Finding Mr. Perfect!
An excerpt from The Lullaby Illusion by Susan Joyce
In 1978, I visited the Isle of Capri with a doctor friend. She was attending a psychology conference and hoping while there she would meet Mr. Perfect. One who would fall madly in love with her and impregnate her. More than anything else, she longed for a child before her biological clock stopped ticking. I was there for inspiration for my next art exhibit. My old wedding ring, which I wore to discourage men from flirting was doing the exact opposite. So I lent her my wedding ring and it worked magic for her in bars. Many men invited her to dance.
But with each passing day, Marti expressed disappointment in not finding the perfect man yet.
“What about the guy at the conference?” I asked one evening, while we sat drinking at a club bar.
“I haven’t seen him again. He vanished.”
“You obviously have never been married, or you wouldn’t be looking so hard,” I told her. “It doesn’t happen when you’re looking for it. Chances are Mr. Right is someone you already know and like. A friend maybe. Someone with similar interests. Probably not someone you’ll meet on vacation in a bar. If you want a child, why not adopt one? Motherhood is not defined by DNA. There are lots of children who need good homes. As a doctor with a good income, you’d qualify to adopt.”
“It’s easy for you to say because you’ve been married, and been pregnant.”
“And been divorced,” I added.
“You’re content now. But will you feel happy when you’re fifty or sixty, and all alone?”
“I don’t buy into someone else being responsible for my happiness. I could have a child and a man in my life, and still be unhappy. Maybe even miserable.”
After another drink, Marti told me about her first love. At age 19, she got pregnant and had an abortion. The timing wasn’t right. She was in university studying hard to become a doctor, and having a child didn’t fit into her life plans. All these years later, she regretted her decision.”
“I’m sure you made the best decision at that point in your life. If you’re meant to have a child, it’ll happen. Things happen for a reason. To everything there is a season.”
Marti smiled. “I know you’re right. You’re giving me the same advice I give my patients in therapy.”
A man interrupted our conversation and asked Marti if she’d like to dance.
“No grazie,” Marti replied.
“Why didn’t you dance with him?” I asked.
“I didn’t want to. I’m enjoying our conversation. How many times were you pregnant?” Marti asked.
“Six, seven. I stopped counting.”
“That must have been heartbreaking,” Marti said.”
“No, it felt good to stop counting.”
She smiled, and asked, “Do you still long for a child?”
“No. I’m content with my life. If I’m meant to be a mother, it’ll happen. But in the meantime, I’m living my life to its fullest.”
The wedding ring seemed to work magic. By night’s end, Marti had danced with most of the men in the tavern.
The next evening, Marti came back from the conference all excited. “The mystery man has reappeared. We’re meeting for dinner.”
“Mr. Potentially Perfect?” I asked, smiling.
“Potentially.” Marti smiled. “And he’s quite handsome.”
I spent the evening in, alone, enjoying another spectacular sunset.
Drifting off to sleep, I saw myself sitting in a rocking chair, holding a child and rocking her to sleep. I lulled us into dreamland by whispering loving words to comfort and quiet.
I stroke your cheek and hold you close, this moment now—divine.
And for this fleeting moment, I touch your head to mine.
I whisper, I shall miss you child, for you I’ll always long.
The Lullaby Illusion—life’s illusive song.
The next morning, the words were stuck in my head. All day long, I tossed them about, saying them out loud, wondering why they came to me as they did in a dream.
Not wanting to forget, I wrote the words on a piece of paper taken from a note pad sitting on the desk. The irregular star shape on the pad looked like a piece of a puzzle, waiting to be put in place.
Ah-ha! I thought. The puzzle is solved.
"Toward the end of our Capri vacation, I chose again to stay in alone one evening and watch the moon rise over the water. I marveled as it changed from yellow, to orange, to gold, to white and on to pure shimmering light. I did a sketch and made notes of the colors needed to capture the magic of moonlight over the sea.
By the end of the holiday, I had several sketches ready to become final paintings for my next exhibit.
Marti had become quite cozy with the handsome Canadian psychologist she met at the conference, and was working on getting him to visit her in Frankfurt.
En route home, from Naples to Frankfurt, I thanked her for suggesting I accompany her. “I’m inspired as an artist and I made a childhood dream come true.”
“And I met my potential Mr. Perfect,” Marti said, smiling. “He said he’ll visit me later this year.”
“Does he know you’re single?” I pointed to the gold wedding ring on her finger.
“Yes. When I told him about your trick, he said you’re a natural.”
“A natural what?”
“Psychologist,” she said, handing me the ring.
“Human behavior is interesting to observe. But I suspect the wedding ring trick only works with Italian men—who want a fling. No commitment.”