"Have you towed a car in the last two hours?" I am wearing a leotard, pink ballet tights and converse. The man with kind eyes in the kiosk says, "No, ma'am." Ma'am is tough, but fair. I just took my first ballet class as an adult at the YMCA and I feel like a ma'am. My hamstrings ache, my hips hurt, my face is hot and apparently the class has made me senile because now I CAN'T FIND MY CAR. How will I ever convince anyone that I am ballerina (my next role) and HOW did I manage to brainlessly drive to the gym, arrive at the deck, park the car and not remember a single plié of it?
Gym goers think I have developed a new cardio class.... you walk up and down the floors of the parking deck inhaling noxious fumes and berating yourself, lose that stubborn self-esteem weight and crawl into a hole new you. Then, a vile woman honks at me and yells, "GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS!" And I think, Hell has a lovely welcoming committee.
Back at the kiosk, if I sound desperate it's because, "I'm desperate, has this ever happened to anyone before? I genuinely can't find my car. I've walked up and down the deck five times, can someone help me?"
Juan can. Now I am in a golf cart in a leotard with Juan. He suggests we start at the top of the deck and work our way down. I've already been up there, but it's comforting that soon Juan will see, as I have confirmed, there is no gold Saturn Ion anywhere in this entire parking structure...and THERE'S MY CAR. How interesting, like a mirage, my car appears, not lost forever, but very much where I left it.
I hug Juan, "I think I just needed some help." Juan graciously says, "Ok, lady." I limp towards my car and drive home in a tangle of worrying thoughts about my brain function and WHY this episode happened. WHY am I so forgetful? WHY am I so stupid? WHY am I so pathetic? You know, the usual, compassion-less, self-annihilating WHY treatment. I remember years ago my therapist said to me, "If I asked myself questions the way YOU do, I wouldn't answer myself either."
I can laugh about two things: I'm not good at ballet and this particular parking deck does want to ruin my life. But torturing myself for being fallible is not funny. It is familiar and present and still very hard.
I'm desperate, has this ever happened to anyone before? I genuinely can't find any [fill in the blank] compassion for myself. I've walked up and down the deck five times, can someone help me?
My friend Paul photocopied me a passage written by Max Frisch that materialized impeccably at the end of this unforeseeable 2016 year. Frisch writes...
That is the exciting, the unpredictable, the truly gripping thing about love: that we never come to the end of the person we love: because we love them; and as long as we love them. Why? Because the person one loves is as ungraspable as the universe...
We know that every person who is loved feels transformed, unfolded...Much he seems to see as if for the first time, because love has freed it from its imagery.
Once we feel we know the other, the love is at an end every time...We refuse him the right that belongs to all living things to remain ungraspable... a mystery- which after all is what a human being is...
Transformed, ungraspable, freed from imagery. Unknowable, a mystery, seeing for the first time. Exciting, never-ending, a right that belongs to all living things. This is love's spaciousness.
In our first six months of dating, I told Max that I loved him and he said, "I love you too, how could I not?" Unfolded, his love kept me from saying, "I could give you a few reasons not to." It is radical when someone invites you back to love, a transformative reminder that it comes with the price of admission. You get to have it because you are here, in this ungraspable universe, where things go very wrong and very right, where being found in love means being lost, set free. Love me, how could I not?