white-on-white 4

White doesn’t look like it fades but it does.  Things fade.  Interest fades too.  Adoration.  Devotion.  Titillation.  Lust.  Desire.  All those things we use to measure a relationship.  They break down and lose their luster. And, of course, we make decisions based on that curve of deterioration.

I wish I had a penny for every person who said to me “I love him/her.  I’m just not in love with him/her.” It’s a code and I’m not sure there’s a Romance Rosetta Stone to unlock what we really mean by it.  Sometimes it means “this has become hard work and drudgery.”  Sometimes it might mean “I made a mistake.”  Sometimes it could mean “I don’t know how to stay connected.”  Sometimes it means “I’m bored because s/he’s not keeping me entertained.”

The one that intrigues me the most is “this is getting too intimate and I’m scared.”  As long as we’re entranced by the excitement of it all, we can avoid the reality that we are two people with needs.  We’ve fallen into each others sphere of influence and now the translation codes of what I want and what you can give has to be tested.  And testing often means tolerating both failure and uncertainty.  So much easier just to focus on excitement.

Closing off from the relationship is compelling because it feels safe, at least initially.  The energy of self-righteous hurt powers a million ways to secure the perimeter against attack.  Re-direct the blame somewhere else.  Focus on all the ways I tried harder than you.  Point out your unwillingness to meet me at the appointed time and place of my need.

I was talking with a friend, itemizing the basis of my rationale that the relationship I was in was oh-too-hard.  And she asked, “When you’re in that room with him, mentally taking apart his every move, documenting his every negligence, listing all the reasons this is not going to work, who else is there?”

white-on-white 3

I was curious about this plant which was growing out of a clump of hosta.  Technically a weed – something I didn’t put there and which isn’t included in the scheme of things.  But I was curious and let it grow enough to produce delicate white flowers.  The texture of the petals is like a brushed cotton, the kind my favourite summer shirts are made of.

Landscapes are comforting when they have that same soft, nubby texture.  Rolling fields punctuated by hills and carved into high relief by gullies.  In early Spring the edges are fuzzy with new growth and by Summer the haze of greens add to the sensations of an oft-wrapped shawl or a worn quilt.

These days, I do best in relationships that have this lazy,  undulating flow, textured with comfort and soothing encounters.  There are few expectations other than an agreement to be gentle with each other.  We say things like “thank you for understanding” and “that’s such a relief to hear” or “let me see what I can do.”  Life’s too long for anything else.

Frank was cleaning out the last two boxes of our vegetable garden while I worked on being fixated by the weeds coming up from the “weed-killer” landscape covers.  In a moment of rest, I saw him sitting in the earth of the 4 x 4 box looking for all intent like a child in a sandbox.  “You make a beautiful child,” I said – knowing full well his life had not included the luxury of sandboxes.  We laughed.

It’s never too late to change the landscape of our lives.