I always knock twice and wait with an expectant smile to hear a muffled, “come in”.
He was absorbed, contorted over his guitar, cords snaking and coiling into various devices. I knelt in front of him and lay my head on his knees, just listening.
“I’m almost done.”
“It’s okay. I’m just listening.”
Normally I might find some not-so-subtle way to show my displeasure at being ignored when I entered the room. (How presumptuous and self-important that sounds now.) So I chose contentment. I wanted him to know I intended to enjoy his presence without commandeering his attention. Why is this so difficult sometimes? Expectations get the better of me when reality takes a different path which it usually does.
We begin a discourse with Jose about why life seems more beautiful sometimes when you’re watching someone else’s. I think it is because we cannot experience the depth of another’s life in its roller-coaster totality as intimately as our own. And we tend to unconsciously give more weight to negativity rather than positivity. Science says this is so.
“If you were to present yourself to the world focusing only on the negatives—what you struggle with most in your life—what would you say?” he asked me.
“I am constantly in my head always evaluating what I’m living against what I want to live or what I think I “should” experience. And I’m often disappointed, disillusioned. That is very hard for me. This kind of thinking has ramifications across every area of my life.” It strikes me that the solution might seem painfully obvious. Practice gratitude, live in the present, surround yourself with love, some would say. But how do you change something that sits so deeply in your modus operandi that it has taken this long (26 years) to even be able to see it? How do you change the chemistry patterns in your brain?
“So then if you were to tell people about what’s amazing and how you’re killing it, what would you say?”
I begin answering. And whereas before it might have been a trite exercise to escape the negativity that has a way of pulling me deeper, this time it feels sincere. The subtle flavors of genuine emotion color my words rather than that familiar frustrating blandness that self consciousness produces.
“I get to work with passionate people every day. I determine my own schedule. I live in a beautiful neighborhood with children and gardens and great coffee. I have a church family that walks through the deep darkness with me and prompts me to talk about it, to dig into it. I have a boyfriend who is incredibly creative, who pushes me to do more of what I love, and who challenges me to be unhindered by what others think of me. I would not be so free if it were not for him.” Though I am not directly addressing him, I know he is listening and I want him to hear. It is not often that he hears me speak highly of him to others. It strikes me in that moment how sad that is.
We are sitting across from one another over dinner. It’s a warm night. We were engaged in discussions all the way to guitar center where we dropped off our electric guitars to be tuned up and then all the way to the restaurant. It’s worth mentioning because our bodies have been tired and our souls have been thirsty for months, perhaps longer so we do not always have things to talk about but today, in the wake of inspiration’s descent up on me, an aliveness and attentiveness and hunger spills from me with an ease I have not experienced in some time. Pride sleeps for the moment. “Do you think it is true that in our relationship, I have been more of a taker than a giver?”
He pauses. “Yes.”
“But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true because I am selfish—”
“Yes, but if you’re feeling it, then it’s real and worth noting. I don’t want to be that way but I think you’re right.”
“That’s interesting you would say that.”
“I had a thought today. What if my only desire for this relationship was to glorify God? How would that change the way I thought about us and about you? It would change everything.”
We walked to a bus stop. I leaned over to kiss him, a smile breaking on my face before I got to there. “Let’s kiss under the moonlight,” I said, nodding up at the ugly “moon” on the lamp post above us.
I write until midnight to savor these moments. Writing about them reminds me that life and the path of true love is not always fraught with pain and disappointment and does not have to be, that I have more control over my outlook than I realize.
Undertaking the translation of music and art into graphic design for the good of people and the beautification of things seen and unseen