9.12.2010

A Life of Seasons


A relationship, like our planet, exists in cycles. There is a fertile spring, where hopes and promises and kisses are sown like seeds in a welcoming earth.  We can then watch those seeds bloom into contentment during a long (hopefully) steamy summer, after which we begin experiencing a slow down. It's still pleasant, but an unmistakable chill has entered the air. It's not as fruitful as it once was, but it offers its own form of beauty and reward. Following this, of course, is the winter, where the landscape is barren and blanketed by cold, and everything that was lively and vital in the earlier seasons is either dead or sleeping.

Most people get divorced or break up during these winters, having lost hope of a coming rebirth. In many cases, they're justified. Not everyone has the time or the patience to outlast an ice age.

Some people use this to argue against monogamy in general. They say it's unnatural. That nothing is permanent and that all good things eventually run their course. For them, this may be true. So they insist on living in a perpetual spring and summer, experiencing the cold only as long as it takes them to put their shoes back on and bolt to a sunnier climate. I agree with them on one count: nothing is permanent. Everything is evolving or devolving, degrading or healing. Even love can disappear under a layer of frost, only to be revealed--perfectly preserved and as vital as ever--after a spring melt.

But this doesn't negate monogamy.

I think some may fear a life with one person, because it means putting your soul on the line. Someday, that person could leave or die, leaving you old, used up, and alone. My grandfather was recently hospitalized for a mysterious health condition and as of this writing, his prospects are looking rather bleak. He and my grandmother have been married for over 50 years. I try to imagine how many seasons their own marriage must have experienced over those decades. She remains so stoic in the face of the immense fear she must certainly be feeling at the idea of losing her life's one true partner. I try putting myself in her shoes and I almost turn to jelly at the thought. But I also know that the certainty of love and eventual loss outweighs any alternative, and I see a certain beauty and maturity in couples that have weathered so many storms. They know what's coming, and it's easier to see it and invite it in when you're in your eighties than in your thirties.

I wonder where my life would be now if I continued to run at the first sign of a chill, or if I believed that a longer than usual winter was the sign of an ice age. I'm not saying there is anything unnatural or natural about settling down with one person for the rest of your life. It's all in what you're comfortable with. I can say with certainty, after having tried it both ways, that while I can love many people for various reasons, the part of me where romance, sex, and true devotion lives can only belong to one person. I can transfer it (at great cost and peril), but I cannot divide it. And I have realized that when the winter comes, I must work harder to protect that part of me from the cold.

We hunker down, stay warm. We love each other as best as we can, even if cabin fever is starting to set in and make us do and think things we never would have when the sun was freely giving its warmth. I often find that just when I'm aching to break free, I throw open the door to discover new warmth, and little sprigs of life popping up through the melting snow.

5 comments:

  1. This needs to be on a billboard somewhere.

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  2. a beautiful post, Allie. I can so relate.

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  3. I love that I have your blog right on my home page and get to see when you update it. This one is so relevant and timeless. I used to call your spring 'the carnival ride'. That endless outpouring of romance when we first meet someone is so easy. I wanted to be with someone who realized that when that initial ride ended, we would hold hands as we got off the ride. I agree that many people are addicted to the beginnings and once that's run it's course, it's on to the next relationship. (I have done this myself) I don't think it's wrong, it depends on what you want. Now though, I have the same temperament as you do. I want the person I'm with and just him. I want to explore new terrain of love that I never even knew existed. I know that comes with pain but it's worth it. I love the images you chose--the seasons with the tree and the new bud coming out of the snow. Ahhh...I feel aligned now. Thank you, Allison.

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  4. get outta my head woman! seriously this was a beautiful piece! thank you!

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  5. That was lovely.

    If only both partners in a relationship felt this way instead of running for warmer climes all the time. :/

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