I’ve been thinking a lot about commitment lately, mostly because I’m realizing how averse I am to the concept as a whole right now, and partly because of lunch boy.
Commitment is nice and good and in a lot of ways it's what makes the planet turn. In an ideal world, the ability to commit goes hand in hand with responsibility, maturity, faithfulness and duty. In relationships, commitment is key. It’s sort of what makes a relationship a relationship. Commitment is a choice, a risk, a creation of vulnerability, a decision that must be adhered to or the whole concept goes out the window. Depending on the moment, commitment can be freeing and wonderful, or boring and claustrophobic. Either way, it’s part of being an adult.
The importance of commitment was pounded into my head at an early age by my mother who, when she wasn’t busy chasing me around the house with makeup or nylons in her hand, made sure I knew that I had to do what I said I’d do, follow through on my promises (even when it meant I ended up mowing the neighbor’s lawn when I really wanted to be reading on the back porch), and to feed the cat when he needed food rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
Sometimes commitment can bite you in the ass. People leave. Things end. And still you have to live your life.
When I was in sixth grade, a girl in my class was killed in a car crash. I was supposed to babysit the night I learned about her death—-a commitment I had made several weeks before. My mother refused to let me cancel, even though the last thing in the world I wanted to do was chase a bratty, spoiled kid around his parent’s McMansion for $6 an hour. Dazed and out of it, I went off to babysit, and the kid was just as bratty and unmanageable as I anticipated. Before they’d left for the theater, I had (very responsibly) told the parents about my friend’s death and I let them know that I was not in a super playful frame of mind. They took their son aside and told him to behave. Which of course he did not. At one point, desperate to get my goat, he said, “I bet your friend was ugly and nasty and deserved to die.” Shocked and appalled, I turned around and said (without thinking), “Billy, if you don’t shut up I’m going to smack you.” Yes, he was little and he probably just wanted a reaction, and yes, I should have known better, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. He didn’t shut up and when his parents came home, he ran to them and told them I’d threatened to hit him. I got a call from his mother the next day saying how disappointed she was in me, and how they would no longer be needing my services. My mother apologized to me and said she should have let me stay home.
Thanks to my mom, I used to be queen of commitment. But yesterday I realized that I am now terrified of it. I am afraid to commit to buying furniture for my apartment because having a lot of big possessions makes it harder to fly by the seat of your pants. I’m averse to signing a new lease because it means I can’t just bug out of town if the next winter makes me shriek with misery. I don’t want to look at condos, not just because the amount of money in my savings account would make a broker laugh til they cried, but because I’m afraid of committing to this city, and owning real estate would make it that much more complex if I decided to leave.
I’m always looking for an escape route now.
I think this is why I’ve been so okay with the lunch boy situation. We may click like crazy, we may have a great time together and we may make more sense than most of what comes out of George Bush’s mouth, but even though the risks are obvious, it’s super safe in one really basic way. If he’s involved with someone else, than the entire issue of commitment is off the table. No commitment = no vulnerability = Moxie does not get hurt. Again.
That’s the theory at least. When you’ve progressed to the point where you’re watching Family Guy in your underpants on someone’s couch, vulnerability is definitely part of in the picture.
That’s not to say that I couldn’t commit to him in a girlfriend-free situation. It just means that I’m afraid of it, and I’m acknowledging that fear. My shrink would be so proud.