Love changes. Love can fade, love can break. It is not a solid and reliable commodity like a chair or a pair of slippers. For the lucky ones it may blossom and grow like a carefully tended orchid but for many of us, love withers to indifference or even hate. There is rarely the happily ever after ending promoted in the fairy tales of childhood.
Love is a four letter word sometimes used to camouflage abuse.
Like many survivors of childhood trauma I am accustomed to losing people who once promised to love and protect me. They often disappear from my life very suddenly and I am left with a few random souvenirs, a few photographs. I have become adept at dealing with loss. On the surface at least, I appear to let go, move on, retreat within my own defences, working harder to protect myself from future pain and disappointment. Many of my relationships end at my own choosing. I am expert at constantly scanning and evaluating for potential cracks in the shiny glaze of love and friendship. And the more you look for lies and betrayal the more likely you are to find them. So perhaps my relationships are doomed from the start. I am unable to live with the compromises and blind spots other people seem to cultivate within marriage, the smoke and mirrors of romance. I prefer reality, even if it hurts.
I have realised I am happier with just my cat for company. If you want true love and loyalty, get yourself a pet. But for some strange reason I hang on to a few random souvenirs of past loves.
This cup is an example. My second husband left it behind. I’m not sure why I keep it. I’m usually ruthless at decluttering but for some reason I retain this piece of ethnic pottery. My ex-husband bought it in Crete when he was on holiday with his previous wife. I’ve never been to Crete and never likely to go in the future. I always felt threatened by John’s continued friendship with his first wife. They had cosy dinners and trips to the cinema, just the two of them even though she had also remarried. When I complained of their intimacy he accused me of being small-minded. It was one of the many reasons our marriage ended. There was no trust.
When we split up, we bickered over custody of the Art Deco sofa and the Bruce Springsteen albums. We had several meetings on a bench in a public park to talk things through. I was afraid to be alone with him in private. The rustic pottery, a relic from his earlier marriage was forgotten.
The cup and saucer once resided on the slate mantlepiece of the house we shared in rural Yorkshire. Now it’s on the top shelf of a glass display cabinet in my Scottish kitchen. It’s a chunky type of pottery with a rough, matt glaze, probably hand thrown. Uncomfortable to hold or drink out of. It’s a piece of tourist bric-brac, not useful, just for show. A piece of fakery. And perhaps that’s why I keep it, it’s a reminder that romantic love is not real, that I’m better alone.