the problem with stories

In stories, everything happens for a reason. In stories, when everything is perfect, it really is, and when everything goes wrong for no reason, that's because, in the end, everything will be okay. The real world doesn't conform to narrative structure. In the real world sometimes everything goes from perfect to terrible and it just stays that way.

Like the story about the guy who fell in love with a girl right after the worst summer of his life,
and she helped him out and they became fast friends and then they started dating and then he proposed and it's coming up on four years now, but it still feels like only yesterday, and they have the whole world to look forward to.

Only sometimes he doesn't meet the girl and he never gets over that summer, or he does but on his own, or because eventually he just snapped and decided to stop caring. Or he does meet the girl but they have a fight and never talk to each other again, or he gets afraid that it's going to be the same as last time and dumps her so he doesn't have to put up with the pain. Sometimes he meets the girl and still doesn't get over it because he's so lost in himself and his own world.

But the whole time he's looking for stories. He knows how the stories go. They start like this and then this happens and then it all works out. Somehow he thinks no matter what he does the story continues and works out in the end. Then he makes a bad decision without thinking and suddenly that matters and suddenly that's the only decision he's ever made. So he wonders if it could have been different or if it's like a story and could only have been that way--and he can never quite remember that life doesn't work like that.

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