I’ve been dating a guy for a little over a year and a half. We didn’t meet at the most ideal time. He was recently separated and just beginning the process of his divorce (yes, I have some insecurities about that.) But honestly, we weathered the storm of that incredibly stressful situation really well together. We teamed up. We poured into each other. We gave more and so got more from our relationship. It was a long, drawn out, tedious and often maddening process and despite all that the beginning of our relationship was pretty awesome. There were moments that felt surreal like I was at a fireworks display with perfectly timed really good music. Senses overwhelmed, the bigness, the brightness, the colors, the timing, the rhythm all coming together perfectly to create a visceral reaction in the viewer. There were times when I cried, in a good way, because I was overwhelmed with the feeling of it all. I’ve had moments with him where I have felt more wanted, valued, celebrated and loved than I ever have in my life. I’ve had moments where I’ve started to weep just lying in his arms because it feels so good there.
The thing about fireworks, and humans, is that if you play with them enough or go to enough displays, one of them is bound to blow up at the wrong time. One 4th of July when I was in college we were lying right next to the location where they were lighting the fireworks off and one very large, red firework went off right after they lit it, very close to the ground and right over our heads. Not so awesome. Later in life when I had kids and we were doing a rather intense at home display the barrel tipped over and the fireworks started shooting sideways at us, our children, and the neighbor’s house. Really not awesome. Totally f*#$ing scary
A lot of the time my boyfriend is like a really good fireworks display. He’s passionate, big, a little loud, very bright, entertaining, sensitive, expressive and a little intense. And I love it. I have a visceral response to his energy. Even when my ego was screaming not to show him how much I cared, and I didn’t allow myself to put it into words, I couldn’t do it. You could look at me and see that I loved him. I was, and am, amazed by this. And it makes me really nervous.
There’s flip side to dating an intelligent, passionate, sensitive, expressive man (and woman I’m sure.) Sometimes he blows up right in your fucking hand. And you don’t see it coming and you didn’t intend to light the fuse yet. And it’s not awesome. It’s pretty painful. It’s scary to let something that powerful in so close. The person lighting off the fireworks takes a risk to create the magic for the rest of us. They have to be in sync, present and focused. But they’re human and they aren’t always gonna pull that off. I wonder how many people who do that for living have lost a hand or been maimed or burned in some way. Somebody look that stat up. But the thing is, if they’re too careful, too cautious, too concerned about the timing or the quality of the show, if they hold the firework in their hands a little too long just to make sure it’s the right one and isn’t dysfunctional in some way, they’re going to for sure at some point get hurt and fuck up the whole show.
Sometimes I hold fireworks for too long.
My fear and my nervousness get me out of balance, out of step, and I miss my cue. Or I look at and analyze a situation for so long that it blows up right in my face. Or my own intensity, again fueled often by fear and nervousness, spark and light the fuse even when I’m trying to let that powerful little firework know how much I love it, how beautiful I think it is and how grateful I am that it brings magic and wonder and risk into my life. Fireworks, clearly, are not meant to be held for too long and magic will never survive the dismemberment of over analysis. What makes the show magic is that you don’t really know how it all came together. If you spend too much time trying to take it all apart, it kind of ruins the magic.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes my boyfriend can be reactive and it’s hurtful. My boss often says, there’s no free lunch, meaning there’s a price to pay for everything and there is a price to pay for loving an expressive man. That expression can swing with his mood. He has a broad spectrum of emotion and where I am privileged to experience the beauty of that I am also less privileged to experience the pain of it. He doesn’t even have to be a big firework, he can just be a little firecracker, but he’s right up against my heart so even then, when it goes off, it can hurt pretty bad. In relationships we need to honor the space people let us into. Our words and how we say them have more impact on our partner probably than anyone else in their life. Our actions and how they are performed have the power to change each other’s realities. Don’t we want to use that power with each other wisely? Why do we so often take that for granted? Some of us don’t want to hold that power or influence in another person’s life. Some of us don’t want that responsibility, but I’m not sure you can be in a close, fulfilling relationship without it. Just like fireworks, you don’t get the awesome and the magic without the power. I think most of us want a little awesome and magic, otherwise we’d spend every 4th just throwing the little Black Cat fireworks at the ground that just snap and pop. Lame.
In the end, if we want to experience the awesomeness and the magic of a loving, intimate relationship we have to let go of the fear. We need to listen to the music, try and stay in rhythm most of the time and let those roman candles fly. We need to trust and enjoy. We also need to accept and cherish the power we hold in the lives of the people we love. There are very few things in life that create intense joy without a little effort, sweat equity and responsibility. I think, if we can pull off trust and responsibility in our relationships, that’s when the music, the colors, the explosions all come together. That’s when the magic happens. And it’s awesome.