Last night I dreamt of Manistee. More accurately, I dreamt of a place that didn’t look a bit like the Manistee I recall (more like Manistee in The African Queen would have looked) but was Manistee nonetheless. In my dream, I was still married, for the first time, to a man who, perhaps, did not deserve my disdain. Or perhaps he did, it was a long time ago. We were on a ferry in sloppy water, it seemed like a sinking ship but I discovered the water on deck was only puddles from the cars driving on and off.
This morning, I thought a little about unrequited love and the pain that it causes. I have loved men who have not loved me the way that I wanted to be loved, who have refused to meet my expectation of what love should be. There have been some unhappy moments but nothing that permanently colored my world.
I’ve been involved in symbiotic entanglements where there was a small amount of love and an enormous amount of confusion; two drowning souls trying to keep afloat without pushing the other one under. There have been failed alliances resulting from socio-economic disparity and romantic defeats caused by contradictory dreams and ambitions.
There was a time when I could not rise to any expectations so I chose a like-minded companion. At the end, I looked contemptuously down my nose as if to say, “You will never be good enough for me. There isn’t a thing you can do to improve your chances so don’t waste your time.” Not that I had a grand opinion of myself but I demanded at least a display of integrity and self-worth. I didn’t realize enthusiasm for living would return to me. When it did, I felt trapped. I had to free myself, regardless of the carnage.
The man in Manistee remarried. When we parted we struck a deal- whoever wanted to remarry first would pay for the divorce. I didn’t rush. He has been happily (optimistic assumption) married 34.2 times longer than he was married to me. I have been married to my husband 27.5 times longer than I was married the first time. The dream ended when the ferry docked. I was relieved to get off the boat.