"I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other." -Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I have been thinking about this solitude as I stake out the parts of myself which need airing, which need hardened boundaries. How do we create wildly beautiful lives in communion with those around us? I know that to be wise is to hold contradictions until the ground between the contradictions becomes clear. Being alone and yet not lonely means to have others and yet not hold them.
My brother marries today. And it is Georg and I's three year anniversary, so I suppose love is on the brain.
We just got back from a luncheon in the bride's family backyard, a sprawling piece of land bordered with orange and lemon trees behind an expensive home. The day is cold but sunny, and Sophie and I snacked on raw bell peppers and kiwi slices while everyone ate Chick-fil-A. We left early for Sophie's nap, but she is still screaming in her bedroom, not likely to sleep before we wake her for the endless family pictures and reception. Georg is sick, and it will be a long day.
We won't celebrate our own anniversary today, but will try to oo and ahhh as another one pledges a body, mind, and soul to a breakable human entity for eternity. Marriage is a miraculously strange phenomenon. We live and move and breathe in a mysterious union with one who will remain unknowable until our deaths. This is good, the strangeness between us. The strangeness builds the boundaries between our restless, inexplicable being-here and being-in-love. Sometimes the strangeness sings. Sometimes it bubbles out of our bodies and makes something never-to-be-repeated, like the beautiful toddler who is screaming in her bed. But sometimes it just lays over a scene shared by both sets of eyes, a scene felt to be mutually understood, like the sentimentalized sunset or a simple watching of another person and knowing what that person would not have us know.
I think that a marriage sinks or floats for the quantity and quality of these unspoken gazes on a shared reality. This is the task: to not bang on another's chest and demand to see the secrets, but to let another life sprawl out before you, to find in that landscape the echoes of a deeper thing. Is this connection? To find the truth of a person in the world which knocks about them?
But here I am writing about something about which I know nothing. A marriage is a solitary thing, known only to the participants. And what do I know? That I love him, and somehow, he loves me.