Love is a 40-year-old woman choosing to be trapped in a car barreling through the Midwest for 7 hours with two small children who won’t stop singing the Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey”–only they’ve made up their own words to the song (chunky monkeys and all). All to spend time with Love.
I recently spent a long weekend visiting one of my very best friends. I love my Friend. She is the first person I met in college. I have known her for over 22 years, over half my life. We met the first night we moved onto the same floor of the dorm. We were inseparable for years after that moment. And by that, I mean people had no idea what our names were. They said both our names in one breath, so that it was one name. So if our names are Jane & Barb, the greeting usually went, “Hi JaneandBarb!” On the rare occasion that one of us was flying solo, people greeted me (or her) with an unsure and tentative, “Oh, Hi….”
We are very different people, in our backgrounds, our styles, our preferences. But we clicked the moment we giggled at each other and ran down to the bars. Our fate was sealed over a fishbowl full of cheap beer. Our lives have since taken decidely different paths, each true to who each of us are. She is married to a most wonderful man, and they have created the most loving family and home and existence you can imagine—very Rockwellian. I am a divorced Momma of two lovely children, and our home and existence is loving and lovely too. Just different and a little rougher around the edges. And to this day, people we went to college with remember us as a Dynamic Duo of sorts. With the Super Powers to get ourselves in and out of trouble, escape true tragedies while wreaking mild havoc, giggle non-stop like tween girls, and occupy bar stools like homeless squatters.
And it has taken all these years for us to realize that one of us hated being part of this Dynamic Duo. Don’t get me wrong, we love the other dearly and love our friendship and our adventures. But see, I was tickled pink that anyone even acknowledged my existence–solo or paired. Apparently she was not a fan of people not being able to identify her by her name, and rightfully so. She truly believed no one had any idea who she was, she didn’t think people remembered her.
Turns out everyone remembers her. But the real issue is she was never a fan of not having her own identity, of not being seen. Of not being valued as her own individual. She realized early on that she was being seen only in the context of our Dynamic Duo-ness. And don’t we all just want to be seen? Truly seen and heard?
To be acknowledged and appreciated for who you are, what your strengths are, what your quirks are, what your preferences are–that is being seen. This past weekend was filled with love, because we see each other. We are so different in so many ways, and we smile at each other knowingly, and we know when to shut our mouths (most of the time), and when to laugh AT each other, and with each other, and when to just be side-by-side with each other. That is love. We would not make the same choices or want the same life the other has made. But we support the person and the choices. I see her and I understand the choices she makes, and she does the same for me. And we hold tender space for each other that is filled with a gentle love that is sometimes rocked by an infectious laughter that makes me pee just a little. That is love.