You are not tentative by nature, but in this, you go back and forth in your mind – the pros and the cons at the 10,000 foot level, the details in the everyday living that are more complicated than they seem on the surface, the desire to simplify all of it with a decision.
You live in a world of relationships that have been at least as much about breakage as bridges; strangers have often provided you the greatest reassurances of all. But eventually strangers walk away or become your intimates.
When strangers walk away, as with friends, your reality is reinforced but you are not afraid.
You know this story. You know your pathway through.
When strangers become your intimates, the fear of when they will walk away begins, and you know the challenge is in the word “when” rather than “if,” yet you struggle with the challenge all the same.
Are there acceptable degrees of loving?
Don’t we know the answer to that, though we may advocate for “Prince Charming” and “never settling” when it comes to a man, spouting unhelpful platitudes like “you can do better?”
Are there requisite degrees of the trophy mate when a man makes his choices? Of course he searches for love and support, but what of the satiny quality of her skin, the curves of her hips and flatness of her belly, the necessity of her relative youth, the agility of her limbs in bed?
Aren’t all relationships muddier and messier than the standards by which we measure them on the printed page, the public forum, at the family gathering?
Parents do not always love their children in equal measure, or worse, they love them in paltry fashion – a child subsisting on crumbs rather than nourishing meals, on false starts and misleading messages, on piecing together the reality they create to fill the spaces that are otherwise empty.
Siblings do not necessarily stand shoulder to shoulder or arm in arm; they feud over old wounds, they battle over money, they banish each other over echoes.
Lovers may recall a day when their passion blazed for hours at a time, and as the years wear on, the fire still burns but blazing is bounded by fatigue and familiarity.
Partners hold firm to each other by candlelight; those who understand the nature of loving hold tenderly in the harsher glare of their morning hours.
You are clear on who you are, you are clear on who you are not; your clarity allows you to survive and you insist on clinging to clarity. You are tentative in almost nothing except this – an element of rebuilding trust you have yet to conquer – though you hear the words and you trust them. The one you cannot trust is yourself, still shaken, still frightened, still in this place, still needing time.
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