20th Anniversary

Mendocino County, CA

It has literally taken me decades to understand why love is no one else’s business.

Last week in the dark one night–was it just after we turned the lights out? was it deep in the dark early morning?–I lay next to Chris and didn’t know what to do. I felt frozen, a strange energy running through my body. I craved him and felt so distant from him at one and the same time. It was a familiar feeling–one that has woven its way in and out of our 25 years together, our 20 years married especially–but one that always confuses me. How could a feeling be so powerful in more than one direction at once?

But instead of collapsing, or turning away, or trying to figure it out, I just let it be. Or rather, I offered it a greeting, and tried to feel it for what it was in all its complexity.

And there it was. The massive, soft, powerful creature called love, in between us and enfolding us. A being. Monster, teddy bear, sea fog, blooming rose. Full of life and presence, vast and right there and true. And for the first time, breathing in the night, I felt I recognized it and could be thankful for it and let it have its own existence. I didn’t celebrate it or push it away or try to write it into some familiar story. I listened to it, and him, breathing.

And I see, and feel, that after all this time this creature is ripe with each thing we’ve been through: the passageways we’ve traveled together, the confusion and darkness as well as the bright vistas and laughter. I can even see how the times I’ve turned away have also been part of this creature, this being in love.

It has its very own shape, because of us. And our life has a shape together, because of it.

As I sit at this window writing desk (“I can’t imagine you not sitting there,” he said, setting down my journal and my coffee) and he sits with his book by the gas fire, and the sea is gray, and the palm tree by the drive is old and dignified, and the seals call, and a page of his book turns and my pen scratches and our hearts beat and we get ready to go home together…

It will go home with us. Warm and stubborn and complicated, both shadowy and comforting, a companion in our darkness and our waking…. our love. No one else’s. Just ours.

Maybe, if you are in a partnership, it will take you so long to figure this out, too. Maybe it won’t. I think, however it shows up for you, it must be part of your being. No one else’s. Just yours.

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