My partner and I are a powerful force. And we struggle greatly. If you were to meet us you would probably see a deep love and a ferocious sense of mutual protection and desire for the other to be happy. You might also notice we quibble over small insignificant things. We both want to be right.
If you were a fly on the wall of our lives you would see the range of human potential: the ugly and the magical, the dull and the extraordinary. If you were a neighbour, I’m deeply sorry for the ugly. Can I bake you some cookies?
We have been together for four years. On some days we tell a story to ourselves that we broke our relationship early, that we had no business getting together in the first place, that lines, once crossed, can never be uncrossed. On others we tell a story full of gratitude for the healing journey we are both on, together and separately.
Two days before our four-year anniversary we almost broke up. I surrendered. I stopped trying to be right, stopped going to the oh-so-young fears around abandonment and survival and listened instead with as much love as I could muster. My inner five year old needed me to just stop and trust.
Two days later we had one of the best anniversaries dates we’d ever had.
The next day we looked at all the old pictures of us. You know, the ones you take when you are falling in love and just have to take awkward pictures of yourselves kissing. We watched years of our lives go by in the course of an hour. The weight-gain of one our cats was one of the most surprising things we saw.
As each new vacation spot flashed before our eyes we remembered that fight we had where we didn’t sleep but still managed, for example, to have fun watching Rick Mercer play with the sheep in Louisburg. Or how we loved that place in Elora we stayed in despite another lost night’s sleep. I got her to taste really good olive oil on that trip and ever since then, well, let’s just say you would like our salads.
When we got to the pictures of Michigan Music Festival, she asked me, “Did we fight there?”
I said, “no, but we fought getting there and almost didn’t make it.”
“Right,” she said. And then we smiled and talked about how alive we were that week and watched a little video we made of our favourite sign language interpreter at one of the concerts.
Included in these photos is a series of one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. I was furious at her at the time. I sat and watched that sunset with tears in my eyes at least ten feet away. When I got to those pictures I wanted to look away. They are so stunning but I still couldn’t look at them.
She said, “No, you should use them. Write about how we fought our way through it all but are still smiling. That we can laugh about it now.”
You see, the stories we’ve been telling, well, they matter. But here’s the thing, sometimes you forget the details and lump everything together. Life’s not like that. And there is always the opportunity for revision.
From now on I will look at those sunset photos and remember how she showed me to see them differently. To see us differently. And that’s seriously better than any sunset.