A few nights ago, I crawled into bed, exhausted. It was about to be one of those as-soon-as-your-head-hits-the-pillow type of sleeps. The blinds of my eyes were drawn shut. A dream was so close that my bedroom was already half-meadow, the sheets beneath me morphing from linen to tall grass, when I heard my partner say:
“Baby, if you’re ever chased by a gunman don’t run away in a straight line––run in a zigzag. If you’re stabbed by a knife, don’t remove the knife or you’ll bleed to death. If you’re attacked by a shark, hit the shark as hard as you can in the nose. If you fall through the ice, rip off all of your clothes, otherwise the weight of your clothes will drown you. If you get kidnapped and are locked in the trunk of a car––punch out the tail lights, stick your hand out the hole, and wave until someone sees you. Whatever you do, don’t let them take you to a second location.”
My eyes flew open halfway through her first sentence. I was wide awake. We’ve been together for six years and she has never once spoken anything like this. In fact, I make jokes about anxiety being a foreign language I always have to translate for her. (Which is easy for me to do considering that I’ve known the language of panic like the back of my historically trembling hand.)
Before I asked her how she knew all of this and how on earth I’d never heard her speak it before, I remembered a poem by Mary Oliver (who I’ll never stop quoting in this newsletter, by the way) titled The Whistler. It’s a gorgeous piece about Mary hearing her partner whistling for the first time, decades into their life together. It begins:
(read the entire poem here)
We like to think we know the people we love better than anyone else knows them. Sometimes we go so far as to assume we know them better than they know themselves. But you know what’s more fun than knowing someone well? Knowing someone well and never losing touch with the fact that there is so much more to know. A universe of stories exists in every moment of a person’s life, not to mention what each of us might be carrying from every life before. People suck way less when we assume their vastness. My own life sucks less knowing how much I can’t possibly know about everyone I know. Six years together and I never knew Meg was a swiss army knife of self-defense. A knowledge lifesaver. I knew I chose her for a reason. The kidnappers and sharks better not even try to mess with me now.
Love, Andrea 🖤