As I walked down my street early this spring morning, I noticed two black birds tumbling together down the side of a neighbor’s roof, wings flapping. They stopped and landed briefly on the drain pipe, then began chasing each other again. Ah, Spring. Who couldn’t appreciate the pure sensuality of this season, when Nature wakes us and begins making love in a hundred thousand different ways?
Yesterday I read a very nice blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Robert Morrow. He was waxing lyrically and frankly about his sweetheart. He began by saying that he was married to a woman with whom he had a perfect relationship. He described vividly how much in love they were, even after 11 years together. He wrote about the high degree of honesty and regard they have for each other, and described how passionately they danced together, both on the dance floor and in the bedroom. It was one of those posts that makes you sigh, and feel glad that someone, somewhere in the world, is very happy with his partner, and that makes life a little easier to bear, somehow. Here’s the link to read it for yourself: http://ringingtrue.net/2012/03/25/unconditional-love/
Reading Morrow’s blog led me to think about my own husband, and the fact that so far on this blog, I have kept strangely quiet about him and our relationship, except for the occasional rant when we have disagreed. So, in the spirit of the season and the loveliness of the day, I will tell a bit about my man, my lover, and my best friend. Early on we gave each other pet names, though I am not sure exactly why. So I call him Rabbit, or Kanin, in Danish. Rabbit is very cute, very Danish, with a fantastic smile and friendly demeanor. He is certainly the most unusual person I have ever been with. He is hard to pinpoint, his tastes being particular and also changeable, so just when I think I’ve got a grasp on which classical composers he loves best, he suddenly shifts and becomes obsessed with someone new. So although Beethoven is a perennial favorite, for the past month or so he has been wild with Wagner, and only wants to hear the best version of Tristan and Isolde, with the highest volume allowed on the stereo, by the best conductor in the known world.
Rabbit reads books in several languages. At any one time, you might find several Danish translations of various subjects, but mostly Art, Culture and Philosophy, along with French, German, and English authors and philosophers piled in stacks on his writing desk, splayed out upon a section of the dining table, and on his nightstand. Sometimes I look over his shoulder as he reads a passage, jealously sighing that I can only read one language fluently and have to struggle to read his native tongue. When I mention it, he just laughs, sometimes reading a passage aloud in German or Italian, which he studied at University. Ugh, I groan. Please, say something in a language I can understand, at least! He is also extremely fond of being right, even though he rarely will admit it. Small talk is something he mostly abhors, and has been known on more than one occasion to remind me that, ‘my brain hates to find answers to uninteresting questions!’ Although he is completely fluent in English and knows more about English grammar than I do, he rather despises helping me translate Danish words into English.
Rabbit loves coffee. This in itself is not too unusual, given as it is one of Denmark’s national pastimes. But. He makes it like the Turks and the Bulgarians, in an espresso cup, at least one third coffee, and the rest boiling water. Let steep 5 minutes, stir down any remaining grounds to the bottom, and Voila! The strongest, bitterest coffee I have ever tasted is the result, perfect for him. I have seen him, on a stressful day, drink at least 6 or more of these coffees in a day. Next best thing to shooting it directly in the veins, I imagine.
Oh, then there is marzipan, and ice cream, known simply as ‘is’ in Danish. (pronounced ees.) Two food groups Rabbit is passionate about. When he spent time in America with me, he was amazed and disappointed to learn that Americans are not wild about marzipan, in fact it is usually only available around the Christmas holidays. And of course, the world’s best ice cream (besides Italy, that is) can only be had at La Glace in Copenhagen. The first week we were together, he insisted on bringing me to La Glace and buying me a three scooped parfait, which I could barely eat half of, while he and his son wolfed down the entire thing within a matter of minutes. Shocking.
Rabbit is also a painter. He knows a frightening amount about European painting, and a lot about art in general. He is an absolute snob when it comes to what is ‘Good Art’, and what is not. When he took me to Glyptoteket, the famous art museum in Copenhagen, he quickly whisked me through the Rodins and 19th century, then all the Roman sculpture, in his charming way of course, because he so wanted to show me the ‘real art’, which were the Greek statues. I tried hard to see and understand why it was that the Greeks were simply superlative, as he did his best to explain. Later on, I sneaked back to Rodin’s incredible statue of The Lovers, deciding it was still my favorite.
Sometimes Rabbit is more tolerant of my American brashness than at others. Up until he was in his late 30’s he had never worn a pair of blue jeans. Then he suddenly started, and now they are his favorite pants to wear. A pair of authentic Levi 501 jeans cost about two hundred dollars in Denmark. I am sure my mouth fell open when he told me what he had paid for them. Denmark has the highest cost of living in all of Europe, along with some of the highest wages, a trade-off of sorts. Still, it stings to know that what might cost thirty dollars in America will cost three or four times that in Denmark, should you be crazy enough to actually purchase it. But that’s a story for another day’s blog.
Back to Kanin and me. The first time I heard his voice, my world as I had known it up to that moment, was forever changed. We had met online, via emails. After a couple of weeks, he sent me a video he had made, with him reciting a favorite poem of his by W.H. Auden. He had set his video camera down in the grass, the lens pointing up to the blue sky and passing clouds. So I only saw the Danish sky, and heard the loveliest male voice reading this sweet poem about a quiet garden somewhere in England. In that moment I fell in love with this mysterious person thousands of miles away. The spell had been cast, and remains to this very day.
We often leave each other notes for the other to find if they come home first. They are uncomplicated, and fill my heart with a kind of simple joy that is difficult to explain. Sometimes they are in Danish, other times in English. I may receive a note with the words, ‘Hi Mouse, I love you!‘ or in Danish, ‘hej søde, dejlige mus! Jeg elsker dig!’ (translated: Hi sweet, lovely mouse, I love you!)
Sometimes my husband drive me crazy, of course, as I do to him. We are both high-strung, artsy types, too sensitive for our own good, too easily hurt by a careless phrase or unsmiling face. The most difficult subjects for us involve politics and the United States, something I strive to avoid if possible (but unavoidable at times.) Rabbit is passionate about his political stance. He is a self-declared Romantic, in the tradition of the German Romantics like Holderlin, Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, and others. Rabbit is, to my great joy, the most wonderful lover I could have ever imagined. I have been taken to the most exquisite places through physical pleasure, and have learned the real meaning of ‘being madly in love.’ I know now that it really is a kind of madness, which leads me out of my rational, practical mind altogether, and into a place of utter surrender, a true holy communion.
Since meeting him, I have changed and grown as a human being in a hundred ways. He has in turns shaken, nudged and whirled me awake to new possibilities and understandings about what it means to be human, to love, to embrace the mystery of this wild, mad and wonderful life. Because of knowing him, I think more broadly than before, I question my own deeply held beliefs, I see with more compassionate eyes. Through his love and devotion, I have learned more than I ever knew before of giving and receiving between two mature adults. I am a better person now because of him, wiser, quieter, more grounded than before.
When I first started this post, thinking about Morrow and his ‘perfect relationship,’ I admit I was a little skeptical. It is that funny word, perfect, that I have difficulties with, knowing so well that we humans mostly fall far short of it. But. Now that I have spent some time pondering about Rabbit, and our relationship, I think I have to agree. It actually is perfect, if I dare to write this! Perfect in its composition, its harmonies, its melodies, its highs and lows, its undercurrents. Perfect in its reaching towards the highest spiritual places, as well in its delving into the deepest caves of the soul’s dwelling. Our love is a kind of beautiful song, or concerto, sometimes more Beethoven, sometimes more Mozart, and occasionally Miles Davis or even Pink Floyd. The old cliché about ‘making beautiful music together,’ in this context, takes on a whole new meaning. I like to imagine that one day, far in the future, long after we are gone and our bodies have become mulch for some future garden, the music of our souls will continue to play somewhere in the celestial spheres, swirling and spiraling around endlessly, to which the angels will gracefully waltz.