I was storming through the house, burning from some inner fire whose proximate source wasn’t clear to me, or anyone else— ultimately, born of frustration at my day-to-day search for a job, a challenge proving fruitless. And, unfortunately, directed at the person who brought me here, R.
I wasn’t being mean, I was just not being me. I wasn’t kind. I wasn’t gentle. I wasn’t laughing or smiling. I was brusque and distracted. R left the kitchen, where I was chopping garlic with a focused fury and headed to put on some music to calm the tension.
Moments later, Emily Saliers’ voice cut through the garlic haze, crooning “Least Complicated”, one of my early and lasting musical favorites. Swamp Ophelia, an Indigo Girls album filled with songs and lyrics that weave a history of my life; growing up, experiencing love and loss, and becoming who I am, sang out from our stereo. R’s album. My life. (In an abbreviated and poeticized form— articulated so much better than I ever could.)
As I sung along with the words, the tension eased out of me, garlic chopping turned to slicing, and I fell in love with R all over again. To know me is to know that Swamp Ophelia will pacify the eruptive fury of my soul.
I have been less than direct in my mission of writing about love on this blog, but as I walked home from an interview today the song Free in You came on my ipod. I was in a good mood. The interview went well. The cosmos aligned in my favor momentarily. As I listened to it, all I could think of was my life right here, right now.
I have been in love before. Deeply. I walked away from it, in one of the more difficult decisions of my life. I won’t say I never looked back. I did. Plenty. Perhaps one of the reasons I have held back some of my writings about love in its specifics rather than its abstractions on this blog, was a fear that I was treading into a dangerous and exposed world in publicizing my feelings.
Well, today I am going there. The song Free in You (video above) perfectly describes how I feel about R. Love as I once knew it, was like a drug addiction, with sailing highs and torturous lows. Love as I know it now, is an altogether different being. I may be unemployed, unsure where I fit into the new world I inhabit, and tentative about my next steps, but I do know how I feel about the man by my side in my confusion. I am proud of him, I love him, and I want to do what is right by him. I want him to stick around. Sometimes I wonder what he sees in the human-shaped chaos that is me, but he reminds me that he sees me. He sees the things I consider weakness and he loves them too. He believes we deserve each other and happiness.
How he knows so much and articulates it so well when I need to hear it most, blows my mind. I sometimes believe he is a sage from a different universe, sent here to teach me how to be a better person. But, then I see that his light shines on other people— cab drivers, coworkers, people in the running club he started, and I know that I am kidding myself if I think that he’s here just for me. He is here to set the bar for personhood. If we all strive to be like R, the world will be a better place.
I recently came across this letter, from John Steinbeck to his son.
He says this about love: “Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it. The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.”
And so today, I am glorying in, and being grateful for what I have. And daily, I try to live up to it.