Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Essay on Chance Meetings Between Strangers, the Art of Long-Distance Flirting, How to Learn Patience and Grace in Dire Circumstance; or...A Love Letter For Vincent

(So, to start my first ever blog and explain it's reasoning for existence, I'd like to share something I wrote a few years ago. This is a piece I did for my now husband; I had only just met him at the time. I was a waitress in Portland, Oregon, and he was in town visiting his older sister when we met. We fell for each other quite quickly, but he went home to Ireland after only a week. I knew from the moment I met him that he was "The One" and wanted to share this with him without frightening him off (Irish men really don't respond well to such strong statements, or long-term commitment in general). I decided I had no choice but to just go for it, so I wrote him this piece for his 30th birthday, which happened about five and half months after we met. We had been staying in contact through Skype at this point, and we were about two months away from a vacation I would take to come spend time with him in Ireland to see if we truly did have the potential to continue a long-distance relationship. Needless to say, we did have that potential, and are now 5 weeks into a very happy marriage, residing together here in Ireland.)

Spring came early this year, in the Pacific Northwest. Winter broke without the usual rainy day after rainy day and with the arrival of a bright and powerful sun, I found myself breaking too. Or halting. Or maybe, taking the first step forward, which oftentimes feels like the opposite direction, only until one has the clarity to look back and see where their progress began. And that was the problem for me. The year prior to this, I had seen no progress. And I was desperate to become unstuck.

What some might refer to as a seasonal depression, I defined as simply my emotions overflowing due to rain. I have always been a passionate soul, feeling every emotion beyond its extreme. But the colder, wetter months always hit me harder. I embrace all the grays, and let the dampness release itself through my fingers and onto blank pages. I feel peace and a deep melancholy at the same time, whenever I sit and watch the rain. It inspires me and paralyzes me with sadness. This has always made it difficult for me to wade through the highs and lows. Sometimes, happiness would feel like a ton of bricks, hitting me so hard that it would throw me off and I could quickly fall into my own ocean of solitude, and those bricks would then sink me into its deepest depths. Some days, I would have no idea how to swim my way out, and spend hour after hour crying in bed, trying to figure out and define every idiosyncrasy I had accumulated in my near 25 years. I think too much. When one question desired an answer, dozens more would pop up and halt my line of thinking. Why did I choose to move so far from home? What was I accomplishing here that I couldn't do closer to my family? Were my parents right? Did God exist and would he banish me to hell for the choices I'd made thus far? Would I spend my life doing something that matters? Would I ever find the man I was made for? Or was I made to love a handful of different men at different times of my life because I have too much to give to just one? No matter how much lying around and crying I did, how many hours I spent walking under umbrellas hiding my own tears, I never answered any of these questions. I still don't have all the answers. All I know is that the exact day I finally realized I could just simply choose to be happy, was the day I met you.

I'm sure you had no idea what you were heading into when you first sat down at my bar. I'm sure you had no idea that the bartender happened to have spent time in Ireland, your country of origin, and also happened to have acquired a slight obsession with said country and its lovely and gracious people. Now, let me explain, because it is far from the "luck of the Irish" type obsession some have here. This is a true attitude of thankfulness and gratitude, of respect and admiration, of affection and a longstanding, continually felt desire to return ("I will arise and go now...and I shall have some peace there," wrote Yeats; I embraced this wholeheartedly and tattooed it on the inside of my left wrist, as a reminder to never forget the unending beauty of that country and the peace I found there and to always hold onto that desire to return). During that time in my life, right before I left to study in Ireland my second year of college, I was about as broken as I'd ever been, hopefully as broken as I'll ever be. I had cut ties with most of the things I grew up with. I no longer chose to believe in or follow a god. I had left all my friends in my hometown and was the only one to leave for college. By moving away, I had separated myself for the first time from my family. And I finally found the courage to leave my abusive boyfriend, who had spent our entire four-year relationship sleeping with other women and convincing me that I deserved it. I found myself totally alone on a campus full of strangers, and stripped of all my dependancies, I realized I had no idea what I actually was without them. It became increasingly more difficult to go to class and even harder to stay cooped up in my tiny dorm room. There was nowhere to escape to. After two years of antidepressants, I literally wasn't feeling anything anymore, except for numbness. And the absence of feeling resonated in my empty heart, louder than I had ever heard the sadness before, and I realized I couldn't stay there anymore. I had to leave. I had to get out. It could have been anywhere. It was fated to be Ireland.

There, I studied Irish literature while writing a new chapter in my own life. I drank in the pubs, listened to Irish bands while walking Dublin's streets, took trips to every site worth seeing and found myself in a constant state of awe, and fell asleep feeling complete at the end of the day, no longer needing my antidepressants, no longer embracing that sadness. I banned those emotions from my life, I denied them entrance into my soul and I refused to let them define me anymore. I felt at peace with God and my own spirituality in the darkness of Newgrange. I made a home in a city thousands of miles away and a thousand times different from everything I had ever known. I threw my stormy past off the Cliffs of Moher and watched it float away to the ends of the earth. And I became new in the mist of the Atlantic off the coast of the Aran Islands. I feel in love with Ireland and she loved me back so fiercely, I could feel it in my bones.
So, you must understand why, without ever knowing your name or seeing your face before, I felt an immediate connection when hearing your voice. You sounded like home.

I felt spoiled that you were so handsome. My first impression was that it must be my lucky day. When else do gorgeous men from my favorite country sit down at my bar and order a pint? I felt a sudden rush of warmth. I wanted so badly to impress you and I hoped I sounded intelligent or witty, whichever one you most preferred (which now seems to be a precise combination between the two, one I believe I can easily master). I tried all the tricks; making direct eye contact, batting my eyelashes, discussing my knowledge of your homeland. I felt my heart beat faster. I saw you look at me and then divert your gaze quickly. I wanted you to keep looking.

That night, I searched for you at the bar I told you to go to. After 45 minutes, I gave up. It must not have been meant to be. Perhaps I was reading you wrong, perhaps you met a different American girl who wooed you away for the week and I had lost my chance. I left thinking I'd never see you again, so I searched for you in my dreams that night instead. The next day, like magic, you appeared in human form and passed me on the street corner late at night. We stopped. We talked. We smiled. You remembered my name. I touched your arm. We made plans for a drink and I watched you walk away, a memory of a new soul on an old, familiar street. From that point on, I don't think I've stopped smiling.

It all went much like a dream, didn't it? After slight awkwardness during our first drink together, I felt like I was talking to an old friend. Our second night out, towards the end of the evening, there was a pause in our conversation, and as if it had been scripted, you suddenly leaned in to kiss me. Out of all first kisses, yours lingered the most, and it came so unexpectedly that I felt my heart leap into my throat, almost escaping through my lips and into yours. We kept kissing and I felt as if the crowded bar simply faded out around us, melting into the darkness of the night outside. I couldn't believe it. Here was a man that so desired to kiss me, he had to at that exact moment, and he couldn't just kiss me once but had to keep kissing me in front of a room full of complete strangers and with a ferocious passion I hadn't felt in years. Honestly, I would have died happy that night.

There was an unsaid calmness in our short time together. I could touch you with such ease and kiss you whenever I wanted. You held my hand everywhere we went, across tables and in the car. You put your arm around me while we walked Portland's streets and kissed me at red lights and crosswalks. I tried to show you some of the better parts of this city. We wandered through the yet to bloom Rose Gardens, but I could imagine us holding hands there amongst the blossoms in the warmth of summer. We toured the Japanese Gardens, stared at rocks in a sea of sand, kissed under bamboo ceilings and wrote our own haikus. As unimpressive as they were in the spring, I found the gardens to still be quite beautiful, like you; and like us, they just needed time to bloom

I introduced you to my friends and you fit in perfectly. At a house party, you held onto me in a dark corner while we sipped our beers and watched drunk Americans make fools of themselves. At a bar, we kicked ass at pool and I danced next to you when my songs came on the jukebox. From across the room, I saw how you looked at me. Longingly. I always stared back with dark fire in my blue eyes.

I took you to one of my favorite views of the city, an empty park overlooking the river. We sat closely on a bench near the cliffs and as we watched the trains move slowly along the tracks, you began to kiss me softly. I stared at the stars and their reflections in the water and I could feel you breathe along my neck, taking in my scent as you wrapped my hair around your fingers. It all began to blend together; the light from the buildings and bridges became the stars, the water was just a black void between the spaces, the sounds from the trains crept in with the breeze and the world below faded into silence, leaving me with only the sound of you breath moving across my skin and my skin begging to let you in. You called that spot "make out point," said it had been wonderful spending time with me, but sometimes it's good to just leave things short and sweet. I couldn't think like that. This is when I realized I just didn't want you to leave. This is when I knew I had no choice but to let you go.

Through all the impatience and expectancy in life, most moments end up being perfectly timed without needing any push of our own wants and desires. I find it not surprising that the week I met you was the same week I tattooed my most important life lesson clearly on my inner right forearm, "let all things go, so comes love." Too many times, I try to force forever out of all my relationships. I'm so enamored with all things love that I allow this emotion to be felt quite freely. I don't just let things be sometimes, my heart doesn't ever listen to my head. But I feel as if this is all I have, all I really want out of life. Even the name my parents chose for me, Amy, comes from the Latin word amata, meaning "to love." I was made to love; I was born with this sole purpose in life. But too much love breaks too many hearts, and in the end all I'm doing is breaking my own. EE Cummings wrote, "let all go - the big small middling tall bigger really the biggest and all things - let all go, dear - so comes love." I told myself to stop forcing love into my life and to allow itself to work its way in naturally. I had to be reminded of this everyday, and that tattoo came at its most perfect time. I glimpsed something wonderfully insatiable with you, an immediate comfort that could only grow, a flood of affection that I would have happily drowned in, and like a slap on the wrist to bring me back to reality, you left me after mere days together, and I had no choice but to simply let you go.

I hold all this deep within myself and it keeps me going, it keeps me moving forward each day. And even though neither of us have any idea what it will be like, or what will happen during and after the two weeks we'll have together, I know that what I've had so far has been enough to make me call myself happy again. I was ready to make that change in my life, but you encouraged it, you fueled the fire that already started within me. I found I had something to look forward to, something to endlessly desire, something to sustain myself with during lonely nights. A thought, a moment imagined or real, your lips on mine, your arm around my waist, your smile and your eyes looking hard into my own, the soft sensation of skin against skin, doing anything, being anywhere, but most of all, All I really want right now is you. You, the boy whose kisses touched my lips like an early morning Irish mist, whose voice sounds like a distant summer rain beyond the hills of lush green, whose smile melts me into a complete mess of sighs, whose hand wrapped so tightly around mine that I felt as if I was some rare and precious jewel, and whose eyes trapped me deep within their gaze, so much so that I don't see anything else when I close my own.

Catherine of Aragon once ended a quite beautiful love letter to Henry VIII with, "And lastly, do I vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things." And Vincent, with no agenda yet no reservations, I give you this letter of potential love, of open possibilities fueled by a passionate desire that I know to be true within my own heart. And no matter what happens, no matter what we find or don't find within each other, I know I'll be happy with what you have been for me so far. So I write you this on your 30th birthday just so you know that if you felt it were right, if you found it was all you really wanted, I could stay by your side for at least another 30 years and give you more than you've ever had or needed before. Because, my only purpose is to love, and I have been ready to fulfill this since the moment I was first able to define the word, since the moment I first realized - that word defined me.

1 comment:

  1. your words, and the way you use them, are beautiful. they are never quite as beautiful as you, your soul and your heart.
    ive admired you as the year have gone by. i, too, feel my emotions so deeply and so passionately. however, in my many many years, i have never been able to harness them in. ive never found the one who can make it all make sense, as i can barely make sense of it all myself.
    you, amy, are truely a sacred spirit. i know that these words seem strange, coming from me, as the last several years have found us not nearly a fraction of the friends we once were. i have always admired you, i have always envied you. you are truly one of a kind, and i feel lucky to have known you in my lifetime. it seems that this love was destined for you, and it seems you are destined for greatness. i wish you all the luck, love and happiness in the world. i truly do love you, dear one. i truly always will.