Sometimes I wonder how much happier relationships would be if we could bottle the scent of a companionable silence and, when disaster struck, release it to run amok with shaky hearts.
Human beings seem very adept at breaking down, with critical ease, the failings of their relationships. They can name, categorise and carefully label the pains and torments, the inadequacies and faltering steps. I’ve definitely been a labeller, at the ready with my sharpie to write away the past with a deft flick of the wrist.
Yet it is rare, rare indeed to see someone praising their relationship’s moments of happiness in a way that is effusive and unreserved. It’s true also that often when someone tries, they’re hampered by a lack of genuine language that leads to a slow tipping forward into a heap of cliche that threatens to smother the purity of their sentiment. And so they don’t try, or they sound like a hallmark card.
I’m drawn to folk to whom a sincere contemplation of the good moments of their relationship and a pursuit of honest praise of such, comes easily. I wish it did me. I find my mouth filled with too much chatter and not enough meaning. The carelessness with which I choose crucial expressions makes me cringe. I want to underscore what I mean with what I usually have: words. But they fall together painfully and land wrong.
And it hurts me more not to try. Right now I’m sitting here, my skin warm and flushed and my stomach fluttery with the joy of being partnered to a person so completely invested in my happiness and his own fierce right to it, that when we converse it is filled, brimming with light. Independence and faith in equal euphoric measure.
Sometimes it isn’t this way, and the contrast, the relief brings a spot on smack to the forehead that dizzies me. You need to know struggle in a relationship, I think. Not abuse – that’s not struggle, because it isn’t consensual to start with. But you need to have done the taxing work to know what it is to laugh with abandoned, graceless, hedonism in the balm of each others regard.
Sometimes I feel angry at my partner. I have, recently. Sometimes we feel trapped. And then we talk, and take space, and talk more, and go to therapy, and talk more and then, then something opens and…there. We find the clearing. Giddily we stand there together, shouting ‘oh there you are!’
The product of that work and thought is this feeling, right now, and I want to record it. Being able to negotiate boundaries that work for us, to do so with giggles and unabashed admiration, to want each other’s pleasure, to be ready to be the government of our connection and to reject the rules of the surrounding world – it feels so sweet.
I do, in this moment, regard him as a wonder. I don’t care that he’s on the other side of the world. I don’t feel far away. I don’t feel powerless, I feel lit up like a thousand street lamps.
In the good times, you feel like you can conquer the world together, or alone and with the grinning cheering on of them at your back. You feel like you’ve climbed a really high thing and you’re sweating and waving from the peak.
I wish I could bottle this, and give it out for free.