Sunday, July 01, 2007

Connections and Soulmates and Such

We looked up and it was two o'clock in the morning. We had been talking already for three or four hours, and had hardly noticed. Of course, the normal aches of sitting for hours still applied--but we didn't know where they had come from. Could it really be that late? or early? or whatever? What had we been talking about? How could we lose track of time so thoroughly?

But it wasn't true--We knew what time it was. In fact, we had commented at one o'clock that it was getting late and how could we still be visiting? What was it we were talking about that got us here? Oh yes, it was... And then it was two o'clock. What were we talking about? Anything: politics, family, church, the annoying guy in the next office over, the sleeper down the pew at church. Does it really matter? We could have spent the entire time discussing the migration patterns of extinct birds and likely would have been there for the same hours upon hours.

We connect with everyone on some level: co-workers hear our words; subordinates carry out instructions; our children learn from us. But there are some with whom we connect on some more fundamental level. The words become a medium across which emotions and meaning are conveyed, like a telephone wire carries our voices. With these people, communication is joyous in the most true sense of the word. It is knowing that the other person has listened and cared and comprehended, not our words, but our hearts and souls. It is the most rewarding kind of communication that can exist.

Why do we connect with so few in this way? And who are they? Here, they could be mothers or fathers, friends, spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends. They could be anyone, but what if these were our close friends before we came to Earth and the veil was drawn? The connection might be our spirits recognizing each other and catching up after an Earthly lifetime of separation. Maybe they can't recognize each other, but can find joy in the familiarity of the other soul. In mythology, the idea of a soulmate is someone whose spirit was split into two beings. Each half's only real desire is to be reunited, reconnected, with the other.

Whatever it is. I'm glad. And I thank God that he's given it to me so many more times than I could possibly deserve.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Forgetting

There are people we forget easily. They come into our lives for minutes or hours or days, weeks, months, even years, and, when gone, still are forgotten as easily as the things at the grocery store that we constantly forget to pick up. Just because these people are forgettable, it doesn't mean that they were never close to us. And perhaps 'forget' is too strong--they aren't forgotten in the way that one forgets a fact. In truth, they simply slip our minds. Our lives move through phases. Friendships, even strong ones, wax, wane, ebb, and flow.

Of course, there are also people we cannot forget. For whatever reason--be it some love or some hurt, some deeply felt moment that was shared--they are constantly at the back of our minds. Images, sounds, touches of memory return at the slightest provocation: a street sign, the old house, another little brown car, old emails, old jokes. It doesn't seem to matter how much we try to put them away or marginalize their absence, they will not be forgotten. These people who will not leave our minds are always associated with our deepest emotions so that the street sign or that sound, though innocent of any intention, might call up fears and hopes that resonate with our hearts and souls.

It is this deep emotion that makes them so hard to forget. To ignore or forget the person is to ignore or forget, to marginalize, emotions that are the core of our present being. Those emotions represent the moments that we felt most alive. They are often also the moments in which we least wanted to live. But whatever emotions belong to those moments, they are the context in which we feel and live today--they are the moments by which all others are measured.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I said, "I love you."

A little more than a year ago, I was emailing and phone-calling and chatting online with the woman that I would later ask to marry me. A little more than a month ago, we finished a breakup that started a little more than a month after I asked her to marry me. I asked in June, she gave the ring back in July, we broke up in September with a commitment to talk again in December. We talked. We went out. We talked again. And then in February, we had our last conversation.

The week before, she had said she had things to talk about, but that she didn't want to do anything rash. It was the same thing she had said just before she gave the ring back. I promised I would support whatever decision she made.

I asked, "So, you don't want to keep going?"

"I just don't think it's a good idea."

"So, now what? I don't want to not be friends, but I'm not sure I could keep talking or emailing you without falling, or staying, in love with you."

"I know."

"I don't know if I'll be able to stay in touch at all. I don't know how to stay friends."

"I don't know either."

I asked her if she wanted to stay in touch, if she wanted to email or talk anymore.

She answered, "I don't know what the point would be."

I told her that I would need some time, that if she wanted to talk later, she could email me, but I might respond by saying I wasn't ready. I'm not sure now that I'll ever be ready, but I'm not sure what hurts worse: talking with her, knowing that it hasn't worked out and won't; or never talking with her again, and trying my best to erase her from my past. I have deleted any photos that she was in from my computer. I gave away the mini chess set she had given me -- "playing a game of chess" was our euphemism for making out. All I have left is the engagement ring and a file where I kept the letters she sent me and letters that I wrote but never sent while we weren't talking last year. None of it has helped. I'm not saying I think about her 24/7, but she's certainly still there in my head.

"So," I asked, "do you want to just hang up now?"

"No."

"Neither do I. What do you want to talk about?"

"I don't know."

We talked for two more hours. And suddenly, we could talk, like when she and I used to talk. It was laying on the couch and settling in to the pillows with the phone propped up against my ear. Her cell phone dropped the call three or four times and each time we called back. Just before this, she had emailed me asking if I thought it was right that we should have to work so hard just to "keep our heads above the water." That was exactly what it felt like when we weren't talking, or when things were going badly--Like I was treading water. You know, how you never get a full breath? But this time, it was like I was lying on the beach, taking my first full breaths after weeks of treading water.

It seems so unfair, that the connection that I had been looking to have back, that deep breath, only came when it was already too late. And that was what we talked about. About how unfair it was, and how she laughed so much more easily, and how neither of us could stand to hang up the phone.

But we did. Eventually. I had changed into my pajamas and ran down the batteries on my cell phone. And on the cordless. I was laying on my bed with the phone propped up against a pillow when she said she thought it was probably time to hang up. I said, "ok." But it wasn't ok.

Then I said, "I love you," and I meant it.

"I love you too." Did she mean it?

And then we both said goodbye and hung up.