Friday, February 7, 2014

Three years later....

It's been awhile, hasn't it? No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth, all my fingers aren't broken and we have at least one working computer. I have no excuses except that I was too busy living to write. This takes time, you know.

I got an e-mail from a dear friend recently and she asked me a very pertinent and thoughtful question. She does that a lot. She asked me how we are managing this time when "the romance of geography wears off and eventually the romance of union gives way to the hard work of making your way in the world together." You can't get much more to the point and thoughtful than that.

There's just no short answer for this question. To say everything's fine or peachy or great just doesn't say enough.

She's every relationship (marriage or friendship or working, whatever) there is that honeymoon period. It's hard to remember that no matter how all-encompassing and deep that period may feel, it's really just dipping your toes into the pool. Everything is new and endearing and special. Add to that a geographical location that's pretty much eye candy and it's like being on a year long first date or like being on a never-ending vacation.

I can never forget that I'm in Italy. I'm here because my heart chose this place; not for a job or because I was born here...not even for a lover. Because this place called to me before I fell in love with a man. The romance of geography will recede a bit but I doubt it can ever go away completely. I can never be blase about it. Leif has the same respect for the country we live in. After all, he moved here years before I did simply because it called to him too.

That doesn't mean it doesn't drive us crazy sometimes, that we don't wish Italians could, just once in awhile, be more American or Swedish about some things. But after a short moment of complaining we shrug and agree that if they were any other way Italy wouldn't be the same. We cheerfully (eventually) accept standing in line for hours, seemingly random and over-the-top bureaucracy and that deja vu feeling that happens daily when one lives in a country that's twenty years behind everyone else in many areas.

It's also true that after a long distance courtship being in the same physical space is pretty heady stuff. We spend enormous amounts of time together, much more than most couples do because neither of us has a Job. We have work that we take on and now we are starting our own company so we have a little more control over the work we choose to do, but much of our work happens together.

I think our strength lies in the fact that we also play together. He's teaching me to ride a bike. You'd think once I mastered the concept of balance the lessons would be over, but road cyclists are interesting (to use a Minnesota term) people with a complex code of ethics and even more complex equipment that can't be learned in twelve easy lessons. We eat together. Every meal is an occasion. We aren't consuming calories and nutrition, we're sharing aromas and tastes and conversation and creating an experience together. We rarely rush through the meal to get to something else. Something else will surely wait till we get there, and if not there are plenty of other something elses to do.

Maybe the semi-short answer to her question would be that we wake up every day and know deep in our bones that this is the place and the person we want to be with. Period.