I heard this great quote on a soundcloud episode the other day (and the source of the quote originally appeared this New York Times Modern Love column) and shared it with Jon and it gave us a laugh and now I’m thinking about getting it printed up on a magnet to keep on our fridge:
“I’ve never even thought about divorce. Murder, maybe. Not divorce.”
In just a handful of days, Jon and I will be just three years in, but those words still ring true regardless.
When you boil it all down to its bare bones, I don’t mind.
I was on assignment this morning to photograph seniors citizens who volunteer at regional hospitals, and as I was walking through the hospital’s main entrance I realized that at this point in the summer exactly–and I mean to the day exactly–three years ago, I was walking through those same doors to see my father, who was fighting stomach cancer, and in the midst of it all I fell in love with Jon, too.
The whole scene made me desperately nostalgic.
My dad is fine now, alive, well, pleased with himself, comfortable enough not to talk to me for several days in a row.
I kept thinking about those nights I spent alone in my bed in Minnesota with the cold near arctic light sneaking across the horizon. I tossed in bed, thinking of Jon. I woke thinking of him, my body heavy with all the desperate want flooding through my bones, following me, some shadow. I remember walking to the bus stop and thinking of him and understanding, for the first time in my life the term, “savage desire.”
It’s almost laughable to write that out but it is true. True! I could die.
I remember driving from the hospital and down to see Jon at his farm as the rain fell in sheets over the dark highway in sheets and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” came on the radio and I felt like I’d fallen through a trapdoor and I didn’t want to stop falling.
Then there is this: I can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to say this but I still feel the same. Not all the time, of course, in fact sometimes I sense the exact opposite, but then those moments of stark love and devotion hit. It’s the same bedrock. Nothing changes about love.
The first night I stayed with him I remember waking the next morning with his chest pressed against my back and my heart thundering through his sternum. I remember wondering if it was real. Asking him if he’d missed me–we hadn’t seen each other in years–and that he said, “No,” but then just a few weeks later he called to say, “I lied. I did. Miss you,” and that I was so stunned that I sat on my kitchen floor and cried.
Is that how you know that something is real? When it matches all the cliches you previously wrote off before you understood it?
When I was in sixth grade, I remember coming to some absurd conclusion that love is suddenly identifying every romantic song that plays on the radio. At that point in my life, that meant All My Life by K-Ci & JoJo. Stupidly, even when I hear that song today, my heart does this tumbling down the stairs thing and the teenager in me dedicates that song to Jon, even though it had previously been assigned to every boy of early years passed. It’s not that they don’t matter anymore so much as they don’t matter as much or for the same reasons.
What is love?
When I was eighteen years old, I thought I was in love with a boy a year older than me who was devastated over a girlfriend who’d dumped him when he went to college. We shared a pathetic beer and a sad joint in the bed of his truck and he turned to me and asked, “What is love? What is love?”
Ten years later I still don’t know the answer.
No, that’s not true. I know the answer.
I just don’t know the words.