I'm still plowing through "Of Human Bondage". It's a great read, but I'm not the world's fastest reader, and I've also had to do a lot of reading for work in the past few days which has taken me away from the book. Which sucks, because it's really good. Philip, now in medical school, has fallen into an obsessive love with a waitress named Mildred. I tell you, Maugham is really good with characters...the main characters are so intricately portrayed, and even the incidental characters are all well drawn and quite vivid. But where was I...oh yes, obsessive love. Philip falls for a waitress, I mean falls hard, and it ain't good. Mildred is thin, anemic, and impressively manipulative...but Philip has to take half the blame because he falls for it so completely. He falls for Mildred, showers her with love, and she's oh so obviously half-hearted about the poor guy. Then she runs off with a married man that Philip has been seeing her flirt with, and that looks like the end. So Philip then starts seeing Norah, a divorced woman, who showers him with love and affection. Philip and Norah really have an intellectual connection, which he most definitely did NOT have with Mildred, and she's so good and loving to him. But of course, Mildred comes back, pregnant and dumped by the married guy, and Philip immediately drops poor Norah and spends all of his not-so-abundant savings to help out Mildred. Mildred readily accepts this, and again half-heartedly starts seeing Philip again, but is quick to dump him for a friend of Philip's. Yet Philip is not blameless, for when he realizes that Mildred and the friend are interested in one another, he throws them together and pushes it. This guy is seriously masochistic. I mean, Mildred takes advantage of him, and Philip not only turns a blind eye to this, but seems to relish it in a way. Why is that?
The thing is that all this reminds me of a couple of past relationships I've been in myself. Relationships where I've been way more into someone than they've been into me. And it's true that when you're really into someone and they sometimes seem like they're into you, but more often are passive or hostile, it makes you want them all the more, or at least it makes the feelings more intense when they do seem to return you're love for a moment. The mixture of pain and pleasure is intoxicating, and not really in a good way. I mean, from what I've read heroin is also intoxicating, and feels really, really good, but only for a bit...then it really, really hurts. Well, same idea. Having been in healthy, mutually loving relationships since then, I know this, but poor Philip does not share this knowledge, so he can't back away and look at his relationship with Mildred and say "Back off, bitch, I'm outta here"...even though I long for him to say that.
Unrequited love sucks. I wish I'd read this book 25 years ago...it might have saved me a lot of trouble. Well, actually, probably not. It's most likely something you need to figure out by living every sucky moment.
Anyway, Mildred is now gone, but I expect she'll return before this thing ends. Stay tuned...