Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The red thread

You know something is up when you are crying so hard listening to Snow Patrol that you can't get out of the car and buy groceries. Oh and then you accidentally beep the horn as you're stuggling to whipe your eyes.

Wow. Hard to say what triggered it, but it might have something to do with SR's very emotional blog post. And then Olga's response, asking if SR and I still stared lovingly into each other's eyes like in the old days.

Travel back in time with me for a moment. My life has been in many ways a string of incomplete successes. I got grant to travel to France and write a book about the small town Lectoure when I was 20. I wrote the book (in French) and only let two people read it, never translated it and never had it published. When I was 22, I got a fully payed position at Harvard medical school to do dementia research. I did the research, but never continued it as I had planned and never published anything. At 26, I got married (to a different guy) and then when I met SR (at 27) I said good-bye to my first husband. I said I was sorry to husband #1, but he knew I wasn't and I haven't talked to him or his family since. But during everything, I had running. It was my red thread. I don't know if there is a saying in English equal to the Danish "red thread" but it is something that is a constant and stays with you in life. Whenever I needed security, I had my red thread, running.

But then, when you fall in love, you don't need security anymore, it's just always there. And it just so happened that running had been a red thread for both SR and me and that we could enjoy even more together, not as a security blanket, but as a real joy.

Looking back, life was pretty easy in the US. But when we moved to Denmark, SR got depressed, understandably, missing his kids. And I didn't know how to react. I just tried to stay positive. I wouldn't allow him to make me feel guilty. And I just wanted everything to work out here so badly. Well, it was really hard for both of us and I wrapped myself up more and more into a ball. And running became not only my security blanket, but a desperate attempt to get SR to really admire me again. And now SR is gone at least 2 nights a week, and I wonder how much we're losing of what we used to share. Not that we haven't been in love this whole time; it's just different and more separate than it should be.

I have just started reading Jesper Olsen's Jorden Rundt i Løb (Around the world in run) where he describes running across the world. He talks about his decision to basically spend two years on his own. The whole idea sounded so wonderful and romantic to me. But then I realized, wow, no! what is happening to me? Why is it that I think so much in the first person now? I used to always think about us and now I think about me.

Well, when you really fall in love and you find the red thread that will define your life, you just pray you won't mess it up and have another "incomplete success". Thanks for reading. Sometimes it helps to put things into words. To answer Olga's question, yes, we still look lovingly into each others' eyes, but not enough.

Song of the day: Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world?

15 comments:

Danni said...

This might make me seem like a cranky old hag, but the whole staring into each others' eyes thing seems tied to infatuation -- which happens early in any new flame regardless of its substance or endurance. In my experience, and based on my obervations of marriages that have stood the test of time, the flame burns brighter at first but over time burns hotter. People who think the butterfly feelings of the early infatuation phase should last forever are the people who think the grass is greener and leave their spouses (or have affairs), usually to learn that the cycle repeats itself. Love and companionship are about a whole lot more than staring lovingly into each others' eyes (gag).

cherelli said...

I'm totally with Danni on this one. Sure I've only 7 years of "marriage" behind me (ok we're common-in-law but it means the same to us) but our relationship seems to constantly shift and change. There was the honeymoon period where everything was wonderful (and sexy!), then the "move in together" and learn over time to not stress the small stuff (definitely a period of growth!), then there have been maybe 2 or 3 big "silence fights" over a couple of years whose resolutions have led to HUGE advances in our relationship, and the last couple of years have been more about supporting one anothers goals and looking forward to our future plans; when we realise we have shifts completely opposite for a few days we enjoy our solo time but when there's an opportunity for a meal or couple of hours to snatch together we'll usually just enjoy that time and take pleasure in it. I remember my Mum saying to an uncle about her and Dad after 20 years of marriage: "he's my best friend and we have the utmost respect for each other" and that's what I think good relationships evolve to - the hotter, longer- burning coals of a good fire rather than the spark that is quickly extinguished. Ha - what is it about romance and fire???!! Anyway, allow the evolution to occur, enjoy each others company when you can, but allow yourself to grow as "yourself" too. Anyways that my 2c worth from a mere 7 years!

Abbie said...

Wow. Touching post. I don't know much about longevity since I've only been married a little over 3 years. But I know how things have changed so quickly those three years. I don't know what my red thread is though. Traveling? (I don't do that anymore because we're dirt poor students LOL)

I think not "gazing as often" into one another's eyes is a normal, albeit sucky, part of the evolution of marriage. It's good to have the good memories to remind you of what you once had. Take those and now make new ones. Hotter ones as cherelli said. :)

olga said...

We have a "red thread" phrase in Russian. Something that goes through with you no matter what, and is very important to you. Yes, like running.
I understand staring into each other's eyes forever is a never-happen-idea. I guess I used it as a methaphor of still being passionate about each other. As someone who HAD been married for 18 years, and tried really hard to keep the flame going (and for the most part, come to think about it, it was going), I think what made it fall apart is exactly "not gazing enough". Now, I am no judge for anybody else's relationship. I just know once we lost it, we lost IT. And bringing it back was much more difficult than keeping it to begin with. I might have read way too many romantic books when I grew up (comes with the territory where I am from), but I need that. I need to hear admiration and adoration in a voice of a man I choose to love. Don't get me wrong, I am as independant as they get (just ask either of my husbands), and may be this is why it is hard to be all "cutsie" with me. But I do need the gazing.
And it doesn't take away from the fact that we are friends. And that we have same passion. And same goal in life. Or that we argue over who's turn it is to do laundry (and which way to do it). Or that everyday's life is getting so consuming, we may not think of each other for hours. But having both gobe through the marriages that didn't work out, we know that first and formmost, partnership is work. Not infatuation, but simply work. You have to be willing to gaze (if the other needs it), to send a text, to give a kiss, to smile when you're tired and angry...
Bottom line is, I didn't ask SR to be nousy. I asked as a retorical question. As in - nice to hear you are still human, and not running PR machines:)
And I am glad you answered...

PiccolaPineCone said...

cherelli and danni took the words right out of my mouth, literally. i have had starry eyed friends ask me "do you believe in love at first sight?" and i always think "no. i believe in infatuation, sex, strong physical attraction between two people on their very best behavior at first sight".
lasting love, to me , is a couple that life has battered around a bit, a couple who has made sacrifices for each other, two people who have unintentionally or intentionally hurt each other - apologized - meant it - accepted it - moved on. if a couple has been through these trials and still stare lovingly into each other's eyes, even if it is less than they used to... that, to me, is real love.

sea legs girl said...

Danni, you seem like a craky old hag, but for entirely different reasons ;).

Well I hear what you guys are saying about the naive love in the beginning. But I am mostly in Olga's camp here. Maybe I also have read too many romantic Russian novels (can one read too many?). But I think the moment one changes the dynamic of a marriage to "now we are friends" is the moment it is not a marriage anymore and then, as Olga said, you've lost IT, and you seek IT elsewhere. So yes, romance, passion, gazing lovingly: if you give up on them, I think you give up on your marriage.

"But we're all different, and that's cool. It just so happens I'm always right" - modified quote from step-daughter Natali.

Danni said...

Just because you don't sit around all day and stare at each other doesn't mean the romance is gone or that your marriage is just friendship. It's not black and white. It doesn't mean you don't sometimes stare at each other. I don't think anyone was saying that. I certainly wasn't. But this idea that you should spend just as much time consumed by self-absorbed infatuation as in the very beginning just seems unrealistic. Of course what do I know, I'm just in a terrific marriage with my partner of 11 years :p

olga said...

Nobody's talking about sitting all day and starring. Or, for that matter, starring at all. It was used as a question of happiness. Lets not get carried away with whether or not starring is a good thing for the partnership (btw, we have a saying: love is not starring at each other, but rather in the same direction. So, here:)) I am sure SLG wrote all this not to point out how much or how little they gaze, but just shared the every-day life's thoughts. She truly does use this blog as a diary. Emotions came overwhelming - write it out. Fat ideas popped - here. Intervals get her excited - we have to read all about it:)

kittycha said...

More haste, less speed.................................................................

cherelli said...

SLG - yes you're right on not losing the IT of a relationship. I just find IT comes up in more unexpected and less frequent moments than the initial "every moment is an IT moment" phase - which somehow makes it more special when you realise its happening...everyone interprets romance differently though. For me it's not flowers, it's when say I get up in the morning to find a menu with a 3 course meal and 2 options for each course on the counter - with Brett to cook my selections on our next meal together...that sort of unexpected thing.

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