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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Winnie the Pooh knows more than I do

(Note: I posted this yesterday, then took it down because I wanted to think about it some more--my apologies if it appeared on your Reader again. I assume you know where the delete button is...)

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.”

~Winnie the Pooh

I'm finally beginning to understand. Love is an interesting phenomenon. It begins with an intensity which makes us wish to physically hold the object of our affection--be it live or inanimate. In time we become accustomed to the people and things we love and the intensity wanes. Sometimes boredom replaces delight and we search for new desires and loves that we might continue to resurrect, somehow, the potent emotions which bring such enjoyment and temporary attachment.

There are probably some for whom the attachment lasts longer, some who accumulate new attachments while retaining the old ones, and some who use and discard. There are also people like me who rarely form attachments at all--but when we do, it's confusing and overwhelming, while still being joyful. 

I'm the type of person who wants to know the outcome of every situation in advance. I'd like to sit down with each person I love and give them a "what if" test. But then I would wish to hold them to their answers, and the truth is--there really are no answers. I have lived long enough to  know what I will do in most situations, and those that surprise me eventually evolve into events I understand and can manage. Most situations...keywords here...

The cerebral part of me has watched my children grow from infancy. I know they will leave me. I expect that. I have raised them to be independent and self-reliant. They don't need me. At this point I serve as a check to their youthful exuberance, and as a cheerleader (not a role I fit well). One day they will go away, find residences of their own, call every three months to let me know they're not dead, and wonder how they ever spent 18 years of their lives with me. That's how it's supposed to be. 

But every once in awhile, DJ kisses my cheek, Adam sits close to me and tells me he loves me, and Tabitha takes my hand while we're walking, and I wonder, when they're living their expected independent lives, where will I fit? Because I can't stop wondering about them, worrying about them...I know...I can't tuck them in bed every night forever. 

People offer me plentiful advice on the subjects of love, emotions, friendship, and family. I listen to it all. I might not agree, but I still consider what they say because, obviously, they get it and I don't.

"You can't expect other people to feel the same way you do." I have reiterated this tidbit from Tolkien Boy several times because I realized a few months back, when people do share the same feelings and emotions it's incredibly joyful. Even on a small scale (like discovering someone feels passion about the same music or poetry) it still feels like a bonding moment. And I want people to feel the same way I do, sometimes. Especially when it involves my feelings for another person. It would be really nice to know that person feels the same way about me. 

I remember the day I realized I loved Darrin so much I wanted to be with him every day for the rest of my life. I thought about it for awhile, recognized there was no way he would want the same thing, made a list of things I would do to get over the hurt when he told me I was a good friend, but probably contact every other day would be adequate. But when I broached the subject with him, he agreed that living with each other would be really fun, and thought it would be a good idea to get married. In spite of my reservations about certain parts of marriage, I couldn't help but feel it was miraculous that he felt the same way about me as I felt about him. 

I remember when DJ was about three years old. He was adorable. He smiled constantly, talked incessantly, and drove me nuts with knock-knock jokes. To circumvent the endless stream of jokes, I allowed him to tell me one, then took this approach:
DJ: Knock-knock, Mom.
Me: Knock-knock who?
DJ: No, Mom. You're supposed to say "Who's there?"
Me: Oh. Sorry.
DJ: Knock-knock, Mom.
Me: Who's there?
DJ: Batman.
Me: Who's there?
DJ: Batman.
Me: Who's there?
DJ: Batman.
Me: Who's there?
DJ: MOM!! You're supposed to say, "Batman, who?"
Me: Oh. I thought I was supposed to say, "Who's there?"
DJ: No. You're supposed to say, "Batman, who?"
Me: Okay.
DJ: Knock-knock, Mom.
Me: Batman, who?

...long pause....

DJ: You're just not very good at knock-knock jokes, are you.
Me: I guess not. Maybe we can do something else?
DJ: Okay.

I loved DJ so much it hurt sometimes. I had never imagined I could love someone in quite that way. I couldn't imagine anyone loving me in that way. But one day I was in the kitchen making dinner. I was singing as I worked and became distracted by a sniffle. I looked up and saw my three-year-old DJ in tears. He said, "Don't sing anymore, okay, Mom?" Trying not to be insulted at his suggestion, I said, "Okay. Want to tell me why you're crying?" He ran to me and hugged my knees, sobbing. I bent down and asked him what was wrong. He said, "Mom, it hurts when you sing. It's pretty, and it makes me hurt right here," and he reached up and pounded on his chest. I hugged him and kissed him and said sometimes it's okay to feel those things. He whispered, "Sometimes, when I'm loving you, it hurts like that, too." Yeah. I knew exactly what he was talking about. Finding out that he loved me with a childlike depth which overwhelmed him was a surprise to me. It made me love him even more.

I'm thinking about this, I suppose, because some of the greatest joy I've experienced has come when I have discovered that some people really do feel the same way I do. It's always unexpected, always surprising to me, because I believe Tolkien Boy's words: "You can't expect other people to feel the same way you do." No, I can't expect it--and I never do--but sometimes I wish for it. Especially in the realms of love and friendship. 

But in that same vein, I realized this past month that just as I prepare my children for the time when they will no longer live with me, I seem to be trying to prepare my friends for the time when we will no longer be close. There is a part of me which will not be ignored, which tells me that in time the desire for closeness will wane and the people who are important to me now will move on to others who more adequately meet their needs, perhaps because they share more common ground, or are closer in age or proximity. 

But maybe that doesn't have to be? Another part of me insists that some people remain friends for very long periods of time. It reminds me that Darrin still likes living with me every day, and tells me that I don't really know how often my children will want to be in contact with me when they leave home. It's possible they'll call more often than every three months--they might even chat with me online occasionally--or perhaps visit in person. It could happen.

A good friend reminded me last month that even though we've only met in person once, we still enjoy talking regularly and frequently--and we've been friends for more than two years now. I'm not sure anymore, what that means, but I think it means that there are some times when people connect and they don't allow the bond to weaken. They...keyword here...

So maybe it's a group effort? I can't keep a friendship or love bond intact no matter how much I try, but with the other interested party the bond can be strengthened indefinitely? I'm not magic by myself, but if I join with others, magic can happen? 

GAH!!! Seriously, who thinks about this stuff??? 

I need to load my dishwasher.

1 comment:

  1. It really is magic when you find someone who likes you back the way you like them. It's exhilarating, and makes me a bit nervous (maybe next time, I'll be annoying and they'll stop liking me). The ones you really, really connect with don't usually leave. Sometimes they do, and it's sad, but someone else great will come along.

    In other news, I am excited to get to see you soon.