Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Art of Building a Life

I love to watch people build lives. No, I don’t mean in the biological Frankenstein sense! I mean I love to watch two people who have previously had quite separate lives build one together. Like my best friend is doing right now... like my sister is doing right now.... like I am doing right now.

There’s truly an art to it. It isn’t just about flinging two people together and saying, “Alrighty, so you two will be together forever, marry, have babies and live in a three bedroom house in a suburb, have nice jobs and eat dinner together every evening at the dining table while discussing the events of the day.” Divorce statistics, after all, speak for themselves. It’s not that easy.

Sometimes two people will think they can build a life together but as they start slotting pieces together they are left with unpatchable holes and this won’t keep the water out. Those people sometimes simply have to abandon the build and move on to other things individually.

There will be holes in almost every relationship at some point. Some can be repaired. I’ll use my sister as an example. She can’t have any more children. She fell in love with a man who desperately wants children of his own. As they began building their life it became evident this could be problematic. There a gaping hole in the roof and no single tile to fix it. So he went away. And she was sad. She was sad for a long time. But then he returned with a solution. He didn’t have one single slate to repair the gap. He had one that was too small and so they both sacrificed bits of themselves to pad it out a little. I’m going off on one with the analogies here... essentially they decided upon adoption. He is going to adopt my sister’s baby officially and they plan to adopt more. For love, he was prepared to make that sacrifice.

Nothing is perfect. Everything is flawed in one way or another and the flaws (and how we work around them) are what makes humanity beautiful.

I’m not perfect. I’m moody in the morning, I am impatient... I can be patronising. I’m sometimes arrogant. I won’t abide stupid and narrow minded people (which makes me a people-snob lol). But I think when you’re building a life with someone, it can only be with someone who is endeared to your flaws.

I say of myself: arrogant, moody, impatient, patronising and people snobbish. Chloe says I have a “sexy cockiness” (what? Lol), I’m eager to get things done, I’m smart and keep good company.

Chloe says of herself that she’s over-sensitive, that she speaks before thinking and that she lets things beyond her control get to her. I say that she’s sweet and caring, that she speaks her mind and that she’s passionate about the world she lives in.

The life we’re building together isn’t perfect, by any means. I find myself constantly worried about whether she is really ok being a step mother to a grieving child. She tells me over and over again, “I love him as much as I love you.” But she knows one day she could be (however unlikely it seems) a target for resentment. Or that one day he could rebel against her. She doesn’t care.

“I love him. He’s grieving. Grief does funny things to people sometimes and that just makes me want to be there for him more, no matter what happens.”]

Our life isn’t perfect.... we can’t live every single day like the two days we spent in the Lake District this weekend, for example. Because reality and practicality, responsibility and reason means that you can’t simply set up “perfection,” and live it. Our life is busier than we might likei t – but that makes us appreciate our quiet time all the more.

We argued last Wednesday for the first time. It lasted all of three minutes and ended in a kiss. Always a good way to end a mini fight. I know there will be fights in the future. I don’t know of any relationship that remains argument free. If you live with someone and never, ever irritate them then there’s something plastic about it – artificial even. And if you are irritated by someone you live with and cannot tell them, then you are in a relationship where you cannot express yourself freely. Arguing is natural from time to time... the true test of how well a relationship functions is in how those arguments end, if you ask me.

Anyway, I am waffling again.

I’m feeling lucky today (again!) and I’m still so grateful that I can watch the people I love experiencing the same happiness I am experiencing.

There’s a true art to building a life... and it’s compromise and an appreciation of one another’s flaws, a shared vision and equal desire to attain it.

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