Let me take a quick break from the peanut gallery to answer a question - and a good one - from my mom. She recently pointed out that I seem to be exhibiting a dangerous pattern. That pattern being that my writing is pretty much her only source of information about me because I'm crazy busy and terrible at returning phone calls, but even more concerning, that I appear to be writing about Joel in a way that strikes a similar chord to the way I wrote about Dave during my marriage and how can she possibly tell the difference? How can she know I'm okay?
Way to cut to the chase, Mom!
But she's right - I hid so much about my relationship with Dave that how COULD anyone tell the difference? My mom lives two states away, so it's not like I can SHOW her the difference, even though that difference is obvious to anyone who's ever seen Joel Gunz and I in the same room together.
But how can I do him justice on my blog?
The truth is - I can't. But what follows here is my best try...
I was on the way home from Joel's gig a few weeks ago when I found myself obsessing over him like a teenage girl (you would, too, if you heard his epic drum solos). He threw his arms around me after that two-hour set and his drummer-boy sweat soaked through the silk blouse I was wearing over my capri pants. When I tried to lift my shirt up on the freeway, so I could smell his sweat on me with one hand, while I held the steering wheel with the other, I realized that I had never loved him more than I did in that moment. Shit, I've never loved him more than I do right now as I'm writing this post.
I almost hesitate to write about it because our therapist once called our love "sacred" and I think she might be on to something. (She also looked me in the eyes during a recent session and said, "Amanda, I've been thinking about your vagina ALL WEEK.") (She's a keeper.) But I think she's right - there's something almost holy about our unholiest of communions.
Joel and I have never made any promises to eachother, except for that pinky promise we made to never get married. Ever. For any reason. We both simply prefer the idea of waking up every day with a choice. I'm not with Joel because I have an obligation to him; I'm with him because I want to be with him. Today. Which, as our recent trip to the ER reminded me, really is all we get.
It's funny because even though I'd written it in fiction, I'd never actually experienced that phenomenon where touching someone else gives me more physical pleasure than being touched myself. I love Joel's bald head, for example (HUGE SHOCK THERE, I know), and even though he gets zero thrill from my persistent fondling of it (in fact, sometimes it even annoys him), I don't care because I'm copping that feel for ME, not for him. I simply need to touch him.
[In line waiting to board the Looping Thunder at Oaks Park on Tuesday. Joel was a wee-bit nervous. I was a wee-bit busty, which is precisely how I calmed him down.]
But it's not just the physical that makes our love so sacred. It's that Joel is one of the only people I've known who has ever really SEEN me. I've been thinking a lot about why I've felt the need to defend myself against the accusations certain people make (sometimes HORRIFICALLY publicly) against me. It all comes down to being SEEN. Not everyone is going to see the me I really am. And no amount of discourse - ugly, pleasant or otherwise - is ever going to change that. I need to let it go and accept the fact that it doesn't matter who sees me as an evil, smelly whore, or a terrible mother who doesn't change her daughter's underpants often enough, because that's not me. That's someone else's reality.
But frankly, all the ugliness in my life, past and present, only serves as a magnificent contrast to my relationship with Joel, because he sees the same Amanda that I see. I never need to defend myself because he's already on my side. He's more on my side than I am even. He sees a better me than I do and he makes me want to live up to the person he sees. [My favorite photograph ever taken of the two of us. Because I can still taste that kiss.]
I know a lot of you are probably still skeptical about the similar things I said about Dave and I'll be honest, I THOUGHT I was in love with him for a good chunk of our marriage. But THINKING you're in love with someone is a lot like THINKING you've had an orgasm. When you finally FEEL one, you know better and you have a good laugh at the expense of your formerly ignorant self.
This is me laughing. Because honestly: I had NO IDEA.
[This photo was taken last night at Willamette Week's Best of Portland party, during which we celebrated being named one of Portland's Best Reads for our Year of Sundays blog.]
[See also: He makes me smile WITH TEETH, people. If that's not a contrast, I don't know what the hell is.]