Apparently the romantic comedies, both film and books, and the poetry of the ages, hold true – there is a beautiful painting to be revealed when the restoration is complete, there is a way to remove the sword from the stone, and we don’t all end up like Maud Muller searching our memories for stately halls that never were. (Incidentally, Maud Muller, possible Maude Muller, is an excellent poem and you should look it up) Sometimes friendships, broken hearts, tears, tea, miso soup and questionable Chinese food can all add up to a love with actual roots.
I have had the hardest time rooting myself here in Portland – which is, of course, because my roots are back home in California. I don’t attach easily, in a deep way that is, to friends. I crave history and depth, old stories, a whole constellation of memories. And that doesn’t just happen in a new city. I have friends but it will take a while and so far I don’t really have many that I hold a lot of memories with, maybe like a Little Dipper’s worth, but not Orion’s whole Belt.
Anyhow, I have deep roots with one person. When Kyle and I met it was much too soon for me to be in a romantic relationship. We tried but I just pushed him away and rejected his love and bids for a true deep connection. I rejected it because while I felt so many of the same things I could not really feel them – there was too much in my heart, head and life. And so we became friends. Off and on we would blur the lines of friendship and dating but at the root of it, he became my closest friend in Portland. (Now I have some amazing people in my life, and Lord knows they have been there in the darkest hours and I doubt my survival were it not for them, and since I know you are reading this let me assure you, this does not discount that, this is a different story)
When my divorce paper’s arrived – he brought me flowers and a card. When I was really punched for the first time (New Years Eve ’06, great night, really), he left a party an hour before midnight to be with me. When I was so lost in myself, my job, my head, he was there. Even when I was hurt in my efforts to date someone else (poor effort that THAT was) and after my assault when I couldn’t even go to work anymore or talk to my close work friends because it was too frightening – he held my hand and sat quietly with me. When my divorce finalized. When I would have panic attacks and cry and even freeze up – be literally immobilized with fear, pain and bewilderedness – he was with me, completely present (and working full time and in grad school!!).
And there are definitely a lot of good times! The Grand Lodge, walks in all seasons of the year, watching stars, writing letters and poetry, bad attempts at Sushi restaurants, bowling, beer, terribly mismatched senses of humor and yet a lot, a lot of laughter, and so many more.
All of this brings me to this: I used to tell my therapist that Kyle and I couldn’t be together because I wasn’t ready for a relationship. She had been asking me for a long time what kept me from being in a relationship with him, was it the unconditional Rogerian-esque love? The complete and utter acceptance? The kindness? And this wasn’t all in sarcasm, but sincerely, could I not have these things? We knew there were things that Kyle and I clashed on, but there were a lot of things that had more to do with my being unwilling to be open to them; like love.
So when the conversation came up again this past January or February, she asked me why I still believed I was not ready for a relationship. Was it maturity? Time? Too soon still? No. It was not the maturity. I didn’t think it was the time because the timing was finally pretty good. But . . . I paused and I remember just stopping and looking out the window of her office and I finally said, “I don’t know. Maybe I am. Maybe it is that I am so comfortable saying I am not ready that it is an excuse.” And there it was.
That night Kyle and I went to dinner and while we didn’t start dating right then, I was honest about why I had held back. I told him all of the good things I had felt and thought but that if I had dared bring them up in the past that I knew I would have run away from. He pointed out that every time he so much as indicated that we had a future that I would disappear in some manner. And then we became better friends. He has been my closest friend in Portland basically since we met and even though there was a point where we did not talk for months and I suspected we would never talk again, I still secretly put him down as my emergency contact because I knew he would be there.
And now he is my real and honest emergency contact number. As some of you know that has been my sadness of singleness, no one to call in the event of an emergency that was closer than 1,000 miles away. That is a lonely feeling (albeit dramatic).
I became open to love and thankfully Kyle was still open to sharing it with me. I could finally love him and invest my heart into being in a healthy, non-obsessive, less crazy-jealous (I’m improving!), kind, good, mutually respectful and accepting, kick-ass grown-up relationship.
And I don’t want or need a third chance. The books closed and I am not scared to say it. Well, not like I used to be.
p.s. I think it stopped raining, guess I’ll go to bed. It’s 3am and while this was my favorite hour when I was younger . . . I think I’ll say goodnight to the clouded moon and stars and hello to my new cuddly pillow.