Transitions

Transitions

long shadows leap the length of my mind
twirling and spinning like orange brown leaves blowing in the lane

this year, this year 
I want it to be over, but
I don’t want it to end, to
mark another year passing where 
I didn’t “do” enough
what do I have to show for it?
nothing, is the easy answer
not enough, is the harder answer

this cycle, unstoppable 
Life, Death, Rebirth 
Life, Death, Rebirth 
in every moment of the day, something dies
and something new comes forward 

can I allow this to be?
release the Resistance 
open to Acceptance 
settle into Surrender
feeling cradled by what is

this, being enough.

Nyeen Nyeen Has the Last Word

As a child I loved being dropped off at Nyeen Nyeen’s house on weekday mornings, with the sun shining brightly on the moss green carpets. The smell of toasting bread, butter, and syrup streamed out of the warm kitchen and Sesame Street called from the TV. “Sunny day, chasing the clouds away…” For a preschooler, these were all the comforts I needed.

The atmosphere that Nyeen Nyeen, my paternal grandmother, and Yeh Yeh, my paternal grandfather, created for my siblings and me was a respite from the rest of the world. There, we were carefree and catered to, with our sofa pillow forts, a backyard filled with insects to investigate and capture, and all the TV and snacks we wanted.  I can only remember one time when Nyeen Nyeen got so angry with me that she threatened to hit me with her wood-spined feather duster. I had drawn all over the hallway walls with a pencil and only escaped the feather duster by slipping under her bed and hiding where she couldn’t reach me.

But her life was more than childcare. Nyeen Nyeen endured a harsh childhood, and a tough immigrant’s life. She survived—indeed thrived—through strength, strong will, and determination. Everyone in my family inherited her survival skills because she provided such a steadfast example throughout our lives. Nyeen Nyeen became a binding force for our family.

She was born Bowe Kane Gee in 1919 in Toisan, China, in the villages of the Guangdong Province. She obtained a 6th grade education, which was common for girls at that time. However, she was fond of studying on her own, and throughout the years, she read Chinese classics and memorized Chinese poems, which she was still able to recite into her 90’s. She lived through the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, when war and famine spread across China. Because she experienced lack, uncertainty, and death, she hated to see anything wasted. We had to clean our plates at every meal—eat every grain of rice.

She married Kwok Poy Yee at the age of 16 in 1935, but was separated from him for over ten years during World War II while he was in the U.S. Navy. He was able to bring her to the United States in 1947 as a war bride, and they settled in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Nyeen Nyeen had to adjust quickly to both a new city and motherhood. She gave birth to daughters in consecutive years starting in 1947, 1948, then 1949, and to a son in 1952.

Lack of money and resources were issues for a new immigrant family that grew so quickly. During her Chinatown years, she mustered her strong will and determination to build survival strategies. She converted to Christianity out of gratitude to earlier arrivals who were slightly more established in Chinatown. These women saw Nyeen Nyeen’s struggle and reached out to help with what little they had. Converting to their new religion was her way of repaying their kindness. Her strong will and determination also sparked her entrepreneurial spirit. She worked as a seamstress and took English classes, and then she encouraged her husband to purchase businesses, which she ran: a laundromat, then a grocery store, and eventually a sewing factory, all within a 20-year period. Her husband, who worked at the Navy Shipyard since 1951, helped with the businesses at the end of his workday. They both put in long hours, and their kids helped out after school when they were old enough. Because of their collective efforts, they never struggled to put food on the table after the early years.

By the time I was born in 1980, Nyeen Nyeen had retired and Yeh Yeh would retire soon after. They cared for me and my siblings while my parents both worked full-time. At that time, Nyeen Nyeen’s hair was still almost all black with short curls. She had a robust figure with a solid bone structure, not fragile and small. I was always able to run to her and grab a strong hand, sit on a generous lap, or be folded into a bosomy embrace.

Nyeen Nyeen taught me how to write some Chinese characters, and I can understand a good amount of conversational Cantonese and Toisanese (our village dialect) from hearing her speak. And speak she did, quite often and loudly, telling stories, singing church songs, and talking about God. When she converted, she took on the role of “good Christian” like another job. She wanted everyone to convert and go to church, but her self-righteous tactics only pushed family members further away from organized religion. When I was small, she sang songs in her high falsetto about God, talking to me about how good He was, while I sat in her lap having my hair woven into a fishtail braid. She pulled hard, using a comb that felt sharp on my soft scalp, and applied baby oil to secure any stray strands.

As I got older, I saw her interactions with my family members could be quite judgmental and critical. She let others know exactly what she thought and felt, often to her own detriment because she pushed her own children to explode in anger, yelling back in order to defend themselves or prove her wrong. Why, they asked themselves silently, had they been given a mother who constantly tried their patience, complained, attacked their character, and questioned their decisions?

If Nyeen Nyeen was stressed out or overly worried about something, she imposed the burden onto others, calling my father or one of her other children, and immediately unloading her concerns without pause, for minutes at a time. She only hung up when she was done speaking and her burden felt reduced. The listener stayed on the line out of respect, while feeling bludgeoned and defeated, reluctant to experience it again, yet knowing a recurrence was inevitable.

Once, after Friday night dinner at her house, a shouting match began between Nyeen Nyeen and my father. Though not uncommon, this one reached a level of emotional violence that frightened me. I was nine years old, watching TV and trying to ignore the angry voices. My mother stayed out of it; she never got in the middle of their arguments. Finally my father stormed out of the kitchen and down the stairs. Then I heard Nyeen Nyeen crying. This was different from other times. I peered into the kitchen to see her at the table, her face in her hands as she sobbed. It was the first time I’d seen her vulnerability. Her hurt seeped into me. I went to her and put my arm around her shoulders to comfort her. She sobbed in Toisanese, “You’re the only one that cares about me. Everyone else just yells at me.” I felt like her protector and her only hope—it was a burden that I was willing to carry. I even felt a little indignant at my father, blaming him for unfairly causing her pain. Thinking back, I’m sure both of them were unfair to each other. Most likely Nyeen Nyeen even started it all, but none of that entered my head at the time.

Everyone who has known and loved Nyeen Nyeen has been greatly irritated, hurt, and frustrated at some point by her demands or criticisms. Yet they returned to her out of respect or obligation—some sense that they owed her a debt. They loved this woman who made it so difficult for them to do so. She battered people with her need to take care of others in the way she felt was correct, inundated them with her opinions, her values, her sense of what was right and wrong.

Her family had to stand their ground with her, stand up to her crushing, stubborn, accusing ways. Was nothing good enough for this woman? Interacting with her built personal strength, growth, determination, and in the long-term, patience. Somehow, forgiveness, or a willingness to look past a fight and try to understand her perspective, made way for reconciliation—or, simple resignation. It wasn’t worth it to argue with her. Later in our lives, my relatives began to realize that Nyeen Nyeen’s behavior arose from love and good intentions, and that learning to be patient with Nyeen Nyeen taught them patience with life.

As I got older, I too felt conflicting feelings about her. I always looked forward to seeing her and remembered her with adoration and respect. But when I was with her, her critical remarks immediately grated on me. “You’re not married yet. I want to see you married before I die. You know I don’t have many more years left on Earth.” Sometimes she said that I was too fat—while piling my plate with food. The next time, she’d say I was too skinny and piled my plate with food. My annoyance made me distance myself. Seeing this, my father reminded me that Nyeen Nyeen showed her love through food. Making sure we had enough to eat was a remnant of her past experience with famine. I wanted to snap back at Dad, “You should think of that the next time she shows her love for you and you get angry!” But of course, I didn’t.

As the matriarch of the family, Nyeen Nyeen could be bitter and biting but she could be generous, as well. She helped sponsor her relatives from China to the U.S. several times in her life and provided support while they adjusted to being here. And in her later years when she had enough abundance to do so, she shared her generosity by treating family and friends to meals at restaurants, always over-ordering food so that we could all take home leftovers.

Later in life, she dealt with major health crises, and the losses of her husband, her most supportive daughter, and many friends. I watched her repose at our family gatherings, dressed like many Chinese women of her generation in a polyester patterned blouse, a purple knit vest with gold buttons down the front, and navy blue crepe pants.  She sat silent in an armchair observing everyone around her chattering in English. I couldn’t tell if she felt lonely and left out or content and happy. Did she feel defeated by old age, or was she gratified to be surrounded by her little kingdom—family members happy, full, and present. These were the people she helped raise, the ones with her blood running through their veins, and their loved ones.

Whenever I had the chance to see Nyeen Nyeen in her last years, her face lit up with what seemed to be joy and pride. She greeted me with her signature laugh and a loud “Hi hon-ney!” I loved feeling like I was five years old again, running into her strong arms for a bosomy embrace.

At her funeral service in December 2013, a priest read her eulogy and praised her strong Christian values. Then he introduced a small surprise in the program, an older Chinese gentleman who was a congregation member from Nyeen Nyeen’s church. He read a list of our names, followed by Nyeen Nyeen’s last words to us, urging us to convert to Christianity so that our souls could be saved and we could reunite with her in Heaven. I gasped in surprise, feeling incredulous at Nyeen Nyeen’s last attempt to push her influence on us, even as she lay still and cold in her shiny, plush coffin. Then pride and recognition flooded me and I laughed out loud—Nyeen Nyeen had the last word after all! How right it was, how like her, to do something like this.

Nyeen Nyeen was part of my life for so long—she was my last living grandparent, living until she was 94 and I was 33. I miss her presence and hearing her voice speak in Toisanese. I miss the matriarch of our family, the one who imprinted herself on us, the one with the long memory of those she loved, the one who had the largest and most trying presence of us all, the one whose hurts and fears and weaknesses died with her, yet whose strength, determination, and will live on in us. And I feel her blood flowing through me when life metes out its harsh lessons and I have no choice but to move forward, as she would have done. Hers was a soul that I needed to know in my life, that I am lucky to have been nurtured by, in order to grow and proceed—to hone my survival skills—through this life in which she helped pave the way. I will never know another woman like her.

My Learnings – 2010s

I get emails from Marie Forleo because I signed up for her B-School program back in 2015. She is fun and passionate and teaches valuable stuff to entrepreneurs.

At the end of 2019, she had a series of videos about reflecting on the past decade: what you’re proud of and why, what you learned and why those lessons are important, and what you want your future self to know.

The exercises serve as a reflection on how far we’ve come and can guide us into the next decade with clarity.

I enjoyed reflecting and I felt empowered, encouraged, and enlivened because this exercise met my needs for appreciation, understanding, growth, and celebration. I’d like to share my “lessons learned” part of the exercise.

Everything happens FOR me
This idea resonated deeply with me when I first heard it, maybe around 2014 or so. It’s a reminder that even when “undesirable” things happen, it’s because I’m going to learn from that experience in some way, I’m going to grow from it, and expand my perspective through the process. Even the physical pain I’ve experienced on a monthly basis in the past, I believe happened FOR me so that I could really understand and embody what it means to take care of myself, to set boundaries, to accept what is, to relax into a challenging/uncomfortable situation and be with it, to have patience, to reflect and go within, to reach out and ask for help, and to value my body and its abilities even more when it’s not in pain. I have learned so much through the experience of the past monthly physical pain–even though it was so hard to be in it at times and I had to miss out on doing things I wanted to do. There are lessons even from that.

A definition of suffering = voluntary participation in events, situations, and circumstances that disempower you
Again, when I first heard this (from Iyanla Vanzant via Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast, just this past August) it hit me hard as an empowering reminder that I can choose something else. I can choose not to participate, I do not have to stand there and be disempowered and suffer. Maybe it is more about emotional suffering than physical suffering, though emotions do create a physical response in the body. I went through a lot of emotional suffering in the past because I allowed myself to participate in disempowering situations, to give my power all away to someone else.

I am responsible for how I feel; I let everyone else off the hook
Another reminder (from Abraham via Esther Hicks) that I can choose, that I have a choice of feeling bad or feeling something else, that I have a choice to allow myself to stay in a bad feeling state or situation or choose to shift towards a better feeling state. This is a challenge sometimes and it’s a continual practice that I consciously engage in. It’s not easy but I believe it’s worth it in order to show up for myself and align my vibration with who I really am.

Listening to, honoring, and acknowledging my body; self-care in many forms
Without the freedom to move in my body, my world becomes much more limited, contracted, and it’s hard to keep a hopeful outlook on life. I know this feeling so well. Because of it, I have deeply embodied the learning and practice of checking in with my body to really listen to it and honor it and understand it. Creating some space for dialogue and language to support myself in this. And acceptance and self-empathy for when I’m not able to do what I want to do. This is a continual practice because I still find that I push myself too hard sometimes–my will wants to drag my body along behind it. But I ask it, “What can I do to help?” “How are you feeling?” “What do you need?” And I acknowledge it when I know I’ve pushed it a bit–or even when I haven’t. When I feel good, I acknowledge and thank it for the good feeling: “Yay, we did it! Thank you for supporting me in this.”

Be curious
This is so helpful in learning and to ask questions without the fear of being seen as “stupid” or thinking that we need to know everything or to be “right,” which the mind chatter has a way of scaring us into thinking. Curiosity is so important in the process of expanding yourself, to see what you’re capable of, to see what works and what doesn’t, to move forward with less fear. And it’s fun to be curious. 🙂

Have fun, be joyful
Life is supposed to be fun! Another teaching by Abraham. We are here for who knows how long or for what purpose, but doesn’t it feel good to enjoy yourself and have fun while we ARE here? The fact that we ARE here is a miracle and we get to be in our body which we can move, think, have freedom and independence, and to taste, touch, hear, see, smell is such a privilege. I am so grateful for all of my senses because they allow me to experience the world and my life fully.

Savor what feels good; celebrate
Again with the fun and joy. My teacher, David Ross formerly of the World School and currently at Andrew University, ingrains this into his students–and it’s a fun practice. Savor what feels good because it feels good to savor! And to be able to remember that good feeling in my body for a longer period of time, to be able to create and maintain that good feeling again whenever I want. Celebrate even the smallest victory. It’s a way to enjoy life even more.

I am taking these lessons into my next decade of life, continuously and consciously practicing them, and I’m sure I’ll learn even more along the way. Life is a continual process of growth and evolution, if we allow it to be. And I am allowing it! 🙂

Three Lessons from Emergency Open-Heart Surgery

Emergency open-heart surgery uprooted me from the life I was living in 2015. In the span of a month, I went from living in Manhattan to staying in a hospital in San Francisco for a month, and then permanently living back in San Francisco, which is my hometown. I would have liked making the move back home to have been of my own volition, but it wasn’t. And things work out the way they are meant to.

Through my recovery, I learned some things that help me live more fully.

~ I learned to listen to and honor my body
~ I learned to set and maintain boundaries around my energy and time
~ I learned to be kinder to myself

By learning and practicing these three lessons that help me embody my authentic self, I can continually give myself permission to learn and grow, to accept what already is and be grateful for it, while cultivating my desires for what’s next and practice being unattached to outcomes.

Living like this empowers me to align with my purpose, continually heal, and live in joy and connection with myself, others, and the Universe.

Run Away, Run

“we will drive until the moon balloons
to just past perfect for a night like this”

– From “God and When My Mother Passes” by Denise Benavides

In silver armor we step on the gas
pedal through universes,
for the special occasion when soul mates
with soul, entwining, finding
crevices to fill, the emptiness
so long suffered through.

The tarnished I/us that was, the polished me/we now who will be, future more perfect than past.

For a night like this the moon fulfills dreams,
moon beams lift us up to black sky beyond
stars blanketing an abyss,
millions and billions, we surpass them
all, shine brighter in each other’s arms where we fit,
no longer dry husks, empty, but supple bladders, full
to swollen, balloons are our red hearts
drifting side by side, red to bursting as fluids
mingle, life created, cell by cell, multiplying
like our prospects, our hopes and joys, despair
subsides, a submarine of loneliness sinks to the bottom of the sea,
like blood that is more leaden than water.

The ocean knows and carries us
across miles towards our new life together,
the one we almost ran from once,
too scared to fail, to hurt again
always again,
to be destroyed and damaged as so many times before
we set eyes on each other.

This night, we shed our silver armor, expose
our luminous love-woven skin, and speed in
to battle our debts together, settle into each other’s losses.

265 W __th St. #3C

There is the fact that I survived. What lies beyond that fact are the many losses this survival incurred. Of these losses, one is easier to talk about because it is tangible, it has a shape, a latitude and longitude, unlike the other losses—some for which I don’t have a name, only a space within me that knows things have disappeared, possibly irrevocably. As I adjust to a new life with parts of myself having been damaged and replaced, I realize that some losses are too full of sorrow, shaped like black mourning crows ascending to faraway treetops, to talk about. I can only ask questions: Will my body get stronger and allow me to create the future I desired for myself before all this? What can I release to feel free again? How can I reconstruct my life? Where do I belong now?

Since my sudden and unexpected departure from New York City, I’ve seen pictures of the apartment I used to inhabit. A friend lives there now with her boyfriend and they’ve made it look fabulous with their modern furniture: the navy blue tufted loveseat, matching reclining chair and ottoman, light wood industrial storage coffee table, whimsical lamp, new artwork, airy light blue curtains, no piles of books. All the things that are not mine. Not my dark wood leaning shelves filled with books, not my storm blue couches that pulled out for visitors, not my yoga ball chair, not my structured lamp, not my dark blue blackout curtains secured for the south-facing windows, not my candles and yoga mat, not my stacks of books on nightstands, on end tables, on the floor. All the things that I had chosen for the first space I’d occupy independently, without roommates or relatives. I imagine myself visiting now, walking across the threshold and breaking down in tears. The space that I chose and filled all on my own but never got to empty.

Instead, a few of my girlfriends emptied my apartment while I was in San Francisco, in the hospital for a month, recovering from the emergency open-heart surgery that replaced two bacteria-eaten heart valves and saved my life.  While I was in the hospital, still bewildered and drugged up post-surgery, it was decided for me that I wouldn’t be going back to NYC any time soon, so why pay the exorbitant rent for being absent? Being former New York inhabitants themselves, two of my girlfriends flew from SF to NYC to generously take on the task–with the help of a few friends who also lived there–of selling and donating all the big items and packing and shipping all the rest back to SF. A month after my surgery, my apartment was empty and a friend took over my lease the next month. I never got to say goodbye. At the time, it didn’t feel like such a loss because I was too busy being grateful to be alive.

* * *

After viewing over twenty apartments all over lower Manhattan—tromping up five floors sometimes, entering other people’s spaces or spaces that had been empty for several days or weeks, imagining myself and my furniture there, making a life—I finally found a space that felt right. This one with its easy rectangular shape, only three floors up, its high ceilings giving the illusion of more space. I remember receiving all my boxes and furniture shipped from San Francisco that first day of March, after all the papers were signed and the space cleaned out, repainted.  The moving men grunted up the three flights of stairs with the heavier furniture and boxes as I stood overwhelmed with nothing to sit on and a forest of boxes surrounding me. I remember the next three exhilarating weekends I spent at Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, and the Container Store deciding what I needed in order to settle into my new life in NYC, making the place mine.

Within the walls of the 400-sq-ft one-bedroom space, I became familiar with the sounds of my apartment. The nightly crash from the tenants above me, a neighbor during his usual 11:00pm departure, pounding down the stairs as if being evacuated, car horns blaring at every hour of the day, the fire trucks screaming down my street at what seemed like once every two hours (could there be such a need for help?), lovers arguing outside at 4:00am sounding like they were in the next room. And above all this, the normal frenetic din of the city that caused my apartment to vibrate on its foundations, buzz…buzz…buzz.  

For a person living in New York City, I spent an inordinate amount of time in my apartment on the days I wasn’t working. My space became a refuge from the long hours at work, from the disappointments of relationships, from the anonymity of NYC that causes loneliness even while being smothered between people on the streets and in subway cars.  I think this happened because of my south-facing windows. A few months after moving in, during one homebound weekend, I experienced the phases of sunlight moving through my apartment over the span of a day. These phases I didn’t get to see while working 10-12 hour days at the job that brought me to NYC—leaving in the morning when the sun’s early rays cast the apartment in drab grays and returning home most nights to dim luminescence from the streetlamps, allowing me enough vision to fumble the switch on the nearest lamp.

But I discovered this: for about four hours during the day, the sun shines hot and bright through the windows and the whole apartment is a sun-drenched happy place where bold colors—blues, yellows, browns, a shock of purple—and warm feelings are all you see and experience. That’s when I felt the freest to do anything. Usually I played my music loud and read, or wrote. Or danced and practiced yoga, or napped. I did whatever I wanted because it was just me in that space, with room enough for my stress to dissolve and my hopes to expand. I reveled in the strength of my body and the whims of my mind, believing life could be nothing other than this. As the sun slowly finished its day’s work, arcing below the tall buildings, I was like a cat, curling myself into the shrinking panels of warmth cast on the hardwood floor, trying to reap the vitamin D benefits of some UV, chasing strips of comforting light before they disappeared. Then, without the sun to placate me, I would get ready to go out for another New York City night.

* * *

On a 70-degree February day in San Francisco, ten months after my surgery, the ocean called to me as it used to when my thoughts became tangled and needed unwinding.  I walked down Balboa Street to the ocean and passed under the wide windows of a second-story apartment, one of many in a tall, light gray block of a building. The windows were thrown open for the occasion of the warmest day in the city so far. The bright notes of recorded acoustic guitar music drifted down to me. It was an older genre, I think. Maybe 1960’s or 70’s. The upbeat tune and melodic notes were the perfect music for a warm, sunny afternoon. The music immediately lifted my mood and filled me with all the hope that a carefree Sunday can bring to someone on her way to see the ocean, wanting to feel the expanse of it ease her loss. I wished I knew the song and I felt like I could be friends with the person playing that music. I even felt attracted to the person without knowing him, just because of that music. I was in love with everything for those few minutes, after the music entered my body, made me groove and snap my fingers to the beat in its wake while I walked along. Toward the ocean in anticipation. So pleased to be there.

On my walk back from the ocean, feeling consoled, I passed by the apartment again. Its windows were still wide open but music no longer drifted out of them. I didn’t realize that I’d been hoping to hear the music again until I felt the disappointment in its absence. I took a good look at the apartment, trying to get a glimpse of the tenant through the open windows, maybe get his attention, yell up to him and ask him what song he’d been playing earlier. That’s when I noted it was a south-facing apartment. When the sun is out and as it arcs from east to west, its rays stream through those and all the other windows facing south the entire day. I remembered an exercise from a writing book that I had just read: “Write ‘Things I didn’t know I loved.’” One response those south-facing windows elicited from me was this:

The freedom of walking around naked in a sun flooded apartment that was all mine.

I wished to live in that apartment building then, in longing for my apartment in NYC.  And I remembered myself in that sun flooded apartment, full of hope and expectancy, ready, and awaiting my next NYC experience. But as the sun begins to arc low, the panels of warmth cast on the hardwood floors shrink and fade away, along with that version of myself. I am here now. But over there, my New York City apartment: the only space that has ever truly been all mine in a time when I was free, whole, strong, and certain of what I could accomplish.

I write because

Written on July 18, 2016

I write because no one else is me and so no one else knows how my experiences have affected me, though my feelings about these experiences are likely universal. I write because maybe the lessons I’ve learned will shed light onto other people’s lives.

I write because voices like mine will only be heard if they are put out there to be heard, not kept silent or held down. I write because I have ideas to share, experiences to share, stories to share. I write because from writing, I learn more about my life and myself and my thoughts and my actions and what I think about the people and the world around me.

I write because no one I know understands what it feels like to be knocked down in the prime of their lives, without having accomplished certain things worth accomplishing. Being knocked down without someone to stand behind you to hold you up, no children to represent you in your absence.

 

Start with…

Written on July 18, 2016

Even after all this, I still believe–at least, I feel like–I have all the time in the world.

This feeling comes from the freedom of being untethered, floating around like a balloon and going in whatever direction the wind takes me. No ties, no binds, no man, no children, the freedom in that is expansive. Yet feeling lost and lonely within that expanse becomes easy…

Inflates to a sort of nothingness where feeling alone, like being single will never end, no end in sight, reverberates and repeats, creating a hall of mirrors where you’re looking at yourself standing alone, all around you, you’re standing alone to infinity. And beyond.

The silence fills your ears, stuffs them with cotton and you’re under water in your aloneness. Your aloneness echoes all around you, the sound of nothing deafens you and you continue your stance, alone. In solitude, the silence thunders.

The twitters of birds outside your window become snatches of the only conversation you overhear, the gossip between people who have hung out too long or often with each other so that all they can talk about is other people’s lives. The cars passing by, their tires’ friction against the asphalt are whispers to you, muttered under one’s breath, that you just couldn’t catch.

Then suddenly–finally?–you are not alone any longer. You are part of a twosome. Bliss fills every moment for you, for a while, but the bliss eventually recedes and you are left with real life. Mundane, real life as part of a twosome. Problems to solve as part of a twosome, boredom to overcome, fights to resolve, conflicts, compromises, sometimes even sacrifice. And don’t say it: resentment. Deep despair as part of a twosome.

With whom are you willing to struggle? With whom are you willing to fight and make up? With whom are you willing to cry, to be ugly, to be fat, to deteriorate, to be at your worst, to be scared, to fail? To love and support and carry to safety.

To be with someone else means all this and worse–if it is at all worth it.

We have a dream of our soulmate and everything is perfect. But we wake up before real life appears because it’s the easier thing to do. Leave when it is perfect. That’s fear, cowardice. Stay even when it gets hard because you want it to get better. That’s love. Wanting to work through a challenge. That’s love. When you stop wanting to work, that’s no longer love. That’s giving up.

Wanting to stay is the most important thing. Feeling that it’s worth it to stay despite the cruelness of life. But both people must feel this way, not just one. One won’t work.

Sometimes staying isn’t glamorous or perfect, but it has to be right for both people. And love must still be present. Don’t leave because you feel too vulnerable. Leave if it’s not the right fit, though.

But to want to be in a relationship you have to embrace the ugliness of relationships. The mundane aspects along with the beautiful, blissful pieces. You have to be ready to fight and still want to be on the same team with each other.

When we think about love and relationships, we usually don’t think about the mundane aspects of them. We think about the excitement and electricity of those first pulsating feelings throbbing through the heat of our bodies when we are near the object of our desire.

We don’t think about the eventual laundry we’ll do together, the dishes, the cleaning, cooking, changing the sheets every three weeks. And maybe we shouldn’t think about all that right away, and rightfully so. But as mature adults, we must consider all of this, keep it in mind, maybe even imagine ourselves doing those things with the object of our current desire or infatuation.

This is mostly a reminder for myself and for anyone who has been told that maybe they’re “too picky.”