Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes
The past couple of weeks have been focused on two reunions for me. Two very important, loving friends from very difference areas of my life converged in New York City to softly rush back into my days a mix of nostalgia, grief, transformation, and unprecedented feelings of peace: JIP and FABIO.
As many of you already know, Jip is my (most-recent) ex from The Netherlands who endured my summer of near-death in 2007. I don’t want to rehash all of that (if you want to explore, everything is archived across April, May, and June of 2007), but it was a profound and important part of my life. Jip and I were permanently bonded by this; maybe even scarred in some way that we might both call “beautiful” now that we’ve survived together. We already shared a deep, loving bond, which was required for what we ended up enduring, but now I want our love and bonding to be free from the anchor and foundation of our powerful tragedy. I want to build new memories and futures. So now our reunion has come nearly 2 years later and it comes with that mix of energies I described above.
Fabio is my friend of about 5 or 6 years, stumbled upon at a mutual friend’s housewarming party long ago. I adored him right away, but so did everyone else, so I kept my distance. I hate when people go ga-ga over someone and crowd about him like hungry, sycophantic sheep. I wrote him off as a pleasant and gorgeous person I might not ever see again. But we did cross paths again. And again. And eventually found our contact moving into friendship. He became my “going out” friend and most of our images at Flickr are of our being out and about with boys and laughs and drinks. All of this was fun, but the playful friendship continued to grow into confidants and intimate friendship, eventually blurring lines between friendship and confused, resisted attraction. We were falling in love in the slowest way I’ve ever known. So slowly, in fact, that my adventure with Jip had already come into full swing before Fabio and I “admitted,” or revealed that this was happening to us. So just before my move to The Netherlands, we discovered this and it became our private, painful and near-devastating secret. It’s not so secret anymore, but after my diagnosis, we don’t really have the option for intimacy any longer. And that’s okay. We live with that. We are “over” that. But it’s still a bittersweet adjustment. We are just happy that I’m alive.
So the weeks of our reunion have come and it’s been a surprising experience for me. I thought I would have excitement, anxiety, anticipation, something dramatic, but it’s been more like they live down the street and stopped by again today to say hi, like they always do. I feel no pressure of time, no need to catch up on two years of distance, and no need to squeeze and press as much experience in together as possible before they leave. In fact, that lazy sense of peace almost caused me to miss out on seeing Fabio altogether! We only got to see each other one time before he left. And it was good. Really good.
All I feel is… peace? I can’t describe it as anything different than that: Peaceful; a sense of validation that when love is genuine, it needs no theatrics, no drama, no overwhelming need to constrain it.. it just IS. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its ups and downs and fun and fear, but the peace comes from realizing that love is a spectrum that includes all of that, and that none of the fluctuations, distance, changes, rearrangements, etc are a threat to it.
I don’t want to make all of this sound uber-romantic, though. Like I said, there are ups/downs/fun/fear. I don’t want to give the impression that “true love” is effortless; in fact, it’s not. It requires a lot of effort. And the shape it ultimately takes is often far from what we thought it would be. But as with anything we strengthen, it becomes easier and easier to love, really love, the more you make that effort. And “making the effort” means making room for everything that comes along with a relationship, and making the best choices you can make along the way, knowing that you will learn to make better ones over time.
Everyone in my life who is intimate with me and who has put up with me for more than two years knows this process of loving and closeness. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. The peace that comes with having no pretenses and no threats against your circles of intimacy is worth every painful sobbing and every heightened pleasure that you thought would never end…
If you are trying to love someone, or allow them to love you… hang in there.
Hang in there… everyone is worth that effort.
Is there anyone in your life that you KNOW you love? Truly Love? Did you have the challenges of time, space, change that allowed you to see just how true your love is?