Marriage is like rubber. That's what one of the ABC's said this morning.
I was standing by the fig tree in a white dress, not for effect, I tell you, but because I'd chosen a white Mexican dress to go with my white Birkenstocks, so I could continue the Nurse Ratchett vibe I've been working since London, since the man actually pointed out that I looked a little nurse-like in my white, and knowing, as I do, that he is a fan of uniforms, particularly ones with a vaguely Tyrolean flare, I worked it, as one does. So I'm standing in the garden, by the fig tree, which I have to watch like a hawk so that I can get those fat, purple figs before the Laurel Canyon squirrels do, on the phone with A, in white, telling her about my resolution to take the punishment, to feel the fullness of karma beaming down on me. And she says, "Marriage is like rubber. You're used to bouncing back."
And that is exactly what a long marriage feels like. You feel so sure that you are stuck in it for better, for worse, that everything that happens, all the meanness, all the name-calling, just clings to the edges until it bounces back and suddenly, the next day, all is forgotten. Because that's what you have. A rubber ball that bounces along, both jarring and elevated. But in fact, what you really need, is a nice, quiet, river. It flows, it changes, it's clean and fresh and blue and lifegiving and soothing.
New relationships aren't like marriage. People are naked and fragile and tender and kind. People are being brave, baring their souls, while trying, gently to protect themselves. And there is such intense fragility. Little, wispy souls of humans trying so hard to connect. And with no foundation, where do they go, what do they cling to?
"Why do you keep breaking up with this man" said my forthright German yoga friend back in June (or May or one of the times it happened). "It's so like a teenager." And she said this fiercely. Fiercely enough that I was offended. (I mean you don't expect ferocity in a Kundalini class, to be honest.) But now I realize she was right. I just didn't want to hear it. In truth, I had behaved horribly.
Oh that the whole world was wiped clean of misunderstanding and that two people could communicate clearly to each other.
Oh that damage could be swept away quickly. But it isn't. Damage needs to infest. It needs to take hold. It needs to do its worst before it goes.
And so, we wait. We wait, we do our work, we try to do it well, and we try to remember every day to be kind.