I recognize the movement of time in ways that I haven't before. Time used to creep along--tick. tick. tick. Now, one godchild is a man with children of his own; another, seemingly born yesterday, is already nine years old. I see myself aging, but I feel like me. I'm not afraid of age; I rather enjoy the privileges of aging. Mostly what I feel each day is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my life and for the lives of those who have touched me. There are people I love who would likely say otherwise. For example, I've fought (likely an understatement) with someone very dear to me for nearly ten years. We've fought about stuff, mostly politics and issues. We've fought about work stuff; we're annoyed by the reflections of ourselves that we see in the other. Retirement allows me to put down the armor and embrace my friend--tell her that all our hard times were the consequence of roles we played rather than our hearts. I'm grateful for family, QUEER FAMILY in particular. We've found a home, of sorts. We're male and female, straight and gay, young and not-so young. Some of us are actively grieving; others are grieving in other kinds of ways. Nevertheless, we laugh and love and eat and drink together. I'm grateful. It comes at a perfect time. Family lost; family gained.
I'm grateful for the clarity with regard to relationships. Grateful for the privilege of asking forgiveness and seeking forgiveness. Grateful for the clarity that allows me to understand when I have or might have been wrong; when I have wounded, intentionally or not. Apologizing isn't painful. Harboring ill will is. I'm grateful for the clarity that helps me understand that years and history are not necessarily a foundation upon which a steadfast and loving friendship is built; neither offers a solid basis for a relationship. Time is just that--time. It accounts for something, but it can't hold an improbable relationship together. I'm grateful that I can be comfortable with the reality that there are some people who just don't like me. Some are people with whom I've never had a conversation or disagreement. I'm grateful that I've determined which relationships are essential, and that I'm able to let others go. I'm grateful that I'm willing to fight for the relationships that really mean something to me.
There are few people more different in manner, temperament and way of being in the world than my partner and me. Bunny and I spend our days in endless spats over the most ridiculous things you can imagine: "Why did you leave your book on that table." "Why don't you stop ordering me around?" Blah, blah, blah. Oh yeah, it's real stuff. We were middle-aged when we met; we fell into a relationship kicking and screaming; I was severely bruised from an abusive relationship, and she endured a year or so of absolute craziness with me. She's controlling as hell; I refuse to be controlled. I don't share enough information with her before I make a decision; I've diagnosed her OCD. We're both "set in our ways." I've actually been leaving and getting my own place for the past 16 years. I've never made good on that promise. I travel; she doesn't. I'm loud; she's not. I live out loud; she's relatively private. I'm a people person; she rarely remembers a human's name. So why? Every, single morning when I awaken, and every, single evening when I go to sleep, I am absolutely certain that she loves me. She's loyal, steadfast, and she LIKES me. We're friends. Best friends. I need her. I adore her. I can't imagine my life without her, even though I'm still going to leave and go get my own place today and tomorrow and the day after that.
It's daunting to imagine leaving her for 4 months while I travel abroad. It's the one sadness with regard to this trip I'm about to take. My time with her is so precious; I don't want to waste or squander a minute of it, but we need to do the things that broaden our worlds, that feed our spirits and our souls. Our love will carry us through this brief separation, and I'll return with stories to share and appreciation for her understanding of my desire to do this. She's the best. Lord, she works my nerves, but I've got a universe of love for her and a heart full of gratitude for all she is and does for me. I'll miss her so much; the longing has already begun. I lay awake and listen to her breathe and want to change my mind about the trip. Too late. I have to believe that everything is going to be all right.