Reflecting on my changing reflection
Seven years ago I asked Diana out, in the front seat of her car, in the yellow glow of a Waffle House sign. I was reeling from the sudden death of my mom, a total emotional wreck. I’d spend that first summer we were together neurotically pacing with insomnia, watching the sun rise every morning, and hurling empty threats at bosses, random guys in bars, and anybody that I felt slighted by. I had no car (no license or GED either), and I was working in a kitchen downtown, living behind East High. My days were spent baking out in the Memphis heat, waiting on busses that sometimes never came, and occasionally feeling my chest swell up with so much hurt that I’d just walk around the city aimlessly for hours. I spent a lot of time talking to myself. I lost a lot of jobs and friends that year. Timing has never been my thing. And basically, I picked a terrible moment in my life to begin a romantic endeavor.
The story of mine and Diana’s relationship is not one of unconditional love. It’s not an anecdote about overcoming or staying the path or love in general or any other Valentine’s Day bullshit. We both know the complexity of human emotions. We both struggle with navigating the waters of a self-imposed partnership. I don’t believe that there is somebody for everybody. I don’t believe that there is only one person for each person. I have never felt the need to be made complete by another human being. Because I am either already complete or I am never complete. I’m cells and atoms and water and protein and connective tissue. Pieces of pieces. Like her. And that’s beautiful to me. It’s comforting to me. Before me there was something. Before us there was something. After us there will be something.
I don’t believe in a lot. But I believe in Diana. I believe in the valleys of sugarcane and narrow Spanish streets of Colombia where I met generations of her family. I know that she smiles with the warmth of her mother’s kitchen. I know she has eyes as dark as the summer storm clouds that gather in Tennessee. I love listening to her on the phone long-distance, lying back on the couch with her hands running through her black ocean of hair, speaking in rapid-fire spanglish. I remember the long nights she stayed up with me during that first ghost of a summer. I know the way she worries about my dad as if he were her own blood. Diana cries for stray animals. She screams about social injustice. She falls asleep sitting up, after 17 hour days of working for everyone except herself. In our time together we’ve walked barefoot in low tide on the East coast. We’ve sat in the hills outside Buga and watched a thousand tiny lights flicker like candles in the Andes. We’ve passed out drunk in the car at noon in Memphis. We’ve screamed at Florida punk shows until our vocal chords were shredded. These seven years have been beautiful. They’ve been brutal. They’ve been passionate. They’ve been frustrating. They’ve been hilarious. They’ve been ridiculous. They’ve been everything.
I know no more about love or relationships or people or life or anything than I did the day we met. But I am so grateful that I’ve gotten to spend so much of my life spinning cluelessly through the universe with her.