Here’s a joke:
A little while ago — a time that feels at once sharply present and mistily distant — my partner and I broke up. I’ve been commenting on Twitter since then that the director of my life has gone into full hack overdrive. Your hero walked out of his office to see that ex’s name plastered on the side of a bus, for example. Anyone watching this in the cinema would roll their eyes at the heavy-handedness of the symbolism.
We had a comfortable life, they and I. We had a cat. We had good jobs in similar industries. We were complimentary, and we were complementary. Something changed though: they were thinking about settling down; about the prospect of children; about roots.
I can’t stand the idea. I’m not interested in children, and I don’t think it would be a good thing for someone who isn’t interested in having children to have them. I don’t want that much commitment: I like being able to upend my life. I want to move to Canada for a little while, and maybe live in Europe again. So that was that.
It’s funny, though. Because now they’ve not got a partner, they’ve taken a job that could involve a lot of international travel and will propel them upwards. And me? I’ve started learning their mother tongue with a more serious bent than I ever did when we were together, and I’m interviewing for ever more senior things. We’re —honestly, you’ll laugh — we’re more attractive to each other now than ever before.
Isn’t that funny? Together, what we want is incompatible. Apart, we’re precisely what the other wants.
Like I said: it’s a joke.
I didn’t say it was funny, though.