Five years ago today, I married you under that celestial dome in San Francisco City Hall. When I woke up that morning, I might have still been a little drunk from the wild night we’d had before in the dive bar on Haight with that cool couple we met. But when we actually did the thing, those vows sobered me.
Words. They don’t matter and yet they have resonance; they are magic spells. They pounded on my chest and I burst into tears as they came to rest in my heart.
I know, and I know you know, that we’re still living out these vows, just not how we thought we would, and not how most people do.
Back then, everyone had an opinion and maybe they still do, but we knew. We still know.
I don’t know where you are and I don’t know if you’ll read this, but I don’t need you to. I also know that I don’t need to see you again, ever, if that’s what is in store for us. I feel as free as I did five years ago, driving through the streets of San Francisco in our rental car throwing flowers at people, a couple of newlyweds. My love has only deepened since that afternoon.
Today I went to a river here in Bali and I thought I might give her some of my tears, but there were none. So I swam and let the waterfall beat down on me, and then sat on the rocks that have been smoothed and shaped by the water, marveling at the power of this element – how it forges things slowly, over time, with its constant flow. I was overwhelmed instead by a gratitude that our rivers merged and flowed together, and that when it came time to flow in our separate directions, we didn’t try to build a dam or fight it – we just surrendered and allowed nature’s course. This is what we promised, though maybe we didn’t realize it five years ago. Our separation was the embodiment of our vows – to love and to honour each other.
A few mornings ago I was wandering the streets as the Balinese women were setting up their market stalls and the men were sweeping the puddles from a storm the night before somewhat ineffectually with brooms made of palm fronds. I marveled passively at the ease with which they went about their things. It reminded me of our entire relationship. We went through so much, cracked and broke open and rebuilt on repeat, and yet it was effortless. And fun.
Coming home to you was coming home. You’d be singing in the shower, or standing on one leg in the kitchen making a pot of something that I couldn’t but interfere with, or on the couch playing guitar or playing with a kitten or your hair, or you’d be hiding somewhere to scare me. From the minute we met, everything was strikingly familiar. I suspect if we were two different people, we could have stayed in that.
But we were us. We were always us.
On the subject of words… I wonder how often you say my name. Do those you are closest to know me as Laura? Do you speak of me as your ex? Ex-wife even? Or your wife? Do you speak of me at all?
You are sometimes my husband, often my ex-, more often than anything you are Jonathan. You’re J. Those who know me know you by your name.
To me, you are all things. You are the man with the name you had before I met you. You are something you used to be to me, crystalized. You are someone new who I can sense and haven’t met. You are familiar and yet a stranger, orbiting the same circles as me in different parts of the world. You are still my husband. You are still a soul mate. You are the source of a great rush of pride and joy when I encounter a mutual connection of ours. You were never really my boyfriend. We went from our first night together to being married three months later, and it felt so right. We were so young and so old. We knew these words didn’t matter but I remember that we didn’t know what to call each other. I’d call you my partner and people would assume you were a woman. I’d call you my husband and they’d assume something else.
These words could never contain us. They still can’t. And yet the small child in me wonders what words you’ve wrapped me in. The rest of me doesn’t need to know.
I have loved so many people since we separated two years ago. Expansively, deeply so. I feel you have too. My heart is wide open and leading my feet. And each lover has known my love for you. My energy seems to attract only those who can hold me in that, and feel uplifted by it, not threatened. I feel that our love blesses every person that we meet, because it was never ‘ours’, and it will continue to spread like wildfire as we walk this path, warriors of love that we are.
Today will forever be a day of celebration, for me. I’m celebrating that divine, cosmic something that we touched when we first locked eyes, that we drunk deep of. In celebration of us, Jonathan, in celebration of our fucking balls and our truth and our shared death and rebirth. In celebration of the love that’s beyond the ‘you’ and the ‘I’ and that you and I also ARE.
Posting this publicly so others may be blessed by my love for you and may know that there is no such thing as a failed marriage.