I’m Crazy, You’re Crazy, Let’s Get Married
By Lyralen Kaye
Chapter One: What’s Love Got to Do with It?
What is love, anyhow?
My partner, for many, many, many, many, many, many, too many, years claimed that love was a feeling. She felt all warm about me, found me to be precious, admirable, irritating…oh, wait, I’m supposed to be positive. She felt a draw to my being, a desire to get closer, to learn, to know me…she felt, felt, felt.
This whole time, I’m like, no. No, no, no. I’m not even sure I believe in feelings. But I know I don’t believe that love is a feeling. And besides, you don’t think about your feelings enough, and that means you get mad at me too much….
And on, into my crazy.
However, when I became somewhat coherent, I told her that love was like yoga. (I do yoga, a lot.) Love is a practice, I said. It comes to life only in how we behave, in what we do, what we practice toward the other person. Love, for me, led to attempts to be better, to be honest, trying to be kind, to hold my ground, to make decisions that took her into consideration, even when the decisions broke my heart or scared me down to my bones. Love, for me, bonds in the actions of a shared life.
Now, my partner loves her feelings. She believes them. I, on the other hand, don’t trust emotions worth shit. I believe in listening to them, and then making decisions separately from how I feel. My partner lives from her very big heart; she comes into her life from her tenderness. I live from my incredibly vocal gut. (No, I’m not talking about the scatological and all my digestive problems! I’m saying my intuition speaks loud and clear, a lot, even when I’d rather ignore it.) I come into life sensing from what I know.
But I’m the one writing this book, and so guess what? For our purposes, love is a practice. All joking aside, the practice of acknowledging your crazy, telling on your crazy to your partner, and continually putting out the welcome mat for what irritates you, triggers you, and drives you out of your mind in another person, is one of courage, insight and wisdom. Not to mention intimacy, a word to which I have a rather profound allergic reaction.
Love is a practice of kindness, motivated by a feeling of deep caring that makes us want to get closer.
That ought to make my partner happy.
I will have more to say about this as we go on…and a lot to say about what love is not, and what relationships are not.
But for now, if love is a practice, then marriage is a binding agreement to share our lives within that practice.
We will get triggered. We will fall out of kindness and into blame. We will make every possible mistake. Sometimes it won’t be all that funny. But as long as we know we’re crazy, we have a path back to kindness. Like, hey, sweetheart, I’m just doing the best I can in my own crazy way. And by the way, did I mention how today I decided you don’t love me any more because you ate all the dark chocolate in the house on the day I got my PERIOD.
Seriously. We are ridiculous beings. Capable of kindness, of open hearts, of courage, all the while telling ourselves insane untruths, and, hopefully, knowing it.
Anecdote 1: My Crazy Love Story
Let me just say this for the record. We live in New England. And that means every January, I NEED A VACATION!
So, circa December, 2008. My partner’s department at Harvard is being outsourced and as the one who makes more money, she’s, well, a little anxious. She huddles under three fleece blankets, a blue comforter, and a sleeping bag in the master bedroom, her hat pulled over her thick eyebrows—and then occasionally throws everything on the floor when she has a hot flash—except the laptop which she is using to search for jobs. Down the hall, I huddle over my computer in the home office in our brand new condo—beautiful enough even for my collection of inner princesses—googling yoga vacations in Mexico so I can go somewhere warm to practice my Spanish.
“Do you want to come?” I ask my partner as she passes the office on her way to the bathroom, growling into her chest about some Internet problem or another.
“Don’t bother me!” she says. “I have to find a way to make a living!”
“Fine,” I tell her. Then I go back to my vacation fantasies.
On about the fourth day, her hat now stained with food (how does she get it on her head? I always ask myself) I say, “I’m going to Mexico. Do you want to come and do yoga overlooking the Pacific Ocean where it’s warm?”
“I can’t think about things like this! I may not have an income!”
“Well, then, can I use your credit card?”
It’s not as bad as it sounds; I am unable to possess my own credit card because I don’t seem to be able to understand that bills follow charging things. I’m fine with budgets, taxes, and fiscal planning and the stock market, but my father ruined my sense of consequence for all time when he gave me a credit card (in high school) for gas and phone and paid the bills without complaining.
“You won’t, you know, get a new wardrobe or anything?” she asks.
“I will only charge the trip and I will pay the bill when it comes.”
“All right,” she grumbles. “Must be nice—”
“I’m spending some savings because if I don’t have a vacation I will go INSANE and begin blowing things up,” I tell her. “Probably starting with you.”
Of course, later we have to sit down like mature adults and talk about the vacation and whether she should go. How boring. My idea is that I should be able to get away from her (and her moods) for a few days before she joins me, but this hurts her feelings (I put it extremely tactfully, like, “I could really use some space away from YOU!”), and then she doesn’t want to give up her part-time days with the woman with Lyme disease, so she doesn’t want to leave when I want to leave anyhow and this goes on for, I don’t know, about ten days. And then she decides she is going to blow me up if she doesn’t get a vacation and maybe if she’s on a yoga retreat she won’t be afraid of being in Mexico by herself (since I spent years traveling around the world by myself I don’t have these fears). So we book her ticket and then she gets offered two jobs and takes one, so that’s all right.
Of course, this is just our normal insanity. Then we have to deal with flying separately. I come home from Zihuateno on the twenty-sixth of January and my partner comes home on the thirtieth. The whole day of the thirtieth I sit under the slick blue of a sleeping bag (I’m sick, I will say in my own defense) watching stupid television, the track lighting dimmed over the couch. I periodically stare at the mobile hung from the ceiling, a collection of silk leaves she bought me for Christmas. I wear my partner’s ugly bear-patterned fleece and her hat, which, considering my need for excessive hygiene (I am my mother’s daughter—did I mention she vacuumed about three times a day?), I had previously washed. The cell phone lies silent on the bookcase behind the couch, waiting for each of her five phone calls, telling me that each lap—taxi to airport, airport to airport, airport to airport, airport to taxi, taxi to our street—has been accomplished successfully. By phone call three I suddenly decide that it is untenable that she used the sturdy white laundry basket that was mine to store her junk in and I toss the junk on the floor and start doing laundry using my laundry basket. I sort of know this is suspect (crazy!), so I warn her about what I’ve done on the phone. She says, “Oh, I didn’t think you wanted it. Just take it, I don’t care.”
Therefore, my first attempt at a fight foiled, I start trawling for another. When she finally gets home, after we have a crunching hug and cling, after she’s brushed her teeth because I said her breath was stinky, after she’s told me about the last days of yoga with the instructors in their identical outfits (don’t ask) I start in about the last day of our trip two years before in Hawaii, when she lost the key to the rental car while snorkeling and we had no way to get to the airport.
“That sucked, you know,” I say.
“Why are we talking about this?”
“You never really apologized. Apologize now.”
She looks at me.
“It was very stressful.”
“I’m sorry,” my partner says.
“Say it like you mean it. Just say it, okay? Just say it.”
“But this is—”
“Just say it.”
My partner looks at me out of travel-blurred brown eyes, her thin hair falling over her tanned forehead. She takes a deep breath. “I’m really sorry I scared you when we were in Hawaii two years ago,” she says.
“Thank you,” I tell her. And then I start to cry.
“Honey, what is it? What’s wrong? You’re acting really crazy, even for you—”
“I can’t stand it when you’re on a plane and something might happen to you like dying and I get really scared and then I have to wait all day. It’s too hard to love someone so much when something might happen to them.”
She takes me into her arms. “I get really scared when you’re on an airplane, too,” she says. “I don’t want anything to happen to you, ever.”
Then, you know, we get the Kleenex out and blow our noses and take our fucked-up and crazy selves off to bed. Where we hold onto each other all night long.