Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ode to Valentines

I guess this is a Valentine's day post. It's not really too sappy or focused on smoochy love and all that crap everyone's tired of reading about. (Well, I am. So I suppose I'm not alone.) Sappy, smoochy Hallmark love is good and all but there's more than that.

Palmer and I watched La La Land yesterday and when it ended we had very opposite feelings about it.
If you're dying to see this movie and don't want any spoilers, consider this your spoiler warning. 

First of all, I was pouting that there wasn't more musical singing and dancing numbers. As much as I swooned over the jazz in it, I wanted more memorable sing alongs. And when the last number hit and we are left pining over what could have been between these two dreamers, I was so angry. How could they do that to me?! His face when he saw her! And they both saw their life and the magic and adventure and love that could have been! AND THEN SHE LEFT AND THE CREDITS POP UP LIKE EVERYTHING IS FINE.

Palmer clapped and said he loved it. I stomped my foot and said, "WHAT?? That was terrible! There wasn't enough singing and they weren't together! What the heck?!"

In the car he said it again and I said again how I just didn't agree. He went on to describe how their hopes and dreams and love and everything that made up their reality and they were chasing were the risky options in their life. Pursuing an acting career had the lowest percentage rate for success. His landing a solid paying gig playing the jazz that fueled his passions had the lowest percentage rate for success. And in life you chance it or you don't. You luck out and you beat the odds or you don't.

Spoiler warning ends here.

He went on to say it was very much like us and I sat there mouth open taking the movie in all over again. He was totally right.

Palmer and I's relationship was the risky one. To be honest, it had one of the lower chances for success. We were 18 and 19 when we met. It was literally love at first sight. We were kids with heads full of dreams and souls filled with passion and hearts filled with angsty hope. Then we hit a point quickly where we split and I wasn't sure I even liked him anymore. He was a Christian Republican and I was a Democratic agnostic/universalist/searchingforwhateverthehellisgoingonhere-ist. Some people told him I was too wordly and we wouldn't be equally yoked as a couple. I had people tell me he was a jerk.

As it turns out, we ended up hanging out again. In groups first, then in pairs, then as a double date, then we found ourselves spending hours together, daily, laying everything out. Being brave and vulnerable and honest. He wasn't a jerk. I wasn't a Delilah. 

We were cloaked in layers of what our worlds wanted us to be.

We got married at 19 and 20, after knowing each other for a year and a half. Again, our chance for success was very low, I think it's safe to say. If my kids played this same scenario out, I would be terrified but do my very best to equip them. But damn I'd be scared - just like my friends, family and strangers were. I legitimately lost track of how many times people told us it wasn't a good idea. Every 19 year old in love has said this, but I knew it would be okay. I knew it was right, I wasn't scared at all. We planned to chase our dreams together, married to help propel one another towards what we want from this life. Fuel for the other's passions.

Things were wonderful until they weren't. I needed to seek help with my depression. (As it turns out, falling in love and getting married doesn't fix depression.) Palmer needed to seek help for his own demons. (As it turns out, ignoring problems doesn't make them go away.) We forgot how to be present for the other and then our marriage imploded. I was struggling with postpartum depression and Palmer was struggling with addictions. Our chance for success, again, was very low.

However, we succeeded. It was fucking hard. I imagined what divorce would look like. I imagined single motherhood. I imagined Palmer finding someone new. I imagined suicide. And we survived it all. We showed up for each other. Became brave and vulnerable and honest again. We found the wounds and healed them. They're very faded scars now. It's only hard to talk about now because my memory isn't great.

From eternity to where the space meets the sea.

We chose to help launch a new church. A riskier option than staying in sales and climbing the corporate ladder, but happiness trumped promotions. The chance for success: low. But we did it.

We chose to start a business. A riskier option than landing a 9-5 with benefits. The chance for success: lower. But we're doing it.

We/Palmer chose to funnel a lot of energy into a new local startup with massive potential but not a lot of short term reward. Success rate: lower than other options. But it's going remarkably well.

There have been several other dreams that had a super low chance for success that didn't pan out but it didn't hurt a damn thing to try. Whatever has failed us in the past opened a possibility for something else. It's incredible.

It makes me wonder how many people are chasing the risky dream. What is this life if you're not?

We've had odds against us for a long time and we may always have odds against us. But choosing risk, choosing joy, choosing passion despite a low chance for success - isn't that living beyond existing?

Love is risky. It often times has a low chance for success. But really, love is only successful when it's felt. 

Every one who loves deserves love. Whatever you believe, all of us only have this one existence. It will never play out this way again. Choose joy. Choose passion. Choose love. Choose risk. Choose hope. It will not always go like you hope. The odds may beat you. You might fail. But every failure leads to another possibility. That's the beauty La La Land captured in my opinion. The odds were harsh for each of them and they didn't triumph the way they thought. But it led them to other possibilities. Flaws made beautiful because of choice.  I'm still pining over the montage at the end. It reminds me of my own what ifs. What if Palmer and I chose separate paths? We didn't marry, we didn't have 3 remarkable children. We didn't choose adventure over familiar. If we had done everything different, I would live my own montage of an alternate life. And what a glorious feeling it is to look behind you, at every fork in your path and every choice you've ever made and smile because not a single one leaves you in regret.

I write this wishing, hoping and praying this for everyone, Valentine. 
Choose bravely, lovely, risky and truly. 

Happy Valentine's Day.