The entangled paths of love
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The trail twists like the junipers around it. I feel it changing underfoot, just beyond my sight, even as my next footstep falls onto the path. “Where is it taking me?” is the question that thumps in my heart.
An intimate relationship is a lot like exploring unfamiliar woods – a person can end up in a bad place.
One night, shortly after moving in with my girlfriend last November, I came home to a “stream of particularness.”
Amanda was going bonkers on home decorating and every detail had to be just so. It was 9 p.m. on a Tuesday and we had both been at work all day. If I didn’t know her as well as I do, I would say she was on speed or something.
I’d been at the newspaper, editing, designing pages, debating word use and line spacing – all that particular kind of stuff I get locked into and anal about. I got home and Amanda was dragging the dinner table out from the wall while the wine bottle and half-full glasses were still on it, as well as the plates and cheese. She wanted to hang the rectangular, 50-pound mirror. Immediately.
She just painted the frame the day before, so it was understandable why she was excited to hang it. We measured and nailed in a heavy-duty picture hook. Except there was a problem. The top of the brass hook was just barely visible above the mirror. The wire sagged too much.
We took the mirror down and fiddled with the wire, trying to make it tighter so the frame wouldn’t hang so low. Ultimately it didn’t work, not well enough to her satisfaction. We ripped the hook out and Amanda went to work hanging two hooks precisely enough for the mirror to be level and invisibly suspended.
Meanwhile, I was scrubbing the kitchen and before I finished, my lady was already brainstorming for a small display to hide the unseemly backside of the oven, which sticks up above the bar counter on the other side. She also decided that the decorative mini-martini glasses weren’t arranged quite right and started fiddling with those.
I had an early deadline the next morning. I was looking forward to watching TV and going to bed, but the house was torn apart. The whole situation suddenly seemed very overwhelming.
Is this what I’d wished for all those lonely, silent nights as a single man? I felt obligated to help my loved one with her endeavors, but at some point I had to put myself first.
Where was the line of sanity, the balance between the two of us?
Picture nails, tape measures and hammers piled up. The stud-finder went “Beep! Beep! Beep!” and all I wanted was sleep, sleep, sleep. My little world was blowing up and it was up to me to keep it together.
“Enough!” I finally blurted. “I can’t handle this stream of particularness tonight.”
Amanda laughed, smiling as she repeated it. Then I laughed, too.
“You should write that down,” she said.
So I did.
Almost a year after that I was hiking with our dog (it’s technically her dog) when it ran off at the most inconvenient moment. The rain clouds were building and the trees were so thick I lost my orientation.
“Soleille!” I yelled, walking in the direction I’d last seen her running. Creaking wood in the gusty breeze was the only response for a long time. Stress gathered in my nerves like the growing thunderhead on the horizon.
There is a quote that says the way to love anything is to realize it might be lost, and it’s true. When Soleille finally came sprinting back, the impending storm suddenly didn’t seem so threatening.
If I didn’t have the dog with me, the hike would not have been so stressful. Then again, I might not go on half the hikes I do if it weren’t for the dog. My relationship with Amanda is sort of like that – we find ourselves on adventures we wouldn’t have otherwise.
We celebrated two years of acquaintance last week with a hike up Mount Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado. We followed the trail to the top and took an adventurous way down that ended up being the crux of the day. We didn’t know exactly where we were going but we found our way.
I’ve never been in a relationship like this. It’s sort of like wandering through the woods. The weather isn’t always nice and the path evolves even as I walk along it, but when I imagine not having Amanda at my side, I feel very lost.
So I put up with her moments of silly behavior because she puts up with mine, which usually involves hanging from a rope that she holds onto while I scrub rock with a toothbrush, safely suspended in space high above the trees.
– “Open Space” appears on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. Derek Franz writes for the Eagle Valley Enterprise and lives in Glenwood Springs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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