Monday, October 10, 2011

The Devotion Project

Devotion: fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal.(def. Merriam Webster):

This weekend, Laura and I had a Skype session with a film maker named Tony Osso. He is a professional film maker who is doing a side project called "The Devotion Project" which is a series of short documentary portraits of LGBT couples, examining and celebrating their commitment and devotion. The first film in the series, "More Than Ever", won the Audience Award for Best Short at Newfest: the New York LGBT Film Festival. It's an incredibly sweet love story of two men in their mid-80's who have been together since meeting in World War 2. Watch it.

He's considering doing a piece on us.The exhibitionist in me is delighted at the prospect of us getting to tell our story on film. But I'm also a little nervous about being part of this project mostly because I don't want ever, in any aspect of my life, to be seen as an impostor. It’s sort of my core issue.

I'm afraid that our relationship to each other and to Simon will be somehow appear one-dimensional, airbrushed, too good-to-be-true and somehow holier-than-thou. This comes up sometimes with the blog. This weekend, someone affirmed me for the posts I occasionally write about how much I appreciate Laura. The person recounted a recent conversation with her wife where she said, “SEE? See what Jaime writes about Laura? I want you to do that for me!”

I was flattered and terrified. Yes, I write sweet nothings for Laura in public places and even say them to her face. But really, not that often. The reality is that I'm not a perfect, ever-adoring wife. Devoted? Yes. Consistently adoring? Um… I can safely say we are happily married. Most of the time.

Sometimes, though, we are rude to each other. (To be totally truthful, 90% of the time, it's me being rude to her). We raise our voices at Simon. We have days when we really don't like each other. Days when our most fervent desire is that our beloved take a long walk off a short pier. Sometimes I don't do something that needs to get done around the house because I know if I leave it long enough, Laura will do it. Laura would rather pluck out her own nose hairs than sweep the floor and some days that makes me want to leave a nasty, hairy, nail-clipping-filled dust bunny on her pillow. Sometimes Laura holds onto being mad longer than is reasonable and some days I freak out on her for just breathing my air. Sometimes she wants me to apologize and I know I owe her one but I just plain can’t, if I’m going to really mean it. So some days she just has to wait to get her well-deserved apology.

This is kind of what a devoted relationship looks like, right?

When you first commit to someone, when you have just pledged your undying devotion, or to do the best you can to show up every day, in front of lots of people or just a few, after a few weeks or a few months, something happens. The day comes when you realize that the thing your precious love just did that makes your blood pressure skyrocket is the thing you're going to be living with for the long haul. Or that you really WERE just a total asshole but you’re so mad about being called out on it that you can’t back down.  And they're going to call you out on that same thing for the next 30 years.

Around that time, you realize that this is just the beginning. You are building the landscape of your marriage.  The fights you have early are the fights you're going to have over the coming decades. There are going to be pits hidden over with foliage and little hidden treasures under piles of dog crap and sometimes a big ass landmine.  Sometimes you're going to get through peacefully, holding hands, saying "Well, wasn't that a lovely journey!" Sometimes you're going to get your eardrums burst and dirt in your eyes. 

The thing is, if you're going to make it to the finish line together, once the adrenaline gets reabsorbed, heart rates come down, and wounds are cleaned, someone has to reach their hand out to the other person.  And the other has to take it.

It’s that reaching out that demonstrates devotion to me. It’s the commitment to connect and re-connect, even when it’s loud and busy and you can barely find each other through the mountains of toys and hurt feelings and bills and pretty shiny other people. It’s going on the search for that love, with that person, again and again, that is that most holy act of ardent dedication and loyalty.