Monday, November 29, 2010

boiled amphibians

I'm happy that November is over, aren't you? It wasn't the easiest of months for me. But now that it's December again, I can celebrate little anniversaries. Like it's been a year since I left for Argentina. It's (almost) been six months since I met Marido. And it's been two months since I quit smoking--all reasons to celebrate.

Everyone I know seems to be struggling with their relationships. Relationships are always complex and interesting, but lately they seem to be taking more from us than giving, which I suppose is only normal during the jolliest time of year. Things with me and Marido have been no exception. I really thought we were over, but we aren't.

I think this conversation sums it all up:

ME: I think we have communication problems. It's obvious to me that you've been unhappy for more a little while, but you insist nothing is wrong. Then all of a sudden one day you say you don't want to spend the holidays with me, can't live with me, and don't see a future for us. Of course I freaked out and thought you were breaking up with me. It was the most you'd said in a month. Why didn't you say anything before?

(long, thoughtful pause)

MARIDO: Well, it is like boiling a frog.

(Figuring this is some sort of cultural thing, I wait for him to continue. But instead there is an even longer pause during which I stare at him wondering if he is making an ill-timed joke about our communication problems, or if he is just insane.)

ME: Um, boiling a frog? I don't understand. You're going to have to explain that to me.

MARIDO: (genuinely surprised) Really?

I've never heard of this allusion, but it apparently is so widespread that Little Brother understood it immediately (of course) and it has its own Wikipedia entry. If you're too lazy to click the link, the "boiling a frog" reference is an allusion to the myth that if you place a frog in a pot of temperate water and then slowly bring it to a boil, it will not react to the gradual rise in temperature and boil to death; whereas if you place a frog in boiling water, it will jump out and save itself. Whether or not it's true, this idea is a reference to people's abilities to tolerate extreme circumstances when subjected to them gradually.

Classic hilarity!

Anyhow, it's obvious we need to communicate a little better. Last week was pretty fucking dicey, and I packed up all of my stuff and came home, unsure of whether or not I would return. It is a hard thing to have my confidence in a relationship shaken, when I see that as mainly what keeps me attached to someone--my belief that they will love me and protect me and be a new source of awesomeness, not a source of infinite strife, and vice-versa. I want to make Marido happier by amazing him with love and people and new possibilities for adventure. I don't want to make him feel like a boiled frog!

When I left San Francisco, I was unsure of if we were boiling each other or making each others' lives better. Our lives have changed a lot with the addition of each other. We are both intense people and diametrically opposed in a lot of ways. My first step after leaving San Francisco was to consider whether I wanted to ask him to come to Chicago for Thanksgiving (as planned), because it meant a lot to me, or if he should hang back in San Francisco for a breather (as we both knew would be beneficial in other ways). While discussing this with my mother, he texted to tell me he would still come, if I wanted him to. It meant the world to me that he came.

I love Thanksgiving. This year, I am especially thankful for:

1) Delicious food (no boiled frogs!), particularly pie, ice cream, and turkey;
2) the miracle of aviation;
3) my friends, who amaze me with their patience, wisdom, and incredibly diverse range of relevant advice;
4) my family, who sometimes bring out the worst in me but love me anyway;
5) love in general, its resilience, its optimism, how it makes everything and everyone better;
6) Marido, for believing in us, for continuing to make memories with me, for giving me keys to come back to San Francisco, for destroying a dictionary to send me a love letter, for his pasta carbonara, and for his little-boy smile which makes me believe that we will grow old together;
7) the ability to step back and see where improvements can be made in one's life;
8) the ability to make those improvements with the help of all of the above.

I'm excited for my New Year's resolutions this year. Aren't you?