If you are in the market for testing your relationship, why don’t you try being stuck in the car for over 5 hours, and then proceed to spend the entire weekend with your extended family with zero alone time. I must say … he passed. We have been together for nearly two and a half years and this was his first go at meeting the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and the like. I admire his ability to walk into any situation where he knows nothing about anyone and come away with relationships. Me? I’m the kind of person that clings to the people that I know and seldom do I push my social boundaries and talk to someone that I don’t know. When I am around the familiar I dominate conversation and I let my outgoing nature shine. But throw in a few foreign faces and I shrivel in shyness and insecurity. He has a way with people, and a way of making you feel like you have known him for years immediately upon introduction. It wound up being a nice little weekend away with him. As he called it … it was “an adventure.”
This month will mark two years with him.
Two years of patience. Two years of reliance.
This will mark not only the longest, but the most successful and the most meaningful relationship I have ever had. Neither of us have compromised the people that we are for the other. We support, boost, and embrace the people that we are. I love that about us.
People always say that there is peace in solitude. But, these past two years have been the most peaceful of my life. For me, there is peace in companionship. When I am with him the noise of it all kind of falls by the waist side. The noise is still there but it’s muted when we can work through it together.
He isn’t one to be sappy or poetic about our relationship, and if he read this he would probably roll his eyes about every other line … but that’s okay. This is my outlet. He has his. What is important is that together we can still celebrate the two people that we are and have become.
I must say … I am pretty lucky.
This past weekend I sat with friends at my favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Strong margaritas and chips and salsa that keep on coming, hell yes. The long absent Minnesota sun was beating down on my back while we all tossed our hair around and laughed as if we were in an old movie from the 60’s. We gabbed about guys, who is now married to who, recent awestruck-inducing finds from our Facebook news feed, and the like. Shortly thereafter we were greeted by old high school friends that were passing through Minneapolis for the weekend. After a few wobbly tables were pushed together we drank, ate and laughed as if we were just meandering down those high school halls, in those overly self-conscious bodies. When I think about those days it feels like another life … another me. But, for some reason being surrounded by those particular people, I was thrown back.
A couple of far too large margaritas later we were all back at my creaky apartment listening to old records and continuing our drinking bender. It’s funny because since being a college graduate and soon to be finishing my first year of teaching, I like to think of myself as being far wiser than I was in high school. Yet, when I was with those old friends from those days I was the same nervous, “self-doubty” girl I once was. I am proud of the person that I have grown to become and I don’t look illy back upon the person that I once was. That doesn’t mean I want to be her again, however.
I thanked the evening for its brevity. For, what does an overly nervous, over 21-year-old me do? Drink. I’m sure at the point in the evening that I began dancing around my living room was the moment that I started to make a fool of myself.
What I realize now, is that we cannot always escape the people that we were, not because of ourselves, but because of others. We carry on a certain persona with certain people, because we think that’s what they want, or they put a “spell” over us and make us do and say things that we think they want to hear, despite ourselves. Maybe that is why people flee when they want to reinvent themselves. It isn’t so much that a person cannot change on their own, but that the people around them hold them back.
It’s our human failing. Our inability to see things for ourselves while disregarding the sight of others.
We risk denying our true selves by appeasing those who deny us.
I’ve come realize that I’m the kind of person who claims to know a lot about life–and love. So I am gong to continue to assume that I know everything about love … here goes.
I don’t understand those who dive head first into a new relationship with no regard for life they had before, particularly the people that were in their life before. Isn’t it amazing that we give up handfuls of friends for the companionship of one person? Endless evenings drinking wine with your best girlfriends, dancing around the living room in nothing but your underwear with your roommates, rollerblading through the streets of Minneapolis in outfits that would make a carnival act look twice, are all thrown away for the assumption that what you have with this person is going to last you a lifetime. My fondest memories are those that I had with my friends. I have a lifetime of memories with the same people. They aren’t my back burner friends, they aren’t my just-in-case friends, they are my forever people.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the warmth of sleeping next to him body and waking up to a kiss. But even despite my wildest fantasies, I cannot predict the future of this, or what it will become. There is no telling that we will both love each other as fiercely as we do now five years from today, or even five months. It’s all a reflection of love’s precariousness.
A friend of mine started dating someone last summer. He’s a good enough guy and they seem happy. But her life is no longer centered around being their for her friends, something she used to claim was the most important thing to her. Her days now are lived out in the solace of her bedroom with only him to hear her words. It’s all just fucking weird, right? She hasn’t known this person for a year, she is 22, and is moving in with him planning out the rest of their lives together. He has lost all the people he used to call his friends, and her friends are quickly dwindling in numbers. It all seems so lonely.
I can only imagine what my home will look like someday. A small, vine-covered cottage, perhaps? Or one of those alarmingly modern boxes, full of windows, somehow resembling the life of a goldfish? I don’t know the material it will be made out of, or the neighborhood it will reside in. But, I know that I want it to be full. Full of all the people in my life that I love, and that have stuck me through it all. I don’t want to walk through that door and see only one person. I want to see a family of people. People who remind me where I came from, how I’ve grown, and give me comfort that they will be with me for all future days. That’s what I want to see on my way home.
As my students bound about my classroom with enviable pep in their step I am always overwrought with jealousy. They have only just begun. Their whole futures are ahead of them and their options are endless. Despite the fact that I am only 23 I feel as though some of my options and decisions have already passed. My college experience has since retired, my graduate schoolwork is already half-finished and I am well on my way to becoming established in the teaching community. While I still have some monumental decisions left to make, I look upon the freedom of youth with admiration.
These little humans are so resilient and sometimes ignorant to all of life’s cruelties. I just wish I could bottle up their childhood innocence and lock the lid forever. Each year I find myself becoming more cynical and more stubborn, more aloof. The world isn’t as safe as I once imagined it. I often wish I could see the world through their little eyes for just one day, to see again that there is beauty everywhere, and not just heartache.
One of my students passed away this year in a murder-suicide. She and her mother were taken. Her father took himself shortly thereafter. My students handled this horrifying truth with such grace and maturity, of which I am still dumbfounded by. They were able to bandage up their wounds far sooner than I was, and are able to talk about her with smiles and laughter.
As a teacher I am constantly amazed by their brilliance. But, this was the most remarkable of all. Life for them is not yet cruel. Even though they were exposed to the horrors of this world far too young they are still able to see only beauty. For that, I am grateful.
I got to thinking that maybe there is no such thing as “casual” dating or “casual” sex. Can something as intimate as making love really be considered “casual?” When I think “casual” I think of a ripped pair of denim shorts or a lunch date with an old friend. The steamy moments spent between the sheets or in the shower don’t seem to be synonymous with “casual.”
Sure, a girl can kick off her leather boots, strip out of her ripped tights and slither out of her little black dress while jumping into bed with an attractive European all the while convincing herself that the next day it will be more than a simple act of “casual” circumstance.
She will begin reminiscing of the whiskey and waters that were poured, the toasts made to good friends and the very moment he grabbed her waist pulling her on top of him. She will stand in the mirror the next day examining her neck spotting the evidence of last nights rendezvous. And as she stares at her reflection in the mirror she may even begin to convince herself that these “casual” acts could amount to something not so “casual.”
But, while a lady might find that kind of penetrative aggression a sign of lust … or even love it’s always the gents that are a step behind looking for another notch in their belt, or another dent in their bedpost.
Long gone are the days of handwritten love letters to a man out to war. So long are the nights spent pining for the unattainable. Now, it’s an endless stream of one-night-stands and “casual” nothings.
Has love really turned into an undefinable “casual” outing?
Bob Dylan plays on the back of the SNCC office in Greenwood, Mississippi, 1963
Actress Natalie Wood (1938-1981), with actor Michael Caine (b. 1933), date unknown.
Dancers, Mott Haven, August 1979, from the Faces in the Rubble series
A kiss in a bird