve nice things.”
^^ (totally hypothetical situation) ^^
Anyway, soulmate. To many, “soulmate” means to stand the test of time. But I can’t attest to the validity of my feelings for any current romantic prospects; I could simply be imposing the title of ‘Potential Soulmate’ onto them because many of my girlfriends have boyfriends. In psychology, the term “mob mentality” “describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items.” Mob mentality is what leaves you lonely when you’re usually not susceptible to such a feeling. Mob mentality is what left me hungry for more English breakfast as I left his apartment too full to speak.
So again, I ask, what makes someone a soulmate? Are the qualities he has even relevant, or is it all about timing? (Insofar as the time in our lives to settle down, or to start a family – or the time in our lives in which we’re loneliest – deems the next guy we see deserving of the title). I think of how I’d feel about Breakfast Lover if I had met him at 27. I think of how I’d feel about him if I had met him at 22. I think of how I’d feel about him if I didn’t like breakfast.
I may be foolish for having stayed single as long as I have in the hope of finding my soulmate; in my scripted ending, the joke’s on everyone else, and all the bad dates and lost causes and false hopes will have opened the doors to someone who pleasantly surprises me.
But maybe, what defines a soulmate is your choice to stay with him. Maybe your soulmate is the man you’ve hand-picked, the man in whom you’ve instilled the faith that he’ll continue to make you laugh, and send chills up and down your spine, and make you breakfast in bed just when you think he forgot what it means to be a man. We wait for our soulmates like we wait for a good sample sale. Well, maybe the joke’s on me, and I’ve got it all wrong, and he isn’t meant to pick us, but we’re meant to pick him.
I wonder if connections we make in the present – those random, remarkable ones that flip our jaded expectations upside-down on their heads – can stand the test of time; of decades, of quarter-centuries.
I wonder if there’s any way of ever knowing if a connection will stand the test of time.