During the kids’ nap time today I fell into a shallow rabbit hole and found myself looking at all the photos from our son’s baby shower. There you were. There I was. There was my family and their oldest friends. There was a photo of two men who have both passed on recently. There was a collection of past lives, stood still on screen. I wasn’t a mother yet. You weren’t a father. We weren’t married and we weren’t on our way to divorce. I didn’t have a clue what selflessness meant. I didn’t know how to tell the difference between ego and wisdom. I wasn’t acquainted with the novel of untold emotional responses that live out within me, nor did I know the importance of naming them.
There we were. I could look at us. Months ago I couldn’t do that. Months ago I couldn’t bear it. Today I looked at you. I looked at your face. I saw the telling red line down your forehead. I knew the indicators in the way your mouth posed, caught in photo frames. You were painfully uncomfortable. You would have been more comfortable if we’d all be speaking a language you didn’t understand. I didn’t know you then. Didn’t know your family. Didn’t realize that the traditions of my family seemed absurd to the extreme to the traditions of your family. We open presents. We eat and drink and mingle. We take a lot of photographs and giggle and hug. No confrontations are made. No ghosts or skeletons hung out. No drinks are for anger or pain. We are merriment, entertainment, maybe we are privileged – despite our hardships.
There we were. We were pregnant, trying like hell to make sense of one another, trying like hell to make up for what we couldn’t understand. We were in love, but love eluded us. I don’t know why we are oil and water. I don’t know why we are attracted and repelled simultaneously. I don’t know why we were meant to come together, make these children in ecstasy, and then rush apart. Universally, I don’t know those things. Personally I do. I am wiser now. I am bigger now. I encompass more of the world in my heart and soul now. Struggle is my bedfellow, but it is a more simple struggle. I wake, I tend, I see to, I rest, I breathe, I pause to give thanks, I pause for grace, I sleep. Today I give thanks because I had time to read. I read this poem today. Described by the author of the article in which it was included, “one of those doozies by the Brazilian Adelia Prado that Ellen Watson so generously translated, this one:”
I just want plain love.
With plain love they don’t look at each other.
Once found, like faith,
there’s an end to theologizing.
Tough as old boots, plain love is scrawny, sex-mad,
and has as many children as you can imagine.
It makes up for not speaking by doing.
It plants three-colored kisses all around the house,
purple and white longings,
both the simple and the intense.
Plain love is good because it doesn’t grow old.
It concentrates on the essential, what glitters in its eyes
is what it is:
I am man you are woman.
Plain love has no illusions,
what it does have is hope:
I want that plain love.