“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable and open.” — Stephen Russell
A long time ago, the guy I thought I would marry told me that one of my greatest features was that once I decided to love, I loved absolutely. When I close my eyes in the darkness just before sleep, in that moment - when we are absolutely our truest selves - I know he was right.
Getting there, now that's the hard part. We get older, wiser, and more closed. Because life can be tough sometimes. And life can be ridiculous sometimes.
We go on dates with people who yell at us to shut up in public, who try and yet fail to leave us mid-date, who surprise us with offers to snuggle up on couches with confederate flag blankets, who offer to spit on us, who disappear into the mist, who deceive and manipulate, and, of course... lest we lose our sense of humor, who bite our face. Ah, isn't that a lovely love-life summary.
We get pet on the arm at weddings and told not to worry, it'll happen for us someday, too. We are occasionally bombarded with complete medical incompetence as we are informed that perhaps our standards are too high, we are reminded that Brad Pitt has already been taken, that perhaps marriage and children are no longer in the cards for us, and oh - by the way - it's ok to be a lesbian - since clearly the heterosexual route hasn't really worked in our favor so far.
Dan Savage, for want of a better expression, is my hero. He puts on a neat little podcast every week and a column every day and darn it if he isn't just one of the smartest, bluntest, no-nonsense sex/relationship advice givers out there. He's not one to sugar coat and does not lie. He does not take his advice seekers' sides if he doesn't truly agree with them, and he sure as shit doesn't believe the rainbows and butterflies that pretend to claim that there is someone out there for everyone. And that's some tough shit to hear. But he also says a lot about how if you really want to do right by you and your dreams for your life, you have to create a life for yourself that presents opportunities for your own personal satisfaction.
Let's be clear. That's some tough shit, too.
Because life is ridiculous. For reals.
Sometimes we make questionable choices and move across the country or the world and we love and hate it all at once. We make great friends and love our jobs and we choose to up and go away again. We talk about recycling and protesting and saving money and working out and drinking our 2 liters of water a day and travelling and taking pretty pretty pictures and going on adventures - but in actuality we stay in our pajamas and read an entire (900+ pg.) Harry Potter book in one sitting. Without showering. After four days.
Sometimes we dream about our future homes and yards and children and living a simplier life. We go to the farm and breathe the fresh air and we long for the good old days that probably never were. We fancy dirt under our fingernails and slow, from scratch cooking with a small gaggle of cats cramming around for the scraps. We also watch entirely too much Holmes on Homes and are terrified of taking on any kind of home. Of any kind. Ever.
Sometimes we get a bit judgy-judgy when the nice guy with no confidence claims he never wants to leave uber-suburbia. When the girl who got knocked up way too young comes back to town completely blissful in her marriage and well-established family to the guy we assumed would only ever be the baby daddy. When the skinny cheerleader from high school shows up on facebook really fat, and quite possibly, with a bit of meth mouth.
All the while we are too afraid to tell people that we've moved back home to pay off the stupid amounts of debt we've accumulated. Because that's embarrassing. Also really smart.... but we don't want to focus on the long view right now.
Sometimes we are scared we will be alone forever. That we will be forgotten. That we aren't as loved as we always hoped we would be. That we're not doing more with our lives... whatever that means. That our realities haven't exactly matched up with the imaginary calendars we have in our heads. That the reasonably consistent comparisons to our widowed family members mean we are past our primes in the more terminal sense of the word. That maybe listening to the voice in the back of our heads telling us to follow our hearts led us astray. That we woulda/coulda/shoulda blah blah blah.
But sometimes we revel and dance in the rain at how awesome it is to be us. At how entertaining a bad date story really can be. At how true harsh words can be, and how fantastic it is to have followed a whim and a prayer and done something that makes us proud. At how reading a good book can be so completely transformative - even if everybody else on the planet read it years ago. And we've already seen the movie. Over 20 times. Sometimes we take the moment to remember what a blessing it is to have access to city and country, to be willing and able to explore surroundings with new and old friends. To recognize our mistakes and realize we are still connected to each other despite them. To stop, to listen to the birds sing their songs and know that there is nothing done that has left us with deep regret.
Sometimes we sit, in the summertime, in the dark, wrapped up in an old snuggly quilt, on the deck with a cup of tea and a dream. We marvel at the beauty of the trees, and the opportunity to share a piece of our souls. And all is right in the world. Worth loving. Absolutely.