Some of my friends are extremely happy to be alone. They live their lives without a care in the world, no commitments, no obligations, no expectations.
I’m not so sure that’s the life for me.
I enjoy the shared experience. I like doing things together and making memories with someone else. It’s the Explorer in me.
One of my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother recounts the quest for the perfect burger. Maybe it’s because I love burgers. Maybe it’s because Husband #2 makes the perfect burger. Maybe it’s because we loved going out for burgers… In this particular episode of HIMYM, the group of friends search high and low to find a small, hidden restaurant that produces a burger better than any other. Marshall’s description is sublime:
Just a Burger? Just a burger. Robin, it’s so much more than “just a burger.” I mean…that first bite — oh, what heaven that first bite is. The bun, like a sesame freckled breast of an angel, resting gently on the ketchup and mustard below, flavors mingling in a seductive pas de deux. And then…a pickle! The most playful little pickle. Then a slice of tomato, a leaf of lettuce and a…a patty of ground beef so exquisite, swirling in your mouth, breaking apart, and combining again in a fugue of sweets and savor so delightful. This is no mere sandwich of grilled meat and toasted bread, Robin. This is God, speaking to us in food.
Throughout the episode many eateries are visited but none lives up to the promise. At each restaurant, a photo of Regis Philbin graces the wall. It turns out Regis is also searching for the elusive perfect burger.
Looking at the two groups, I gravitate to the shared experience of 5 people locked on to a single purpose. They embark on a scavenger hunt of sorts, with restaurants falling by the wayside. At the end of the quest, they have a memory that each can hold and share. Their stories will start out with the phrase, “Remember that night we went looking for the perfect burger?”
Conversely, Regis has a lonely quest. He is a party of one. No one else will fully understand his frustrations or eventual joy since they were not first person witnesses to the journey. Regis will tell a listener the story, condensed down to fit a few minutes, and there may be understanding and laughter, but it is not the shared human experience. The level of involvement will stop at a shallower level than someone who was a living participant in the story.
I want to be the person who says, “Remember that time we….” and then laugh, cry, shake my head with another person. Creating memories together is one of the joys of growing old. It’s one of my golden nuggets in a relationship. And finding the perfect burger along the way will be an added bonus.