Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mix Tape Love

PJ Harvey and Nick Cave

“Reconnecting” for me doesn’t look much like anything you’d see in a parenting magazine article. I’ve sailed past the no brainers like “make time for each other” and gone straight to a more literal, almost visceral sense of reconnection; as if something has actually been severed and we press its bleeding parts back together, letting it flow and heal while I hold him in an exquisite, bittersweet limbo.

When you’ve dated for as long as I did, you learn the hard way never to assume that your experience is the other person’s experience. And I’m not going to make that assumption here, either. It wouldn’t surprise or even disappoint me to learn that Mr. Black barely detected last week’s disturbance in the Force. Sure, he knows there was some fighting and miscommunication. He knows his wife morphed into a shrill teenager for a few scary moments, he knows we fought like stray cats late into the night, and he knows that eventually we found our way back to some intelligent, respectful discourse and mutual understanding. He knows there was killer make-up sex, and he’s gladly accepted the fight’s resolutions at face value. And now, he’s happily settled back into the status quo.

And so have I. But I don’t take last week’s disturbance as a minor bump in the road, and I don’t take our reconciliation lightly. In fact, I’m surprised to find myself feeling more deeply, more terrifyingly in love with him than I have in a long while. Who knew? Faced with even the slightest threat to our relationship, something clawed through some layers of sweet complacency and made me crave him like a teenager again. Except this is nothing like being newly in love.

This has all the passion, all the darkness, all the terror and thrills that a young romance inspires. But this is incredibly more sober and grave. We have hard core life experience and a shared history here. We know there are more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in our old moody mix tapes. And while the future is still uncertain, it’s no longer open and wild. We know it’s going to be him, me, our children, and a whole big bucket of whatever life decides to sling in our direction, good or bad. How intensely, almost unbearably sweet to realize that amid all our frustrations and misunderstandings, no matter how content we’ve become . . . I still have this bottomless need for him in my life.

And there he is, snoozing on the couch like any other thirtysomething husband. In a minute or two, I’ll wake him up and he’ll grumble off to do the dishes. Maybe I can talk him into watching a movie, or maybe he’ll want to go to bed. And before long, maybe even by tomorrow, my layers of complacency are going to heal themselves and I won’t feel this same delicious desperation anymore. That’s the thing about these long-term relationships. It’s ebb and flow. Always ebb and flow.

But I want to remember this feeling. It’s not often you get to be madly, unreasonably in love with someone and share a living room with them, too.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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