I’m having trouble lately with staying mad. Mr. Makeout Music and I have (I’m almost sure) moved on from being in a fight to just taking space from each other. We’ve communicated this to each other in the most adorable way ever:
Last Wednesday during Lego Day, he stopped in to reprimand some kids in such a protective and manly way, telling them (in his dreamy a-little-bit-mad voice) to be respectful of me and each other. I looked up from my coloring, smiled, and offered him a high five. He took it and I felt just a little more whole.
The kids and I have been working on a kindness chain—a paper chain where each link is something kind you could do or something kind someone has done for you. He hung around and wrote like five links, the last one being “Giving people gold stars for existing.” Which is a thing that I do, so I knew he still felt friendly toward me, still thought of me as the person I was before November’s storm of grief and drama. Just that little visit was enough to start up the daydream machine again, so I’m still keeping my distance.
Saturday, though, used to be our main hang-out-and-make-art-while-he’s-supposed-to-be-working day. There may still be a stack of his art in my middle desk drawer as souvenirs. While I was getting ready for work last Saturday, I accidentally listened to the wrong toward-the-end-of Hamilton song so I went in with the achingest of hearts.
I was able to pour a lot of that love into the Thankfulness Christmas Tree I made with the kids, but I wanted to reach out to Mr. Makeout Music a little, so I made him a card with a pretty, delicate blue paper snowflake glued on and wrote:
“Space is awesome.
But/and I miss you a whole bunch.
I hope your life is full of awesome.
Poor editing that I used the word “awesome” twice, but after I gave it to him and he was sweet and thank you-y about it, I felt a million times better and much closer to the part of myself that feels missing while I’m missing him.
It reminded me of the brave day I let myself fall for him. He gave me a paper of his to read, a paper about rising to the occasion of fatherhood. I liked it so much and felt so grateful that he’d let me read it that I COVERED the margins in gold stars, intricate pink flowers, vines, and tiny purple asterisks. (No hearts, but those would come soon enough.)
I did all this in full view of my boss and everybody. One of the kids asked what I was doing and I (only a little bit sheepishly) said “My friend let me read his homework and I really liked it.”
It’s part of my routine to sit around work and doodle while waiting for my programs to start, but I knew this time I was being a little ridiculous, a little carried away, but something just unlatched and a light shined out of my heart, golden yellow like the million stars I was drawing. Something inside me said “Give, it’s safe.” So I did. I folded it up in a #10 envelope with the library’s return address on it, like an envelope could contain the ridiculousness.
That was the first day we really talked, the first time I stood next to him and really felt next to him. I don’t’ want to reduce him to just a Muse, though he certainly IS one, but there was something about our connection, something in his generosity of spirit that made me want to give him and the world every loving thing I had. While I miss his companionship very much, I also miss being able to give and give and give—to sing out his name, to lavish him with praise (and accept his), to unabashedly hand him every piece of art I felt like making him, without feeling the need to ask (as I did with the card on Saturday) “Is this okay?” I miss and value so much the flow of it, of him, of us.
I wonder sometimes, in the midst of that glitter-storm of generosity, why it was so important that he didn’t love me back in the same ready, open way. But it is, and I know every day that I take care of myself with space and grieving is a day closer to the next love, the next unlatching.
It’s hard not knowing whether he and I will end up friends or if our whole thing is just beautiful and done, but if I can love him in little ways, if I can visit the selflessness, softness, risk and vulnerability of those first margin-doodles, maybe I can stay in touch with the me that he was drawn to, maybe even become more like her. I have a lot of thinking to do about service, submissiveness, and unconditional love, and I’m so proud of how I got to these realizations. I’ll never stop loving him for it, even as I learn to let him go.