Some months ago, when I still lived alone on my own, on laundry day Sunday I would occasionally find a pair of male socks, sometimes a shirt, maybe a watch left behind by the man that was not just entering my home, but was earning a place in my heart. Its laundry Sunday today and I just took out a load of clothes with more than just his socks. Its a laundry load full of two people's clothes. And as I choose the load of clothes that we will fold, I smile at the memory of the time, some months ago, when I found his socks with my clothes.
His clothes are nice...I check the labels, they might be dry clean only. He dresses well, he does for work. He has variety, he has options and quality. My clothes can most definitely be washed and dried at home. I dress well, but I lack variety, options and quality. I gave those up when I chose to travel. Remember? His wardrobe says he has stability. My wardrobe speaks of being gypsy.
This story is not about our wardrobe.
I remember when Noe and I started dating. I remember going out and buying new outfits for our dates....I remember exfoliating my skin, butter lotion. I remember presenting my best self, the best me...the woman I am at my best. I remember when he saw that and how he liked it. I remember new shoes among the many “new”. So much of it new.
And then things changed. He stayed, he hung around long enough to want to get to know more and more of me. For the first time, I wanted to stay, to hang around him long enough to get to know more and more of him. I was hooked, so was he. We wanted more of each other. In the spin of new love, I failed to realize that more of each other would mean the revelation of the my whole self. No longer just the new, but the old, dirty laundry too. Because how else is one truly intimate? I want true intimacy.
My whole self includes the best of me and the worst of me, the happy of me, the sad of me, the healthy of me, the unhealthy of me, the strong of me, the weak of me, the pretty of me, and the ugly of me. The stains on my clothes. I failed to realize that what had been holding me back all these years in being able to be in true intimate relationship was the fear of my inadequacies exposed to another. In my single-hood, I faced my shadows and I learned to live with them. I thought I was done.
But here I am exposing my gypsy laundry, washing a load with his soft quality. Noe came into my life just at the right moment when I was ready for him. I knew my shadows, I knew how to take care of them by myself, I knew how to reveal them to myself, and how to get past them by myself. I was intimate with myself. I thought I was done.
In entering an intimate relationship with another, the kind where walls are destroyed and not created, the kind where laundry is washed and not disposed of re-worn, I didn't know how to share myself. I didn't know how to seek him, I didn't know how to use my words to let him in. I didn't know how to shift my body in our bed to tuck myself in his arms when I am scared, when I am sad. I didn't know to hold his gaze when I'm unsure and afraid. I knew how to share my best self, I didn't know how to share the other self.
I'm learning that with him. His love reaches out for me on the other side of the bed and pulls me in to his arms, he shifts his body and I find the place tucked in his arms where I am not afraid. He takes his hands and moves my gaze and I meet his eyes and I find my way. And when I am not my best, I don't impose on him to make me feel my best again. I know the job is mine to do, my best is mine to give. But I didn't know that he would stand next to me, or away from me if I needed that, if without imposing I invited him in.
So here I am today, in the middle of our pile of clothes. I am not hiding in new outfits, not re-wearing clothes with dirty stains. We both do the dirty laundry, we fold and put away clean clothes that every Sunday will need to be washed again. Because living will cause stains.
Happy Sunday! Happy Laundry!