Okay, this is a bit rushed because I have to get it out while it’s fresh in my head (and also, I’m at work).
Let’s say that C and I were looking at buying a car, for the sake of argument. And let’s say that we were looking at one of those comparison tools where the different luxury levels of the car in question were displayed next to each other so that we could see what would be gained by going up a level and paying more. And let’s also say that we could really only afford the most basic level, without the bells and whistles of the more expensive versions. Or let’s say even that we had to go down a size or two to be able to pay for it.
What floors, what amazes, what leaves me utterly dumbstruck is that I know for a fact that C would do his level best to make the choiced forced on us by circumstances seem the very best choice to make. He’d point out some uselessness of the bells and whistles, or insist that he was very happy with what we had to do. He’d never ever ever make me, make us, seem inadequate. Not now, when we’re pretty comfortable, but not even in the past, when there were times, before he started working, when I wasn’t too sure if there’d be enough money to do more than keep a roof over our heads and basic food on our table. He never, not once, acted as if I were not good enough, not bountiful enough, as if were only second best.
Which is how I’ve always felt. Except that he doesn’t make me feel that way. Even with friends, good friends, I’m always comparing myself to them, and automatically finding where I’m below, or behind, or not as good as they are. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing that they do, it’s in me, this tendency.
But with C it’s so different. I am utterly unable to understand it. I can’t buy him a multi-million dollar house, or a Bentley, or endless trips and holidays. So why does he stick around? Why doesn’t he ask for/whine for/pine for these things? Or find himself somebody else to give them to him?
Sometimes, when I drive past particularly…how to put it, downtrodden areas, I think ‘thank God we don’t live in a place like that’ and then nearly simultaneously ‘if we did, C would still make it okay.’
How can this be?
It reminds me of something I read in a book, 1984, I think. A group of people were being attacked from the sky, from airplanes with machine guns. Hiding, or trying to hide, in a ditch, a mother covered her child’s body with her arm to protect it. It couldn’t possibly protect the child, and indeed both were killed. But still she did it, still she tried, to the end of her breath, to take care of and comfort and protect her son.
That kind of love, no matter the circumstances, no matter what, is what I feel for C, of course. I love loving him. But what is still, after all these years, utterly, shatteringly, dumbfoundingly amazing to me is that he feels that way to me. Now, the ‘how’ or ‘what’ of his feelings for me is unfathomable enough — working on the ‘why’s of it, why he feels this way for me, will probably outstrip my powers of understanding forever.
What’s really sad is that with him, is probably the first time I’ve ever known myself to be loved. I still don’t quite understand it. Maybe I never will.