i had nearly forgotten about the bubble.
it had been years since i had experienced that wonderful state of messiness that i like to call "the bubble". you may call it by a different name, but i am sure that if you are breathing, then no matter what you call it you know what i am referring to. it is that state when all of a sudden you understand what everyone is talking about when they go on and on about how great relationships are. it is that state when you know that someone is thinking about you in a different way than anyone else. it is that state when you suddenly feel like a part of the game, like you matter, like you have someone walking beside you, like life has renewed meaning. it is that state when you stop thinking about death, or aging, or what you don't have, because you don't seem to need anything anymore. do you know this state i am talking about? it is the bubble.
the thing about bubbles, though, is that their beauty is brief. bubbles don't last. bubbles pop.
they always pop. it is in their nature! and yet, we are usually startled when it happens, because we can never quite know exactly when it is going to happen. kids and dogs deal with this much better than we do, as adults. they don't wait for the damn things to pop, they just go around and pop them as fast as they can, knowing that it is better to take control of fate!
why is it that as we grow to be adults we so often lose so much vital wisdom?
recently, a bubble popped in my life. i did not want it to pop, but i knew it would pop eventually. still, i carried on as if it wouldn't, as if it would continue to float into infinity. as understandable as it may be that i had this wish, it is nonetheless a foolish fantasy. a better policy would have been to enjoy the bubble, knowing that it would pop, and that there would be something else after the bubble, but also knowing that it is possible to blow more bubbles. actually, the latter is the policy that i have since taken, and this is the difference between my experience now, and what usually happened when i was younger. in the past, i used to believe that there would never be any more bubbles once they popped. it was as sad as it sounds.
leaving the bubble now is still sad, but not as sad as never entering one. the thing about safety (never entering the bubble) is that it can be deadening. i look at my life, and i marvel that i have spent most of it as a single man, while so many of the guys i know are the exact opposite, spending very little time in singledom and going mostly from one relationship right into another. that is very much NOT me. i don't know if it is because i actually LIKE my single life (i do!), or because i am not willing to settle for less than what i want, or because i just am not capable, but i do know that i have experienced more bubbles in my life than the average joe.
several of the blogs that i read are written by gay men in long term relationships, and it strikes me as curious that so many of them start posts with a variation on this phrase:
"nothing exciting is going on and there is nothing to report."they often write of the routine of being with a long term partner, not in a begrudging way, but just as a matter of fact. there doesn't appear to be too many bubbles floating in or out of their stable, routine lives. in contrast, my life has practically been a fucking bubble machine! though the bubbles have slowed down as i have gotten older, as least i can still count on one or two from time to time. and i can with certainty report that bubbles are fantastic! there is nothing like the bubble. but bubbles pop! still, can't help but wonder if these long term couples know something that i don't know?? is there a different kind of bubble than the ones i have chased after my whole life?
i think about these long term couples. i think about them a lot. i don't think it is an accident that my private psychotherapy practice is focused on gay couples. long term couples fascinate me. so many of the couples i see have long since left the bubble, but there is still something keeping them together (besides the conflict that they often share with me). what is that "something"? am i capable of providing that to another man? will i ever attract another man who is capable of providing that to me?
only in love do we seem to regret the brevity of the bubble. in most instances, we accept transitory pleasurable experiences; this happens when we are eating, watching television, having sex, getting a massage, or getting tickled. we know it is going to stop, and though we may not want it to do so, we accept it with relatively little resistance. this is not the case with the love bubble, especially when it is early, new love. perhaps this is because there is no way that eating, television, sex, massage, or tickling can hold up to the way the love bubble feels. not even close!
i miss this recent bubble, and this time it seemed ever so brief. but not all is lost. even though the icing is gone, there still may be cake left. i will have to do some investigation about this, and in the meantime, i think i will reload my bubble blower.
if you want to hear the bubble described musically, you can't do any better than this version of "you don't know what love is", sung by the exquisite cassandra wilson and her peerless musicians. unless you have experience the bubble, then you just don't know what love is...