By Alyssa Velazquez
Elm Staff Writer
An idea, like a dream, has a source. We may never realize the source, but once it is there, it is virtually indispensable.
Mary Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein,” illustrates the condition in which she conceived its storyline within the novel’s introduction: “I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed, and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with vividness far beyond the usual bonds of reverie.”
Awake or asleep, propelled by her conscious or subconscious, Shelley could not tell, nor accurately inform her readers to the source of her literary inspiration. But there it was. It had been an idea that had taken shape; like a dream with no beginning, there was no distinctive time or place that could characterize the idea.
“Idea” is a noun coupled commonly with “I,” “have,” “liked,” and “loved;” it is used as an end to a means. In relationships, rarely do we ever like to either think of endings or imagine an end. An idea in a relationship exists only in the beginning. In the in-between, we stay with that idea, and more often than not the relationship slowly develops symbiotically with the orphaned idea.
A few years ago, I had a good friend who had become jaded from all the relationships that she saw on a day-to-day basis. I can remember her looking up one couple in particular with almost-idolizing admiration. The married couple was very close friends of her family and their son was her best friend. They had grown up together, and they had seen each other go through puberty, high school, and various significant others.
Year after year, however, the two best friends began to drift apart; adulthood was forcing them to realize things about each other that was damaging to their friendship, and now it seemed only the mothers kept in contact.
One night, my friend was at a relative’s home for a family barbecue when she received a call from a mutual friend asking if she had heard about the accident. I remember her telling me sometime after that night that the whole world went mute in that moment. Nothing more than white noise was coming from her cell phone, and although she could see all the faces slowly surround her, she could no longer remember who they were.
She and her family rushed to the hospital. They didn’t know what they were rushing toward. They didn’t know that they would be the first ones there. They didn’t know that they would sit in a hospital waiting room for an entire night only to hear the two words no one ever wants to hear within the walls of an emergency room: “I’m sorry.”
I stayed up with my friend for many nights after that. Never did she permit me to see her cry; she wouldn’t let anyone see her cry. She had to be strong, if not just for herself, then for everyone else.
The problem was, she had not only lost a second mother, she had lost her idea. It was only months after the fact that she could confide in me all the horrible information that had been brought to light after the accident–the most damaging of all these being that the relationship that she had looked up to, the marriage which she had fashioned her future on, was a lie.
The remaining years of her idol wife and husband were full of infidelity, verbal abuse, and a loss of compassion; in the end, she lost her hope. She had believed in them.
Now, years after the fact, my friend and I occasionally revisit this period of time, because now she can talk, cry, and confront the very idea that had covered up the reality, which is the same process that so many of us go through at one point or another.
In my life, I have been gifted with an array of beautiful and strong women as my friends, and even though each and every one of them has the strength of twelve angry men, never have I, in a conversation regarding a partnership, not heard the sentence: “I liked the idea of it.”
Yet what is it about an idea that holds so much power over a relationship–especially since an idea is associated with rationality? You would think the idea would have our back. Relationship ideas, not to be confused with an ideal (that’s a whole other ball of wax) propel us into something, or keep us stationary. Nevertheless, like thoughts in a dream, we eventually wake up from them.
My close friend has had a hard time permitting any relationship ideas to be entertained since the above mentioned accident and as a consequence she has sat at an array of tables for one.
Any thought once implanted can be dangerous. Yes, dangerous. Or wonderful. Or simply agonizing and superfluous. Whatever their description may be, when those types of relationships finally come to an end at least we will know the source of the problem: we permitted ourselves to dream. And isn’t that the idea of it all