Sunday, June 27, 2010

Love Makes the Earth Move


It's Sunday and I am staying in the country because of a strong urge not to face the city, and the dust balls and remaining apartment clutter that needs to either be boxed, or given or thrown away. I want to relax here, under the hot overcast Pennsylvania skies, to stay here in the little house in Tiny Town with FF and the AC turned way up.

I have to recognize that FF is a huge part of my wanting break up with New York. That is to say, I have not only a "moving away from" feeling, but also a really strong "moving towards" feeling in me. After two years and four months, I am still utterly smitten with FF: His kindness, his generosity, the sweet Central Pennsylvania music of his voice, and his graceful body that still makes a knot in my throat sometimes when I look at him, are just a few of the reasons that I draw close to this good man and to his comforting, slow-burning fire.

I met FF online via one of the better matching services in what felt like a last-ditch effort to try something different to find a mate. When I first saw his photo on the computer screen, in the solitude of my New York apartment I exclaimed loudly and to no one, "Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!" I then saw he lived in New Jersey, not far from Princeton, and I felt a little drop of disappointment. Too hard, I thought, to have a long-distance relationship. Odd that for me, a world traveler, New Jersey seemed like long-distance, but it did then. As we all know, there are Lower East Siders who boast that they never go above 14th Street, Upper West Siders who grimace at the thought of having friends on the East Side (where they have more closet space than bookshelves, as the saying goes). For a global city, we New Yorkers are a disturbingly super-provincial species, generally unwilling to roam outside our own chosen barrios.

But then I had a completely different, new thought: Perhaps a man who does not live anywhere near this over-stimulated city full of climbers and strivers is exactly what I need.

So I wrote to him. He was one of a very few potential suitors who I immediately hoped would write back to me after the first onslaught of 500 or so "matches". After we started "free communication", that is, not checking off boxes anymore, but rather exchanging unprompted thoughts, his first cascade of sentences had me hooked: I was starting to think of it as a Relationship, and I started to pray he wanted to meet me. You have to know that FF writes beautifully, with such sincerity and such a poetic sense, that I've kept just about every word he's ever sent me: emails, sms'es, and cards. Not long after we started writing, in the boyscout style of his that I have come to know well, he started a special email account just for our communications "in case of catastrophic server error". And so we started falling in love on the page, via our "squiggles".

When we finally met, on a snowy brick train platform in Metuchen, he felt so comfortable to be near, so right that my memories of that cold day are mostly warm and weightless. We walked up and down the Main Street of Metuchen (which is only four blocks long) countless times, until our frozen fingers forced us to enter a café where he drank hot tea out of a tea pot (for the first time, he told me). We talked about important things right from the start. He gave me two Moon Pies and a box of Earl Gray Oolong as a present, based upon a story I'd written him about a full eclipse of the moon that I had watched from a sidewalk in Harlem. He suggested I name my band "Tea and Moon".

When I got back on the train to New York, my mind emptied of all but one, long, humming Om of a thought: So this is how it happens.

Since then, I have wanted him as near me as possible as often as possible.

I knew in my gut that one of the big reasons this was working for me, besides that fact that FF is my soul mate and jewel of man, was what he was not: he was not a New York City man. I had figured out two years earlier I was not going to find my principe azul (Spanish for Prince Charming) in Germany. Then I realized I wasn't going to find him in New York City either. Finally there he was, on a train platform in Metuchen.

Place matters. Location counts, and not just in real estate, either. I never would have found FF buying fresh fish at Citarella or waiting in line at MoMA. It never would have happened. Because a shy, quiet, good, hard-working, Central Pennsylvania man like FF would simply never APPEAR in that spot, or at least with enough regularity to make a blip on my radar. You don't find deer in the desert. You don't find seagulls in cornfields. So figure out what kind of animal you seek, then go to where it grazes. It took an slick algorithm to help me find FF because, like many of the deracinated children of the striving American middle class, I had prioritized the unquantifiable virtues of career and achievement over the more fundamental joy of finding a lover who suited me, body and soul. Before meeting FF, I wasn't even conscious of what I had done to myself: I just thought I must be lacking in the womanhood department, or that artists never get to be happy. Or something.

Had the an algorithm not found FF for me, would I ever have understood that I needed to put New York City on notice to find him? Or would I simply have continued mistakenly grazing the same urban pastures and coming up hungry?

Love makes the earth move. I am going with it.

Photo of Metuchen train station on a snowy day by Grant Saff

2 comments:

Aaron said...

Yes what a vote for the Truth of what Love is and where it is found, in Truth. You are beautiful in your metamorphosis.

Lily said...

Oh. So wonderful. All of it. xo