Today, like any other day, we wake up emptyand frightened. Don't open the door to the studyand begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.Let the beauty we love be what we do.There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
~Rumi ...translated by Coleman Barks
Notice the date just before the end of the year. We bought our duplex together that year, and when we thought of the complicated tax preparations, we decided to make it a little easier. So many legal documents are rolled up into that one signature. I know, that doesn't sound very romantic. From our point of view, we didn't and don't need that document to forge our commitment and love for each other. I was a little ambivalent about it, thinking of my gay friends who cannot get married and resolve so many legal matters in this way. This morning Steve and I were saying it didn't make much difference to us. In fact, we've never had anybody question our right to speak for each other. All we have to do is say we're married and the doctor will tell all, or the insurance will cover us.
Steve took this photo of us Christmas night. He spent Christmas day with Krissy. He asked me how my day went, and noticed my lack of enthusiasm. I didn't want to say so, but I'd been feeling lonely. I didn't want him to feel bad about spending Christmas Eve with me, and Christmas day with Krissy. In the end, I was glad I confessed, because allowing the words to come out, I realized my pain was about something deeper than that. I'd meant to do so much more on my vacation, and I missed him that day as a distraction from the things I didn't do. Also, we were going back to work the next day. His sabbatical over, we'd have no more relaxed days together, very few chances to dine out for breakfast. Thus the look.
As he left for work today, Steve said, "Don't spend all day reading a sad book of poetry." He'd seen the book in my hand, Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love and Revelation.
I said, "It's about love!"
He said, "And poems about love are sad. At least bittersweet."
In a way he was right. Poems about love, or more especially about revelation, are about death. This will all go away.
I don't see it as sad, though death still scares me even after 20 years of a Buddhist practice. I see it as a reminder to let my divinity shine.
I'm not doing that when I'm wallowing in loneliness because I'm seeking distraction from inertia. Sometimes I escape in reading, as Rumi cautions against. Often I escape in TV. I watched way too many Christmas movies this year, even though there are only a few types: Santa (Miracle on 34th St), Love (A Holiday Affair), A Christmas Carol, and It's a Wonderful Life. I suppose I could include a magical category, but those can usually fall into those other types. At least all those holiday movies were uncomplicated fun, and always had a happy ending.
On February 7 it will be our 10th anniversary of the day we first met. For me, it was love within a couple of days. Steve declared love a few days after that, but admitted a few years later that he was slow to feel his was a deeper love. He is careful like that. It is easy to love him. If we're walking along a sidewalk, he will reach out to touch me, or put his arm around me, and I think, oh my, am I showing my love enough? I need to reach out more. and I reach out to touch him. It goes like that. Neither of us ever seem to think, I do too much. Rather, we keep trying to do more for the other, and my gratitude never ends.
Between us, it is not the way Marge Piercy says in "To Have Without Holding":
"It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives."
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.
I don't find that finely tuned tension that Piercy writes of. Rather, I feel that we amplify each other, bring out the best in each other. We have each other, and like Piercy, we do not hold tight. We value the autonomy of the other, and the returns are so sweet. When I have loved others wide open, there has been this pain of stretched muscles, but with Steve, who so generously met my passion of a few days, I found warm embrace. We have found the sweet trust of non-ownership. We don't expect or want to be the only one, the soul mate, the one who is entitled, and through that not-holding, we find a peace that comes with never losing each other.
Tonight we went to the restaurant where we got married 5 years ago, Takahashi. We go there often, but tonight after reading these love poems, and remembering our 10 years together, I was excited about revisiting the night we tied the knot. Our same waitress was there, and when I said, "You'll never guess what night it is," she said, "Would it be an anniversary?" She told us there have been three marriages, three proposals, and when Steve asked, thinking of course not, "Yes, there was! One divorce." They wanted to give us free ice cream, but we didn't feel up to ginger, green tea, or red bean ice cream.
We decided to get dessert at Palio. A chocolate mousse tort for Steve, Red Velvet Cake for me. Divine. Once home, we finished the Scrabble game that we've been playing for over a year. We usually only play this travel Scrabble at Takahashi, and lately the food has been arriving much faster.