80. This is why we fight

 

New love – a boy and girl are talking
New words – that only they can share in
New words – a love so strong it tears their hearts
To sleep – through the fleeting hours of morning

Bowie, Soul love

 

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I am a lucky man. I have lived my life with full hearing and passable eyesight. I’ve experienced relatively good health and have kept my mental faculties mostly intact. I’ve known pain, heartbreak, and loss but I’ve also known love.

I’ve known the love of the parent for the child, the love of the child for the parent and I have known soul love; deep, heart flooding soul love. That is why I count myself lucky. Everyone experiences pain and loss but not everyone gets to experience the true heights of love.

The world being the unpredictable place it is, anything could happen but at least I can say, come what may, I experienced this, I had this. For that, I will be forever grateful. This is what we live for, this is why we fight.

 

©2016

 

 

79. Indoor fireworks

 

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Just like fire would, I burn up
Just like fire would
Just like fire would, I burn up

The Saints, Just like fire would

If you’ve read my fumbling efforts at poetry on this blog, you might get the impression I’m building a kind of mythology around my love for Jersey girl, a kind of a Cinderella with naughty bits sort of thing. Comparing your love to meteors and firestorms tends to lend a certain grandiosity to what is after all just a tale of two people who fell in love.

The truth is, though, my life pre-Jersey was a pretty barren place. Much of it resembled Dickens’ Bleak House. I don’t mean that in a literal or physical sense – in so many ways my life has been amazing – I’m speaking of my emotional life.

The day my son was born, I began to come awake. In the moment I held him in my arms for the very first time, I discovered what love actually was. I felt my center drift out from my own selfish heart and into his pure, unsullied, being.

I was rocked by this and the realisation that I had never felt anything remotely like it before. Finally, I knew what unconditional love was and it was nothing like what I’d always called love at all. Everything I’d ever felt prior to that moment paled in comparison. Sadly, even after having such a profound experience, I went on with my life of loving others with far, far less of myself than I gave to my boy.

Then Jersey girl came along. For the first time since that morning when I held my tiny son, I felt the intensity of a fully opening heart. Again I was rocked by how complex and yet utterly simple my feelings were. I wanted nothing from her, only to be allowed to love her completely. The thought that something might prevent that was unbearable.

And that is what I try, with admittedly limited success, to convey in my writing. The sense of the entire world suddenly going Technicolor (like that moment in the Wizard of Oz), that sensation of the heart opening up like a flower (not some delicate little daisy thing either – something balls-out like a sunflower). And the passion, the simply insane amount of passion, that comes with a love this intense.

It’s not a mythology I’m trying to construct here. I’m simply attempting to find the right combination of largely inadequate words to express these pyrotechnic emotions I’m experiencing. In short, I’m using you, my dear readers, as a kind of sounding board to help me achieve a deeper understanding of this amazing alternative reality I’ve tumbled into.

You’re cool with that, yeah?

 

Words and image are my own.

©2016

78. Burn

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Put your feet up on the dashboard
roll down the window
the sudden chronic serenade
from a thousand radios
the sun burning int your eyes
like a blue blindfold
we’re marching on the spot
we’re marching home

Five times, five times I’ve walked through those doors at Philly Airport and into your waiting arms. It’s hard sometimes to believe we’ve even known each other long enough for me to have made that many trips. The truth is, this always feels new to me. To continue to love you more and more each day (as if we were still back at the heady beginning) after so many years and so much time apart is truly miraculous.

In other ways, it feels like we’ve always been together. I honestly can’t remember what it felt like before I had you. I know I was empty in some indefinable way. My life was busy but never really full. You came along and filled up my life, my time, my heart. You made my cup overflow until it became a pyramid of cascading Champaign glasses that still could not contain the all of you.

That unstoppable flood of love might seem intimidating or overwhelming to some people but I want that, require it. And now that I’ve finally found it, it is my entire life.

You are my entire life.

as long as you sit next to me
we can burn
I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth…

That’s why I get on that plane, why I’ve made that long flight five times and would make it five hundred more. You overcame my anxieties about being sealed inside a thin metal tube and fired through the air like some jet-propelled cupid’s arrow. All I needed was you at the other end of the flight to make it all okay.

see all around there’s brains in jars
and engines idling
you think out loud like you’re circling things
in a magazine
but the sound of your voice is enough to rescue me from the fireball at the end of everything

And you do, you make everything okay. Just the sight of you, the sound of your voice is enough to wash me clean of all the pain and fear. Every time we are together again is a new skin moment. We stand before each other and feel that energy crackle across the surface of our beings and know what true inevitability is like.

I will love you forever, follow you to the ends of the Earth, because you showed me who I am and not who I had come to believe I needed to be. You showed me my strength as if it were a bespoke suit, held it up while I shrugged myself into its hand tailored finery. Then you stood me in front of the mirror and said, this is how I see you.

I looked into that reflection’s eyes and saw the father I never knew, the protector, the calm inside the storm, the soothing whisper in the horse’s ear. I saw a man staring back with a steady gaze and a softness that was not ‘weakness’ as I had always supposed. All of this, you showed me.

I’m not sure why it took a soul living on the other side of the ocean to introduce me to myself. All I know is that none of the other women I have held ever did that and whatever damage I carry inside me prevented me from doing it for myself. Only you, in all the world, have this strange power over me.

This is how I know it was always meant to be you. This is why the world could end and it would be okay. We would die knowing we did what we came here to do, became what we were meant to be. There’s still a ways to go, more to discover, to unlock but we are well past the point of lying to ourselves. I can’t express how truly glorious that feels.

as long as you sit next to me
we can burn
I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth
as long as you sit next to me
I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth…

 

 

Words and image are my own. (Lyrics; Paul Dempsey, Something for Kate ©2012).

©2016

77. A peaceful sleep a thousand miles away

 

This is your sword, this is your shield
This is the power of love revealed
Carry them with you wherever you go
And give all the love that you have in your soul

Springsteen, This is your Sword

 

Is the ground upon which I stand a rock, or is it sand? That’s the defining question of every relationship. When I’m with this person, is my footing sure, or is the ground constantly shifting beneath me? At the core of these question’s, lies one small but vital word; trust. Do I trust you? Do you trust me?

If the answer to both of the above is yes, then there is virtually no limit to where love will take you. You will willingly confide everything, every dark thought, every dirty secret. Neither of you will hold anything back once you fully understand that trust is present.

Sadly, too many relationships work on the deeply flawed principle of maintaining the illusion of trust. People keep secrets from each other in order to preserve what they perceive as the other’s trust in them. The truth, though, is that if they really had the other’s trust, they wouldn’t need to lie.

You know the trust is real when there is no longer any need for lies or secrets. I lived in that illusion of trust paradigm for the entire of my life before Jersey girl. I would keep things from my partners (lies of omission) to protect the ‘trust’ they had placed in me. At the time, I believed this was how relationships worked.

It wasn’t until I met her and we began to talk – and talk – and talk, that I saw what a true relationship looks like. We disclosed everything to each other (even the stuff that should have had us both running and screaming in the opposite direction). We purged ourselves of everything we’d never told. It was frankly glorious because, in the flames of all that exposed shame and confronted humiliation, something unbreakable was forged.

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Trust, like love, is a weapon and a shield. It cuts through the fake and deflects the disingenuous. Armed with trust (both given and received) we can find the strength to be who we were always meant to be. Love feels very different when you are experiencing it from that place.

Words and image are my own.

©2016

76. Message to my girl

 

Hey Jersey,

Remember that first afternoon at the National in Frenchtown? I think often about the way the light shone in on all that polished wood and that strange sense of us being somewhere else entirely – somewhere timeless.

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We’ve shared so many perfect moments just like that one. Walking with the spirit of Springsteen through the shell of the old casino in Asbury Park. Standing in the snow by the Delaware River, your hand warming in mine as we watched chunks of ice float past the bank. Stepping out onto the observation deck of the Empire State and gasping like the tourists we were at that first vertiginous moment looking out over an ocean of towers.

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Do you think about those moments as often as I do? Do you smile in the middle of your workday in sudden remembrance of our walks with the dogs along the Columbia trail? How sticky NJ can get around July. Perhaps you think about all those great meals and exotic beers eagerly sampled at the brewpub in Long Valley, or White House, or New Hope. Maybe it’s the Beach Bar in Asbury Park that calls to you or maybe the times we didn’t go out at all.

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Our life together is such a beautiful tapestry, stitched from small moments that feel vast. No detail is too small or too insignificant, all of it matters, every single thread, every intricate stitch. Nothing has ever meant more than this, I know you get that.

The colours of our woven life are not all brightly hued, there will always be dark patches to contrast the vivid, allowing the brightest threads to stand out all the more. I know that you don’t fear the dark, that like me, you have always embraced it. How could we not embrace that which is so much a part of us?

We’re a couple of weirdos, you and me, but we’re the same kind of weird. That’s what makes us strong even in our weakest moments. It’s what makes this life of long separations bearable.

And ultimately, it is why I will love you forever.

Now I wake up happy

warm in a lover’s embrace

no one else can touch us

while we’re in this place

Words and images are my own.

©2016

75. Exorcising Ghosts

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Just when I thought I could not be stopped
When my chance came to be king
The ghosts of my life
Blew wilder than the wind

I’ve been feeling particularly haunted lately. Memories of our times together (Jersey girl and I) have begun to crowd my mind.  Thank god I have this place, this external page to write through it. A good friend of mine confessed to me recently that he doesn’t read my blog because it’s, “too personal”, it makes him uncomfortable. I can respect that. It is personal, no amount of Springsteen or Bowie posts can disguise that. This blog is deeply personal.

I think I’ve demonstrated here that I could really write about anything I chose to. My skills as a writer can, at least, be described as competent. I certainly love sharing my enthusiasm for music with an appreciative readership. I enjoy dabbling in poetry too. But this blog exists for one primary purpose, to exorcise my ghosts.

Sounds dramatic, I know. What I mean to say is simply this, she consumes me (crap, that’s even more dramatic). I think about her constantly and I do mean constantly. She is my first thought upon waking and my last before I go to sleep and she is a piece of every thought that passes through my brain in between.

No matter what I’m doing, seeing, thinking, or saying, she is a constant part of the internal dialogue in my mind. If I see something amazing or beautiful, whilst I’m being amazed or entranced by the beauty, I am simultaneously imagining what her reaction would be were we able to share the moment.

I also have to work really hard not to bring her name up casually* in conversations that – more often than not – have no connection to her, basically just to say her name out loud. Yes, it really is that bad.

This blog is my only real outlet for all of that intensity, the only forum where I get to set the agenda. So yes, it’s personal; very, very personal. I could (and perhaps should) have simply kept a journal into which I could have poured my thoughts, fears, and desires each night and then safely tucked it all away under my pillow where no one else would have to have the contents inflicted upon them. But, seriously, where’s the selflessness (or fun) in that?

No, I’m of the firm opinion that baring my soul to an entire internet’s worth of complete strangers is definitely the way to go; far more inclusive really. I guess that’s the writer in me (or did I mean egotist in me?). Regardless, I prefer to be read if I’m going to go to all the trouble of writing in the first place.

Also, as I’m sure I’ve already said, this whole blog is a love letter to Jersey girl, a grand gesture akin to lighting a gasoline heart on fire on your love’s front lawn while a rented mariachi band plays a spirited rendition of Madonna’s Burning up. And you stand there – lit by the flames – holding a sign that reads, 2 weeks is 2 long baby, let’s get hitched.

You know?

So, I get that the content of this blog probably makes some people uncomfortable but, hey, there are a lot of blogs out there. If this one doesn’t ring your bell (dang, should’ve got the mariachi guys to play that one), I’m sure there are options.

I admit I kind of drifted away from the topic there; I was going to tell you (in excruciating detail, probably) about how haunted I’m feeling right now. Maybe I’ll leave that for another post…

 

*You couldn’t see but I was doing ‘air quotes’ there.

Words and image are my own.

©2016

74. Trouble

 

Seven angels got my number
Since I fell in love with you
Seven angels got my number
They’re all telling me what to do
Fifth angels says “Don’t worry
Love’s waitin’ ’round the corner for you, son”
Sixth angel says “You better hurry
It don’t take long for the good to get gone”

Springsteen, Seven Angels

 

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You may have gotten the idea from reading these posts that everything between Jersey girl and I is smooth sailing all the way. If I’ve given that impression allow me to apologise. Our relationship is not a fairy tale, we are two flawed and damaged human beings who love each other deeply but not always well.

It was Jersey girl herself who pointed out to me the somewhat idealised version of our story that I’ve presented here in this blog. Reading back over it all, I can see her point to a degree but I can also see why that is. I’ve written about the amazing stuff, the stuff that leaves me breathless whenever I think back on it. I’ve written about how she makes me feel and who I have become under the umbrella of this love.

Of course there have been dark times and of course, there have been fights and miscommunications; even days where things felt like they might just fall apart.

So why haven’t I written about those times?

The simple answer is that those are all born of the damage we’ve both sustained over our lives. They are rooted in events that are so deeply personal that both of us have only shared them with each other. No other human being in either of our lives has ever been privy to the entirety of ourselves we’ve shared only between we two.

And the truth is the times when these issues have spilt over into damage mode have been so few as to be negligible. As with most couples, the majority of our tiffs have been based around misunderstandings and the strain of separation. Insecurities can run away with us when we are feeling vulnerable and alone. We are no different to everyone else in this regard.

If I’m guilty of idealising the story I’m telling here, it’s not intentional. To be honest, the way I’ve written it is exactly the way I see it. There are simply a few omissions that were frankly never going to be appropriate subject matter for a public blog. One of the things I love about this woman is her complexity. Much of that complexity is born of a life that few people could have borne. This comes at a cost. It is a cost I am willing to pay to be in her life. There’s simply nowhere else I would ever want to be.

 

 

Words and image are my own.

©2016