The title for this post is borrowed from a favorite poem of mine by the late Derek Walcott in which he rightly proclaims “you will love again the stranger who was yourself.” I have experienced these moments during many seasons of my life. Eventually, if you are willing and open and sometimes super patient enough, a part of yourself just waiting to emerge or return can arrive and “…with elation/you will greet yourself arriving/at your own door, in your own mirror /and each will smile at the other’s welcome.” We can arrive a thousand times, returning to one spot or another.
The same is true of marriage. My husband and I have been a couple for 14 years and married for 9. (I had to actually do the math. It seems impossible.) The first one to two years of marriage were strikingly similar to our dating years. It was only after I got pregnant and had a child that things began to change. Or rather, one door swung abruptly shut as another flung open, kind of like an airplane door might during mid-flight.
I need to be taking a run soon, so I should move this along. Today is my husband’s 45th birthday. To some of you, that might sound ridic old, but I am telling you, it’s totally not. Just wait. You’ll see how most of us middle-aged farts, while growing more like our parents each day, are walking around surprised as hell that we have left our twenties. Wasn’t that just a few years ago? For whatever reason, the farther we go from 22, the closer it feels.
So here I am, moving on. It’s my husband’s birthday, and the night beforehand, I said some likely hurtful and confusing things to him. It happens the more complicated and stressed our lives become, the more thresholds we pass through, the more in-between meeting ourselves in the mirror and stuck inside a former or wounded self we feel. I had a father who yelled a lot, and unfortunately, part of his deeply wounded person lives under my skin, too. But that’s for another time and place.
The point to all of this is that what they say is true, I believe. The truest and deepest understanding of love is when you act lovingly despite feeling otherwise. When you can move aside your own s#*@ for a second and arrive for someone else. When you can see your stuff for what it is, a distraction, a temporary insanity that is blurring your vision of the world.
Despite my ill feelings toward Eric on the day before his birthday, I began dreaming up ways I could show him I love him. 45 notes around the house. 45 tiny bites of chocolate. 45 songs he’d love. The more I thought of such things, the more in love with him I became once again. The more I realized what an idiot I can be. And the more I reflected on just much we have been through in 14 years. And it’s a lot. But it’s also barely scratching the surface of love.
My birthday wish for you, Eric, and for others reading (even if it isn’t your birthday) is to fight less hard in trying to arrive, wherever you are, however you feel about your current life circumstances, your graying hair, your sagging chin, your lack of success.
Be less hard today and everyday. Arrive gently, in your own time.