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
For some reason I woke up this morning thinking about all the ways that my life has changed over the past year. A year is such a short time. 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,765 hours and 525,949 minutes. Well, I suppose when I put it like that it feels like an eternity. The point is: some people don’t accomplish much in one year, but for me this past year did just the opposite. I remember writing on New Years before we were graced with 2013 and I was begging the year to bring me something good. I wanted to be able to rid myself of lingering feelings for that unattainable newspaper reporter and I wanted to find pleasure in simply being me. I wanted to become someone or something that I could be proud of.
While my feels for said reporter lasted longer than I would have liked. I finally found peace with it. I no longer resented him for the way that he unknowingly led me on, or the way that he came to me house to cry over his ex girlfriend. I let it go. I let it all go.
I started to forgive myself for mistake that I had made in the past, and began to think of all of those one night stands/rendezvous as moments to learn from and move past rather than dwell on and feel somehow slutty or tainted.
Friendships with unlikely people began to sprout up in every facet of my life. I didn’t feel embarrassed to invite strangers over or to start spending time with co-workers. It didn’t take long for me realize that everyone is looking for a friend or someone to spend time with. If you make a gesture, it will be returned.
Many evenings in 2012 and early into 2013 I spent with tears in my eyes as I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough. It took a beautiful leather bound journal a new fountain pen, and many evenings tirelessly writing to realize that this wasn’t the case. I was looking at it in the wrong way. I was looking at everything in my life as a measure of self worth. Why was it that when a boy told me he wasn’t ready for a relationship I took that to mean there was something wrong with me? Or, when I misinterpreted signals coming from a friend of mine to mean something more, when they didn’t, I spent days blaming myself for being such an idiot. I was always too hard on myself.
Somewhere over the past year I stopped blaming myself and being so self critical. We are human. We make mistakes. There is no sense persecuting ourselves over them.
I don’t really know where I was going with all of this. But, there it is.
A moment can never be truly candid until thoughts are spewed from the mouth like wildfire, leaving the listener only to be immersed in the delicate delight of honesty. Equivalent to the kodak photographs, an honest word paints the clearest, most accurate picture for the people that we are. It’s not statuesque, it’s not forced, it’s irreparably real.
The world that we live in can only be described as “mechanical.” The ability to be free is there, but people only take those liberties in the comfort of their homes, with the people that we have grown comfortable with. It’s rare that the truest emotions are shared amongst an acquaintance. We live our lives hidden by computer screens and smart phones that we forget the one real act of love doesn’t come from a delicately crafted e-mail or a thoughtful picture posted to someone’s Facebook wall. Real love comes in the form of honest and true, uncensored, unparalleled, can’t believe the words are actually coming out of my mouth, moments.
If we continue to tailor our speech to be eloquent and thoughtful we are only hurting those around us. It’s nonsensical. How will anyone come to terms with who each other are if their identities are being curtained by societal norms.
Break the mechanical boundaries, and whisk aside the drapes. Tell the one you love that you love them.
Love isn’t about losing yourself, it’s about creating a place that you can both dwell, strive, and ultimately find unconventionally sublime bliss, complete with open and honest communication.
Love is such a strange idea.
I used to think that love was a mere falsity created by the media that gave people something to yearn for and ache for, but never truly achieve. For it did not exist, or so I thought. I was so troubled with concept that something couldn’t be defined in words. What do you mean “You just feel it?” That always struck me as too abstract or just too unrealistic. Everything has to be able to be put into words … right?
I remember when I “fell in love” for the first time. I was eighteen years old, and I was whisked off my feet. I became so whisked that my feet were no longer planted firmly on the ground and my head was no longer fastened on tight, but loose and in the clouds. I paid no witness to all the times he told me “change this,” “don’t do that,” “just look at yourself,” etc. I thought that he was looking out for me by making little changes to me. He forced me to become more productive, more type A, and less creative … less me. While he literally pulled the whiskey away from my lips and said “no,” what he was really doing was pressing the whiskey bottle against my lips and saying “drink until you can’t think for yourself anymore.” I was intoxicated under his control, his demands and his lack of mercy. He morphed me into a version of myself that I am still, to this day, ashamed of. A person with no voice, is not a person at all. He took away my voice, and my ability to speak for myself. In my head I would always asked myself why love was so hard, and why love was so demanding, exhausting and physically harming. I asked myself everyday “Why do people want this?”
For two years after that relationship I took time for myself. I had to relearn who I was, because he had taken it with him. Every morning I would wake up, walk to my desk and journal my one goal for that day. Sometimes it was as simple as smile or listen to your favorite song. It seems so silly, looking back, that those were feats for me. But, over time I figured it out. I figured out me. I became an avid yogi, I studied harder than I ever had, I transferred schools, I made new friends, I wrote new music …
… I started over.
All of this brings me to the person that I am today. And also, the person that I am with today. While my first run-in with this undefinable feeling left me face first and ass up in the dirt, this is different. Oh, so very different. He looks at me in a way that I have never been looked at. Even when I look at him from across the room, it’s just us. He has not once asked me to change anything about myself. He embraces me for me, quirks included. And, I hope that he knows that I would do just about anything for him.
I’ve realized that love is not an undefinable feeling, but an act. Every day, we both have to work, reach out to one another and let them know we care. Love is an unconditional act of care, compassion and adoration for another person. It doesn’t cease to exist the moment they frustrate you or test your temper. The underpinnings of love can never fade. I’m happy to say that my feet, with him, are firmly on the ground, my head is fastened and I’m thinking clearly. For I know that everything about this is right. I’m terrified of realizing how open my heart is to him. But there it is.
I know why people want this. It’s intoxicating in the best way possible: a little bit numbing, refreshingly genuine and extremely exhilarating.
Love is strange.