When I was 16, I dated a Mormon guy – let’s call him Glen. Glen was one of four Mormons I dated (not all at the same time, of course – I think the Mormons reserve that privilege for the men, and only in marriage) and he was an ambitious guy, already taking coursework at the University, for example, even though he was still a senior. Another of his ambitions was to find himself someone who’d make good wife material. How it was that he saw that in me I do not know.
We did the usual dating things, going to movies, going to dances, hanging out and the like. Occasionally he’d ask me if I finally felt we’d dated long enough to consider him my desired life partner and I’d look askance at him and we’d move on to another topic.
One day, Glen showed up with a couple of his friends and said they were heading down the street to shoot some baskets and would I like to join them. My non-prowess at basketball is legendary in some parts, and I declined on account of cramps. But I said I’d come and watch anyway.
A well-kept secret, nestled among stories about PMS, bloating, and cramps, is that another hormonal experience can occur in women that, while infrequent and unreliable, confers upon a woman a feeling of serenity and calm that rivals that embodied by the Dalai Lama. As it happens, I was having just such a nirvana experience that day. So rather than bristle at finding myself in the female-observer-to-male-action role (which normally would have led to my either joining them or leaving), I sat at the edge of the basketball court and watched the guys play and posture. I was blissed out, in love with the deep ping of the ball, the screech of sneakers that came to a halt and pivoted, the slick sheen of the sweat, and, even, with Glen. From this place of Big Love, I realized maybe I should marry him.
Simultaneous to being blissed out, I had the awareness that I was. And I realized this serene feeling was absent 99.999999999999999% of the time in my relationships with boys. It’s not that these relationships were contentious exactly. But they were often fraught with uncertainty, resistance, calculation, and angst. Now, I was weepy with relief that this usual burden had lifted. I felt I would give anything to stay in this sweet, compliant, loving state. Sure I’d become more boring as a result, but it would be worth it.
I could understand spiritual seekers who dedicated themselves to years of meditation or yoga just to increase the odds of spending more time in this place. I had compassion for the drug takers who only wanted, just one more time, to feel this warm absence of striving and presence of the All.
Sad to say, the chemical cocktail lifted eventually, to return only at its whim and not nearly often enough. I went back to my usual state of being, something more familiar to me, edgier and weightier. Time passed and I broke up with Glen – or he broke up with me, I can’t remember which – and he went on to become a 2012 presidential hopeful.