Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Things Fall Apart

It is perhaps strange to be quoting this line from Yeats on Valentine's Day, a day when we celebrate coming together. But I find myself thinking about love, of course, and all the loves that come and go in our lifetime.

My parents fell in love the night they met, at a dance in 1949. That night, my father asked my mother to marry him, and a year later she did. This is a high bar for love. I grew up thinking the right one would come my way, lightning would strike, and then happily ever after would follow. Instead I find that love is a series of highs and lows, missed opportunities and mistakes, a coming together yes, but also a falling apart. This is not meant to be pessimistic. I love love. I love being in love, I love the idea of love, I love coupling and leaping and canoodling. But when one lives an unorthodox, off beat life, things don't take a straight path.

From the outside, we look at couples--at people too--and think we understand their relationships. But alas, we don't. No one knows the real joys and disappointments, betrayals and broken promises, precious moments and triumphs of anyone else's life. Things fall apart.

This Valentine's Day I find myself happily in love. Almost thirty years ago this man called out to me on a summer afternoon in Vermont and I did not listen. Instead, I went this way and that. I fell in and out of love. I made smart choices and bad ones. I had three incredible children and wrote more books than I ever dreamed. Things fell apart. And I kept trying to glue them back together. We do that, we romantics. We keep trying, even when no sensible person would.

And then, I listened. As a young girl I would play my Simon and Garfunkel albums over and over, crying (romantic, foolish me). Would I ever meet someone who would "read his Emily Dickinson, and I my Robert Frost"?

Yeats goes on to tell us the center does not hold.

That is so true. Too true. Yet sometimes after things fall apart, someone calls to us and we look up and everything--everything--changes. For the good. Love appears after all. And we open our arms and we jump.

Ah! We jump!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you who are standing in a life that has fallen apart: there's a new one out there waiting for you. I believe it. I know it. To all of you who have found that true love: celebrate it and treat it with care like the precious thing it is. Let's all of us have some champagne tonight and toast this glorious mess called life.