Oh, those French tenses! Imperfect, simple future, future perfect… If only life were that easy!
I heard from a 40-year old colleague recently, about her upcoming remarriage. It got me thinking about pasts perfect and imperfect, present imperatives, and futures – of all sorts.
And then of course – ghosts of marriage past.
The woman I heard from is smart, talented, and lovely. Hubby-to-be is a happy man, because the fact is, this energetic single mom has had other beaus since a brief marriage in her 20s, and plenty of time to figure out who she is and what she wants.
To make matters better, she’s known an amicable relationship with her ex, as they’ve cooperatively co-parented for many years.
Past and present
What’s important here is that both the divorce and post-divorce relationship did not sour either party on love, or the notion of commitment. No past is perfect, but theirs – with regard to the present and future – has been perfectly reasonable.
I wonder if “reasonable” isn’t the perfect goal, the one to strive for in dealing with exes, particularly when children are involved.
Some of us labor under more grueling grammars – financial, emotional, and logistical. It’s like an implicit body of rules that we internalize, and it’s anything but agreeable. In fact, we’re left leery of any kind of conjugation, much less remarriage. We’ve been dealing with the Undead – dogged by dark shadows and morose markers of what went wrong.
And rattle my chains if those damnable exes don’t keep rising from the grave like Zombies! We’re nailed to their netherworld, even if we’d like to leap beyond the imperfect past.
A passionate present
So how can you envision a future when your present is tied to a painful past? Can you turn the imparfait into the passé composé – in other words – can you transform the still connective past to the done deal? Or if required, the passé simple – a tense which is expressly used for the dead?
With children, the past is always bound to the future. That is our privilege, our responsibility, and for some – a cross to bear. Personally, I’d content myself with a passionate present. In fact, I find it increasingly imperative – for all of us. We need a way to live in the NOW – whatever it may take – even if it includes straddling former lives, messy marriages, present emotions, and uncertain futures.
Future – perfect?
For those who’ve survived the worst of marriage, divorce, and the aftermath, there’s no such thing as a simple future. Our conjugal relations aim for a passable present, that can no doubt be “simply” wonderful.
Past imperfect – does it necessarily mean future conditional?
Or is that really the case anyway?