September 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Disclaimer: these are not my original rules. i met someone years ago who had been doing the work of loving for twenty years longer than I have ever tried to and these are words of wisdom I digested one night we spent ecstatically talking til the wee hours of night. Months later, he was consumed in an explicable home fire and was taken away from this world too soon. The rules are his, the explanations are what I take from them. Professor Andrew Goodwin, verbatim memories of our visceral exchanges are seared into my hippocampus. Your brilliance was astronomical, your light interminable, your wit unmatched. Your last email to me was titled ‘exit interview’. Brujo. I walked to your house after the fire and found tinged photos on the street like earth toned confetti celebrating the release and resurrection of your Phoenix Self. No longer bound by bipolar vice-grips of mania, no longer groping for anyone as wild to understand you. Not that you ever were, actually. To know you wasn’t to love you, but to love you was definitely to know you.
1. Only Fall Asleep Together When You Really Want To
Sleep is a necessary recharging of the body and mind and magical unfoldings take place in this “non place”. If for any reason, you are uninspired or simply uninterested in sharing that sleep with your beloved, don’t do it. What you lose is vast compared to any obligatory pressure that one may put on themselves to maintain status quo.
2. Everyone Gets What They Want
This can be as simple or mundane as ordering take out from two different restaurants the same evening or as complicated as doing the arduous work of defining the agreed upon specific incarnations of monogamy or polyamory right down to the letter. The point is to come to an understanding each party is truly happy with so as not to become mired in swamps of resentment, or, an even uglier beast, blame. Each person takes responsibility for their contentment and never does the deceitful dance of reluctant appeasing. Sacrifice is, of course, something altogether different, and a necessity in love. But, in this present, purposeful way, sacrifice is chosen with intention and never brought up as leverage or bragging rights. Do what you want, and if what you want is to surrender, do it genuinely, gracefully, and without pride or pomp.
3. Spend One Day A Week With Your Partner Committed To Non Verbal Communication
Andrew, you wicked, wise son of a bitch. This is definitely your best rule. So I saved it for last.
I’ll never forget this conversation, in which this Rule was revealed to me. Andrew and I were at his favorite restaurant. We had already been acquainted for a few years but had only spent intermittent time together, typically over cocktails at the White Horse, intellectually invigorating every single fucking time…
I fell in love with his person one night when he was going on about how much he despised “Stairway to Heaven” and utterly abhorred the laudatory attention its received since its birth because it’s entirely overrated rubbish! Pants! That song is absolute pants! (Insert strong British accent here) Sarah, who had dated him years ago, knew I had a Led Zeppelin lyric tattoo on my rib cage and smirked knowingly, looked at me, then turned to Andrew and asked “Well, what do you think about ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ “? Andrew, without hesitation, softened his otherwise excited tone down to the decibel of a doe soothing its fawn, relaxed his shoulders, looked at us each intently and said “Oh I think it’s their absolute greatest accomplishment ever.” Jenelle, Sarah,and I erupt with laughter. I immediately show him the stained skin on my side, a Jacob’s ladder arrangement of those exact five words:
That was it. Instant mutual respect and adoration sealed for life. Or as life would have it, the next 4 years.
Fast forward to that night I learned Rule #3. Le Bateau Ivre, May 2013.
He had left some post its with notes about the book he was working on at the White Horse the night before, so I saved them and called the next day to tell him I had them. “That’s the oldest writer’s trick in the book. I’m glad you fell for it. Meet me for dinner tonight.” I didn’t care he was over 20yrs my senior, I just was thrilled to get to spend some time with this luminescent mind, this hilarious whip, this soul oscillating from child like to flammable. That night we doted upon one another and couldn’t stop talking. “God, Andrew, I love talking to you. Do you remember that night we wrote to each other at the white horse?” “Of course I do, I couldn’t believe this beautiful woman was entertaining the thought she might be falling in love with me.” /”How do you do that, Danielle?” “Do what, darling?” I coyly pleaded. “Eat so delicately and then say something so heavy”. There was never a lull. We discussed his son, my bipolar mother, his own battle with bipolar mania, the descent into madness, poetry, his book, the book I wanted to write, his struggle with women, my struggles with love, our incessant need to carve out a lot of personal space in love which makes us difficult to be with, and of course his rules in a relationship…
“Rule #3 is to spend one day a week without talking to each other at all. Prepare whatever logistics involving travel, groceries, and necessities beforehand. Turn off your phones, don’t use your computers, don’t say one word to each other for 24 hours. Agree upon when that day is and adhere to all the rules at all costs. Spend that time together, carve that time out for each other, without any words of any kind, I guarantee it will change the way you see each other, for the better, and typically bring you much, much closer”.
He was and remains right. Rule #3 almost saved my marriage once. Well, a relationship I hoped would become a marriage anyhow. It only works if Rule #2 is in order, but, god damn it’s fun to practice
“You’re a Writer because You Write!”–Andrew Goodwin, tenderly remembered friend