Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Important Detail

A very long time ago in the full strength of pride and youth I was engaged to be married. It is a period of my life which I have largely ignored not because it was particularly undesirable or unsettling but because it happened and ended so precipitously. To remove all curiosity about the affair I can report that I and the lady to whom I was engaged continue to be on no less civil terms than we ever were - though admittedly now with a huge gap of time between us. And yes the reason for the dissolution of the engagement was that I am a member of the committee.  Otherwise it was an alliance of perfection - at least from my point of view. But as with so many other tales of romance it was not to be.

It is impossible to speak of the association without an element of regret.  It flared up and extinguished in an extraordinarily short time.  It has nonetheless the singular character of being the only meaningful relationship I have ever had which stopped for the right reasons. Strangely however I have never counted the event among my other life-altering decisions. Perhaps part of the reason is that nothing really changed in my life - although obviously a great deal changed in our lives. My view of the modification is that it was the right thing to do, for us both. If I have any lingering commiseration it arises from what was likely a painful interlude for my friend who unfortunately for her was at the time far removed from family and friends.  On the other hand we all know that knowledge and experience invariably come at a cost; and as distorted as the venture may have been there were undoubtedly advantages.

It has often diverted me to imagine how different my life would have been had I not changed directions. There may have been unsurpassable deceit; there may have been tolerable pretence.  It is false to presume complete fiction notwithstanding the apparent incongruity of the parties.  I have for example known more than one relationship founded upon unspoken ignorance. What prevails on any analysis is the question whether the triumph is the interests of the parties or some exterior motive.  I have never been one to succumb to the opinion of others (though I willingly confess I may seek the approbation of others). In simple terms, I am a bad liar.  More exactly I cannot stomach a lie. I hasten to exclude from that pietistic observation the so-called "little white lie". There are limits to my familiarity with flawlessness.

The inspiration for this reminiscence seems to be the result of a possible convention later this summer with another law school companion when we plan a trip to the East Coast. That friend took me under his wing when I first landed in Nova Scotia from Upper Canada (Toronto).  He subsequently included me in his wedding party.  His wife and my former fiancĂ©e were friendly as well.  I have never felt totally comfortable having eroded the erstwhile alliance which existed among us all but I have enough sustaining confidence in the foresight of my law school crony to trust that he accepts my disruptive behaviour. Meanwhile I maintain the dignity of rectitude at all costs. It would have been a far greater perversion to have continued the arrangement for strictly social purposes.

Fifty years after the fact the projection of our respect lives continues to spellbind me. Though I have no tangible proof of the assertion I unhesitatingly believe that if were all together again today it would be as though nothing had changed. I speak of course of our private thoughts. Certainly the paths of adventure on all sides have been varied and in some instances remarkable. But the essence of the actors is imperturbable. I suspect too that the magnets which once drew us together likewise align.

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