I recently had coffee with a good friend of mine who also happens to be an avid writer. He was telling me how he’s gotten into the habit of getting up at 5am before everyone is awake and all is quiet just so he can have time and space to write. I admire this in many ways. Mostly because I’m the exact opposite of a morning person. I could set my sights on waking up early to write, but I doubt I’d be able to string two sentences together, let alone have them make any sense.
For the most part, I do my writing late at night. When all is quiet and all I can hear is the hum of the air conditioner and the oscillating of the fan. I take in the day attempting to be fully present, and then late at night I sit in my Papa’s chair, which has been passed down to me, and I rock and ponder the day. And sometimes, I want to write it all at once, and sometimes it comes slowly.
It’s funny how we are the same and yet we are so different. One of my favourite things about getting to know someone is learning their quirks. You know those little things that make people weird in their own way. Like sleeping with a fan on all year round, or having to have the toilet paper rolling a certain way, or taking a water bottle to bed, but you forget that there’s one there from the previous night and when you go to change the sheets, you find 10 in the bed! Learning a person’s quirks is what makes me feel like they are really known to me.
It is those quirks that also test our patience and grow our capacity to love someone. It’s one thing to love certain quirks, it’s another thing to know there are ones that you hate. The ones that get under your skin and on a bad day, can make you erupt. In many ways, I feel like I’ve become a student of relationships. By that I mean, I’ve become an observer of how people who are in relationships engage with one another. I listen to how they speak to one another, I watch to see if they actually have fun together, if they build one another up when they are together and when they are apart. I watch to see if they are still trying to get to know the other person after they’ve been together for a few years. Do they really see one another when they are together? Is the other person their safe place?
Over the years, I’ve talked to person after person who tell me things that they feel they could never talk about with their significant other because they don’t feel safe enough to bring it up, or they just don’t talk about things like that. I see patterns form early on in relationships where one person gives and the other just takes. And it doesn’t usually start out this way. So what happens to cause this disconnect, or this breakdown of continually seeking to know the other person? Do we get too busy? Do financial burdens get in the way? Do we just think we know everything there is to know about the person? Do their quirks that we don’t like silently build a wedge into the blind love we once felt?
I think this disconnect is what makes me afraid of marriage. I can control how connected I am, but I can’t control how connected the other person is.
The husbands and wives who after 15 years of marriage, still talk about their spouse when they’re not around like they are their absolute favourite person in the world; the couples who are continually asking each other questions because they want to know the other person more; the boyfriend who looks at his girlfriend, after dating for 7 years, and makes sure she knows that he really sees her ~ these are the small glimpses that make me desire marriage. To spend a lifetime getting to know someone who just wants to get to know you, now that sounds like something worth committing to.
Much of this can be said of friendships (not the romantic kind) too. I’m learning to live with a new roommate and we are having to be really intentional about making time to sit down and talk about things that bother us or things we really appreciate. We both want our home to be safe space, but I’m finding out that creating safe space with someone else takes a lot of work. Taking the time to ask the second question; finding out how that person receives love best; checking in to see how they are really feeling ~ many of these things don’t come naturally to us and so when we first start doing them, it’s weird and unnatural. But this is the stuff that builds friendships and relationships where grace and love flows so freely that it makes others want what you have.
I’m not a morning person, a 9am start is hard enough for me! But I’d like to think that if someone I loved a whole lot really loved having coffee together in the mornings, I’d at least make an effort a couple times a week to get up early just to sit together and drink coffee.
It’s funny how we are the same and yet we are so different.
Many of us long to be known, but are we really willing to put in the time and effort that knowing takes?
It’s my challenge and it’s my fear. But somehow, I think it might be worth it.