God made humans. Space dust made humans. Humans make humans. Regardless of which of these you believe in, there is one universal truth that cannot be denied - showers make you human. There is something so satisfying and necessary about showering. Showers bring you back. Showers forgive. Showers are beautiful. They are also the well from which brilliant ideas
spring. Ingenious nuggets are coded in the water, tapped out like Morse Code on the skin and transmitted to the brain.
They are life-changing, insightful, maybe lucrative, and then they are gone, washed down the drain because just like the flashes of genius that we have all right before falling asleep, we are so convinced that the sheer magnitude of these ideas will make them indelible in our minds that there is no need to do anything to keep them. We are wrong. Most of these ideas demand tangibility or they will flee. Write me down, commit, or I'm out.
Too many of my ideas have returned to the communal pool of knowledge, waiting their turn again for the droplets that will transcribe them on someone more deserving's shoulders.
Now I write them down.
Now I have hoarded so many of them. Each an individual note in my phone.
Now my notes app is the sole location in my life and phone that is cluttered. Yes, I am the person for whom "that chair", the one that collects all of the random in your house, and the red notification bubble in the corner of an app are not a thing. These things are not overlooked or ignored. Until they are taken care of they float in my mind's eye like those small amoebas that can get stuck in your vision. Things don't accumulate for me. Except, sneakily, the notes in my phone. I have hundreds of them that have not been given their turn to be sussed out, considered, executed upon and erased accordingly. So last Friday after I finished my first post and was riding high on the catharsis of actually having started it, a small thought grounded me immediately. Now what? What was I really going to write? My mind stormed and then in a rare, shower-less moment of thinking something was brilliant, I decided I could start by working my way through my backlog of notes. Seems apropos that I should get some more organization out of this pursuit, doesn't it? All rocks turned, accounted for, sorted and organized.
Let's get started. These won't be done in any specific order.
Puzzles. Bad Metaphor.
June 13, 2014 6:17 (I told you there was a backlog!)
I love jigsaw puzzles. Ask my father-in-law. My doing them coupled with my propensity for reading books (for fun!) make him think I'm amongst the most boring people around. Friday night (pre-baby, at that), a puzzle and a very uncharacteristic hunch over the table and I'm set. Copy and paste this arrangement into any other time slot (for Sunday mornings add in some Nat King Cole and a Royal Fizz) and once again, I'm set.
That being said, I also have a variety of uncomfortable feelings toward puzzles. I definitely don't want to keep one once it's complete. There is no puzzle glue in our household. I have never felt compelled to put an I Spy-esque jumble or Kinkadian landscape on my wall. I also can't figure out what I think is an appropriate amount of time to leave it complete. How long is long enough to consider something's existence worthwhile? That's a decision far beyond my pay grade. Then, once I have disassembled it, after an arbitrary time interval, I know I will never do it again. It can obviously be passed along but the universe demands its recompense, which it generally collects through socks and puzzle pieces, so I know that ultimately the puzzle's life will be cut short when its incompleteness is discovered, or worse yet, it will be kept around, useless and existing, but explained away with a quick "Oh not that one, it's missing a piece" whenever it is noticed by someone who doesn't know better. That's a lot of responsibility bundled into a leisure activity.
What I find to be most uncomfortable about puzzles though is their comparison to people, moreover, people's connections to each other.
You are my missing piece sounds cloyingly romantic and looks nothing short of lovely calligraphied across some card stock and framed off into its own little world. It doesn’t, however, have any real meaning in the realm of enduring relationships.
Question. Why dissect the semantics of a cutesy greeting card quote?
Answer. Because it is a simple, innocent-enough-seeming idea that reflects an all-too-common belief that hinders a lot of relationships.
You are a puzzle, comprised of many parts, complicated yet cohesive, so close to completion. You are my missing piece. The addition of a partner fills that last hole. Makes you whole.
So now you are a whole.
And your partner...is a piece. A piece that fits into your overall image?
No doubt, your existence is an entire universe, complete with its own black holes, but so is your someone else’s, so is everyone else’s. It is too easy to mistake the role (boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife) that someone plays in our lives for the relationship (the unique pool of shared experiences, feelings, memories, hopes, etc). It becomes about the ideals that we prescribe to that role and not about the actuality of the two people coexisting and the extreme amount of balance that that requires.
Think about it. How often do we become upset because someone does not do or say the thing we'd hoped for? The script was laid out perfectly in our minds and that boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife blundered their lines, missed their cue. We are disappointed. We are hurt. We are mad. We question their love, their quality, their worthiness. I have done it. I do it. What we don't tend to question are our expectations, the ones that originate from our own perspective, leaving us viewing the other person in terms of the role they fill in our lives and not for what they are, which is an entirely separate person with whom we happen to intimately interact, overlap. We may get to say “my” to describe them but that is only because most pronouns don’t understand how to make love last. The one that does get it best is Our. Our knows that it is the most appropriate pronoun to start from. Our stands on the fulcrum of the relationship, it is the point of balance and it is where the weight of things must go or the relationship tips too heavily to one side and risks toppling over. That is not to say that saying 'our' will make all things easy and prevent issues from arising but rather your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife will say and do what they will, as will you, and the best possible outcome comes when those things are filtered through 'our', when they are taken in the context of the relationship and not solely from the individuals' perspectives.
We all have a self-image but we don't get to configure other people to fit it. We give and take from the collective that is the relationship but we do not get to take from the other person. They are not completing us and we are definitely not entitled to incomplete them. If one still insists on maintaining the idea of puzzles, though, and simply can't get over how adorable of an image the concept can conjure up, then let it be said that We are the center pieces of this puzzle that we have built together. Not quite as Pinterest-worthy but at least the message is solid. No one is completing anyone; two people are creating something completely different and that something is ours.
Well all of this most likely means nothing but it was a note in my phone so I gave it its due and now it can go. As my puzzle-making partner would say, "Cheryl loves getting rid of stuff."