Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Little Too Easy: Thoughts on Love

Sunflowers and Sky

Matt has a funny relationship with this blog.  Or at least I think he does.  On second thought, maybe “funny” isn’t the right word.  Maybe it’s wonderful.  As you may have guessed by now, or as you may remember, his presence on this site is almost completely limited to the text.  That’s not because he’s hideously ugly, or because he’s extremely shy.  He’s rather attractive (says one rather smitten and therefore biased woman) and he is definitely not shy.  But he does like to keep his private life private, which could create a conflict of interest between the two of us.  I write about him, and us, quite frequently.  And Matt, gracious and generous man that he is, lets me.  Not once has he howled in protest that I shared too much or offered too much of his private life for public consumption.    

As I’m sure is quite obvious by now, I like writing about him and us.  I learn a lot from him, and I like to share what I’m learning with you.  By writing about our romance, I get to savor those moments again, and it keeps the memories fresh for me.  I realize that time changes our memories, and a written account is flawed in its own way too, but now, more than three years after we started seeing each other, it’s such a pleasure for me to be able to read what I wrote about us in the earlier days of our relationship.  Time changes our memories, but more importantly, it changes us.  Having some sense of what we were in the past is a marvelous thing.  Some couples take lots of photos of their adventures together; I try to write them down so that I can remember us, so that I can love who we were and who we are becoming.   

Things are a bit different for us now that we live within driving distance.  When I was in graduate school, it was always plane tickets and flight itineraries, with time breathing down our necks as our visit gently became past tense.  Those were exciting days: those new romance days; those giddy, I-can’t-wait-to-see-him days.  I loved those days.  Those were the falling-in-love days.  We had a different rhythm then.  Usually, Matt would visit me, flying in on a Friday and leaving on Sunday.  We cooked more of our meals at home; our visits were humbler affairs, once he/I/we had arrived at our destination.  We would often pop out for lunch or tea, we liked to walk along Lake Michigan into downtown Evanston, and we’d usually go shopping at Whole Foods for wine and dinner provisions.  Matt would offer to carry the groceries, which was a sweetly chivalrous act, and he never complained about my lack of a car (or lack of money either).  Sometimes we’d ride the train together back to my apartment after our little downtown excursion.  I remember there was one time, early in our dating relationship, when he was visiting me during the bitter cold days after Christmas.  I had no internet at home—such a Luddite I was back then!—and he needed to check his e-mail.  We boarded a train to go to a cafe downtown, and I sat in the window seat.  He sat down next to me, very close to me, on the attached two-person seats, and blamed it on his bulky bag, heavy with a laptop computer.  It was a silly, sweet moment, sitting so snugly between him and the window.  It was the sort of moment that feels just right in a new romance, a sign of affection and intimacy and playfulness.

Part of me misses those old days.  Things felt less certain between us, but maybe that uncertainty made our time together that much more exciting.  I knew I liked him, I knew I liked him A LOT, but I didn’t know what that meant.  So many relationships are built on the premise of commitment, and he’d already said to me, earnestly, “I am committed to you.”  I believed him.  I even knew, deep down, that I was falling for him before we started dating.  So when we actually did start dating, I didn’t know what to do with myself because all the pieces had fallen into place, and that was, oddly enough, confusing.  I think it was confusing because we think of dating as a time when we figure out how we feel about that person—what our sense of commitment and compatibility feels like.  If those things don’t need to be deciphered, then where’s the dating puzzle?  Maybe that’s just it: Matt came into my life as a self-explaining puzzle: “Here I am!  Now let me tell you how I operate.”  So many men are mysterious creatures that require frequent conversations over wine with girlfriends to figure them out.  Matt was blissfully easy to love and to understand.

Perhaps he was a little too easy, which is why it felt uncertain in the first place.  Love can’t really be this easy, can it?

Actually, yes, it can, with the right person and if you are ready for it.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this rambling essay!


Chrissy (The New Me) said...

I love the way you write about love! And I know what you mean about being nostalgic for the beginning of a relationship, when everything is immediate and uncertain and intense. Nathan and I were long distance for the first year or so of our relationship and it added such a layer of emotion to everything. Of course, I love living with him now. But I still miss those beginning days.

Looking forward to part two. :)

Rosiecat said...

Thanks, Chrissy! I actually find it really hard to write about love in a linear fashion. Inevitably, my thought process takes twists and turns, and all of a sudden, a post that was supposed to be about the last weekend we spent together has turned into a nostalgic stroll down memory lane. But that's part of the thrill of writing :-)

I think you and I share a lot of the same opinions about relationships, based on what I've read on your blog. Long-distance can be wonderfully intense and romantic! It gets a bad rap, I think, but I think that it can definitely work if the people in the relationship have good communication skills and genuinely want happiness for each other.

I'm happy for you that your long-distance days blossomed into a happy, healthy relationship! Love is grand :-)

Chrissy (The New Me) said...

I like a lot of independence in my relationships and the timing of the long distance portion of our relationship was kind of perfect - it was my last year of undergrad and I got to enjoy that time with my friends and do my growing up without having to take anybody else into consideration (day to day, that is. I was still, after all, in a relationship!). I'm not sure I would want to do it again, though. Our relationship now is still pretty independent, but it's also very supportive. We help each other through the days, plus two giant dogs is a lot to handle by yourself.

Since we're both in long term relationships, I'm sure you can agree that part of the charm of being with someone for so long is being able to look back and see how you have changed and evolved together. Our relationship is so different now than it was nine years ago. I'm nostalgic sometimes for that intense, crazy beginning, but I find comfort and security in what we have now. It's a fair trade. :)

Rosiecat said...

Yes, yes, yes! It's always really fun to talk to someone who has a similar perspective on relationships. Like you, I like independence, but I also really like romance. With Matt, I get to run my life the way I want, but I also get this wonderful romantic relationship. The downside is that I miss him all the time, but it doesn't make me unhappy to miss him. It's more sweet than sad. I realize that Matt and I have full, busy lives, and we are really supportive of each other.

I've been thinking a lot about the changes you describe, the kind you get to observe after a long time with someone. I'm not sure that Matt has changed that much, but I know I have, and he's been an important part of that. I'm a bit younger than he is, so there is more growing up that I need to do. But I like that I've been able to share this experience with him. As I've grown up more, we've grown closer, and I can see us more clearly--the ways in which we are alike and the ways in which we differ. I think that understanding him and us has made our relationship stronger, more flexible, and more compassionate.

Chrissy, I'm enjoying our conversations in the comments! :-)

Shannon said...

What a great post, you write about love in such an amazing way! I think when it is easy, that perhaps it is exactly right. Not that I know a thing ;) But I'll eagerly await part II!

Rosiecat said...

Aw, thank you, Shannon! It's definitely true that when love is easy, you have more time to have fun together. Less drama = more fun.

Part II is in the works... :-)