Where are you now? Crowdsourcing & Couplehood

Reader request: more on couplehood, please.

Friday lunch was sushi served with dry tears.

A dear friend of mine, someone I have known since the mid-1990’s, came into townThursday evening. As old, true friends do, we jumped right back in as if we’d never been apart.

Late into the night and all the early morning hours we talked and talked. The conversation held no direction, it simply flowed, one story into the next. We were animated. Hands flying as we spoke. Bursts of laughter.

And then we went to lunch, where a stillness settled over us. “How is he?” I asked. “Fine. I think he’s fine.” We sat quietly and spoke of marriages, love and the internal lives we were leading. Twenty years later, they are still together. As are we. Yet things have changed.

When we fall in love, it happens in a crowd. We are surrounded by friends, co-workers, family, friends-of-friends, acquaintances we don’t even remember picking up along the way. And, of course, there is us. The people falling in love.

Now, all there is, is us.

The friends we went dancing with? Hung out with? Went to bars with? Out for a game with? To a coffee shop with? To school with? One by one, our crowd all fell away from one another. Now we are ‘with’ only one.

And that can mean we accidentally, not at all on purpose, place the expectation of our with-ness completely on our partner’s shoulders.

But back then? If they didn’t like bar-hopping or hoop-shooting or whatever-ing? No problem. We had a crowd. Someone else was more than happy to ‘ing’ with us. So we might not have even noticed that our love didn’t love doing those things.

Now our crowd is no longer crowded. And suddenly we see all these pieces that are missing.

So what do we do? We go back. (as Vizzini always says….) Go back to the beginning.

Back to those dancing-playing-reading-being parts of us that didn’t disappear with the birth of our children, even if we seemed to have misplaced them for a while. We go back, and we draw in a new crowd. It may have some familiar faces. It may be populated with new ones. It may be filled with people who live next door. It may not. It definitely will be harder than before. Scheduling. Babysitting. What used to happen nearly spontaneously now may take weeks or even months to align.

It is all worth it.

It is all worth it because not only do we get to be our complete selves, our partners aren’t being asked to be someone they are not. They get to be fully themselves—the person we loved. And love. And they joy they brought us? The delight we found in one another? Schedule time for that, too. Because the deepest connections happen in the quiet from the crowd.

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Friday afternoon I dropped my dear friend off at the ferry dock for the next leg of her weekend adventure. I don’t know when we will see each other again. As I pulled away, I thought of our lunch conversation, and Mumford & Sons lyrics seemed to float on the air. Where are you now? Where are you now? Do you ever think of me in the quiet, in the crowd?

What song are you hearing right now? Where is your joy? We each have a story. I’d love to hear yours.

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