Thursday, February 11, 2010

Well, you know, love...

So, it's Valentine's Day this weekend and bloggers everywhere are writing about love.

Sigh.

And I come to the page and I think...

Crap.

What the hell do I know about love?

I have been married to the same man for... Oh, I forget. Honey, how long is it?

34 years. He keeps track.
I have saved every rose he's ever given me.
I keep them in glass mason jars.
We argue... a lot.

Love.

Back when I was 18, 19, 20 - and we were falling in and out of love every week or so, I thought I knew what I was looking for.

To me, love was:

1) A feeling:
I'd be swept off my feet by a blast of lightning; we would talk and talk and talk, so alike that our energy would blend into a perfected whole; we would fall so deeply and completely into the pool of each other that we'd be.. you know, one.

2) A treasure hunt:
The soul-mate thing where "There's someone out there for me" and it's my job (and my destiny) to find him/her

3) A certainty:
He was looking for me as intently as I searched for him. I'd sense his presence the way you can feel the sun on your back with your eyes closed. We would know each other instantly. Our eyes would meet and ... zing... zap... zooey: Love.

Or, as it turned out...
"none of the above."

My husband is not my soul-mate; not in the classic sense of the word. We do not enjoy each other's company all that much; we're lucky if we get through a long conversation without one of us (well, me) sighing and walking out of the room in exasperation.

He is messy. I am, for the most part, neat.
He likes clutter, I like clear surfaces.
He hates TV, I love it.
He is obsessive (my word, he prefers "efficient") about calculating the precise cost of a heating the water to fill the tub; I... well, i like to take a bath.

And yet...

Thirty-four (long) years after my husband and I met, we turn toward each other again. Now that the kids have (for the most part) moved out; now that we have done the whole build-a-nest thing (clumsily, messily... but it's done), we find in each other something unexpected.

I first encountered my husband in a photograph; a snapshot that my college roommate carried around in her wallet (because SHE liked him). Dressed in a red velour sweatshirt, with straight blonde hair to his shoulders and a megawatt smile, I took one look at this 18-year-old boy-man and lost my heart.

Seriously, it leapt right out of my chest - tore through my brand new Huk-a-Poo blouse and landed, flip flop, flip flop on the floor.

I scrambled to retrieve it before my roommate saw it. Quickly gulping it back down without even dusting it off.

Which left a kind of gritty taste in my mouth - a bitter, hard to shake residue - an indigestible: Why not me? that pulsed (Why not me?) from the center of my chest as my (much prettier) roommate ran each day to the mailbox.

When his letter finally came, she opened it. She wrinkled her brow. Then, she handed it to me.
"Can you make ANY sense of this?" she asked.

It was a language of codes and symbols, a cryptographic cry to the universe. It was a work of art.

"Of course," I said. And then I explained my future husband to her.

For the next few weeks...
Well, just think Cyrano de Bergerac – me, hiding, in moonlit shadows, translating his messages into meaning; telling her what to write in reply.

Otherwise, I didn't think about him at all.

Then, on New Year's Eve, when everyone in the world was resolving to be better, thinner, more true - I met him.
And ... zing... zap... zooey: Love.

I still don't understand it.
And finally, after 34 years and an almost finished memoir filled with our wrestling match... I mean, marriage... I have stopped trying.

This is what we do now: I leave in the morning before he wakes up. I go to yoga and then, to work. I write in a café because he works at home and his job, as an architect, requires a lot of shouting into the telephone (which is the opposite of what my work, as a spiritual writer, requires.)

Some time in the early evening, I come home and start cooking. I don’t greet him; he knows I’m home. Eventually, he ambles into the kitchen while I’m making dinner and steals bites from the pan before I’ve served it because often, he’s forgotten to eat lunch.

We don’t kiss or hug all as much as we used to (though there are times... ) We don’t exchange moony romanticisms. We disagree about how to handle our son’s identity crisis; he talks about the bills (again) and bothers me about getting my car serviced. When he tells me about a project he’s working on, he goes on too long and I interrupt, telling him, “Honey, I’m kinda tired. Can you wrap it up?”

Sometimes, this offends him. Other times, he apologizes, asks me about my day.
I tell him about my hormones, my diet or the kink in my shoulder from yoga practice. I tell him about an angel story I’m working on – he tells me about the book he’s been writing about a cosmic superhero named C’zor.

Often, we eat silently catching up on our reading. Last night, we listened to a podcast of Radio Lab, from NPR.

After dinner, I go into the living room and turn on the TV. He clears the table (I cooked) and passing me on his way to his home office, squeezes my shoulder. I look up – he smiles. He still has the most beautiful eyes...

I smile back, put my hand over his.

Within an hour, I’ll have fallen asleep watching television. Knowing this, he checks in, puts a warm blanket over me. Turns off the TV and the lights.

Zip Zap Zooey: Love.

23 comments:

Susan said...

Sigh...thank you for the beautiful post.

Erika Napoletano said...

Now THAT'S love...thanks for sending my way. Sometimes the close-your-eyes-and-dream approach is delightfully overshadowed by the open-your-eyes-and-see tactic ;-)

Anne Wayman said...

Yikes! Why does this make sense to me, a multiple divorced still single woman of a bit more than a certain age.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Now, THAT is what I want someday. Thank for the post.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, it leapt right out of my chest - tore through my brand new Huk-a-Poo blouse and landed, flip flop, flip flop on the floor.

This reminded me how 2 weeks ago on my birthday, my husband of 20 years brought me home a peek-a-boo blouse. The problem came when I was trying it on, he peeked and than he booed. Oh well, what can you do? Anyway, what happened to the roommate? I love that you love t.v. I would have never guessed that about you

Kelly Jordan

jesse said...

i always hoped/knew love was supposed to be as comfortable as an old, holey pair of levis. maybe you ought not wear 'em in public, but they sure feel good to wear around the house.

Cathy said...

Beautifully written post. Thank you for sharing!

wholly jeanne said...

make it 36 years; long brown hair; have me pick him up in a bar instead of off the floor; have him driving way too far to an office to do electrical contracting stuff on commercial buildings (where he might just be one your husband is yelling at) and it could be us starring in this beautiful, real-life real-love story you've been generous enough to share with us. talk about your angels . . .

Matthew Oscar Architect said...

Amy Valentines Day Blog 2-11-2010
The story Alchemist/angel writer is my Valentine for 32 years. That's 8 years engaged in heart wrestling then 25 yr.s of marriage. (There is no silver,gold or platinum for 25.)
What do I know about love? What have I learned being married to the story alchemist. 15 minutes in mind circles and Oh.. now I got it. I can explain it this way. I thought I could use all sorts of analogies to seasons and storms,passionate plants and firiery animals anything other than human logic. Amy was not a Story Alchemist when I met her. That simple clarity in this moment shows me a way to explain our love. I am an artist/architect and my feet don’t necessarily touch the ground all the time. I also live comfortably in a visionary world. Some how my soul knew impossible things about her soul. If this sweet pretty girl from Great Neck NY with the temper of a lioness would continue to leave me and continue to come back,who understood me with her therapist type depth, then perhaps She is from another planet just like me. Some might agree that if you call yourself a story alchemist you can’t be from this planet. In Amy’s arms I am home. We are two people truly from another planet where only two lovers ever existed. Our world came into being when we met. The gravity and all the other known and unknown energetic fields increase with everyday we are together. No force is strong enough to break our love. The roots grew to fast and deep the gardens are too lush to leave untended. Some how her(your) spirit knew that in our world she (you)could threaten to leave me everyday of (your) her life before and after we got married. Could you have known that this spirit,this guy only breathes commitment. I didn’t know that I was that person how did our souls know this. How could we have known. Our souls must have seen our children before we even met perhaps. How wonderful they must have seemed before they existed and now it is time proven to be true. With her I cannot deny all the gifts she brings me with her life, with him I cannot deny life brings a well spring of (good material)….stories. What other joys what other punishments what new ecstasies will unfold. I can write this way and she mostly understands what I am trying to say. Amy says that in a prior life time a building I was building fell on her and caused her death. So in this lifetime I must serve her. She says it is a joke but I think she believes it. I say Love is a spiritual science fiction and Amy will play the main character’s love interest where she will be entirely free while she explores life. She will perform one of her roles to cause endless frustration to her lover in all aspects of his life so that he can free himself of all conceptions of love every day and every moment feel it for the first time again and know I have arrived home again.

Lindsey said...

This is just so marvelous, so adult, so mature, so REAL... thank you.

Amy Oscar said...

See what I mean. Who wouldn't love this man? (once they understand him.... LOL. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Rose said...

Beautiful writing! So glad Shelly Kramer tweeted your post.

Amy Oscar said...

Kelly - the roommate? A few years later, she married the man I was going out with the night I met Matthew.

Marjory said...

Amy, lovely post. Smiling! Your husband's response is wonderful. Thanks for sharing!!
Marjory

wholeselfcoach said...

Ah...it was stories like yours that allowed me to see my love. I stepped out of the Disney dream and into my life. I'm so glad you shared this (and that your Valentine responded - I can clearly see why you love him). I love the symmetry of the Kelly story. Angels at work.

Marie said...

Wow!!! What an honest, open look at love and I totally LOVE it!! Thank you for sharing this with me! And then to read your husbands comments, well - that just made my day!! No wonder you guys are still so much in love after all this time!!

Hope that your Valentines weekend is full of the wonderful million little things that are completely making your life Big!!!

many {{HUGS}} to you!

@spreadingJOY

Anonymous said...

Hello Amy

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful and real love story. As a perpetual singleton, I always wonder what the inside of a marriage really looks like :) And I often wonder if, at this late stage in the game (I'm 40-ish), I'd want to settle at all.
I'm talking to my angels! ;)

Amy Oscar said...

Anonymous - Never settle, you don't have to. Simply love. I learned that from my husband. I had no idea what unconditional love looked like. Thank Heaven he picked me from the pile... and didn't let me get rid of him.

Allen Gibson said...

Last night, my wife and I were sitting in our chairs in the TV room. TV was on, she was knitting, with her black cat in her lap. I had my netbook open, surfing the web, looking up random targets ("I wonder how old the women in Heart are?" after seeing them on TV. "Honey-- Ann wilson will be 60 this year." "no," she said," I can't believe it." )

We small-talked, back and forth. Then, with a note of surprise and happiness in her voice, she said--"We love each other! I'm so happy."

Not quite what I would have imagined as the 20 year old at the Heart concert with my soon-to-be-wife. But pretty good as a 50 year old with the woman I've shared most of my life with.

Pretty good indeed.

Thanks for your work on your blog.

Allen

Katie O said...

hey guess what?
you just graduated.
also
i cried a little bit when i saw daddy commented.
also
i love you.

Sally G. said...

This post brought to mind a book by Sue Monk Kidd called "The Mermaids Chair". The message I took from this book - and recall vividly to this day, is 'the beautiful enduring'. It's not all about fireworks, palpitations and molten blood flow ~ if you allow yourself to get there, it's in the little things. The unexpected smile. The almost un-conscious touch on the back of the neck or lower back. The lowering of the volume when you join him on the couch because he knows that you're sensitive to noise. Very beautiful Amy ...

Anonymous said...

guess im the only one who feels it is settling and not at all anything i want. just love is not enough. this sounds completely the opposite of what i want. its like why even bother being in a relationship if there's barely anything to it. much more i could say but since everyone believes this is a good relationship, why bother. too bad because it takes the who concept of being spiritual & living a spiritual life doing spiritual work and practically destroys it. if your partner is not truly your partner, its not spiritual or good. but if u are happy (or think u are)....

Amy Oscar said...

Laughing. Anonymous... Part of my spiritual practice IS my marriage - the biggest, most rewarding (and challenging) part.

The idea that you will find "your partner" and that, when you do, there will be no boredom, no fighting, no ups and downs, is an illusion that leaves many people living alone.

It's the illusion of the "perfected" self and the "perfected other". But when you work in the real life laboratory of real relationship. When you let yourself dive in and HAVE a relationship, that's when the spiritual work begins. It's spiritual to forgive someone, it's spiritual to honor someone else's point of view when it differs from your own, it's spiritual to choose peace over war (in the kitchen and bedroom), it's spiritual to love someone in spite of their flaws- and your own

Finally, being spiritual and living a spiritual life has nothing to do with your partner. You live it "anyway", you insist on living it. You live it for yourself, because you seek a deeper relationship, the one between you and yourself, or, if you believe in a greater power, between you and God.