Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Matters of the Heart

"The bees are flying...they taste the Spring."
'Wintering', Sylvia Plath
A blogless August, a blogless September. Where do the days go, and the months? The last of the sunshine slips through my fingers like water; the last leaves litter the lawn, crackling underfoot like tiny fires. I wake in the dark and go to sleep in the dark; my days are bracketed by blackness and stars.
October. I love the sound of the word in my mouth. I love its briskness, the implications of apples and frost, of breath hanging in the air like clouds. I love this whole segment of the year, the last cold quarter of the calendar, as crisp and clean as a slice of moon. The deepening. The gathering in. The hushed sense of everything having gone to ground, to sleep, to dream, to preserve and replenish. 
Year after year, I find my life mirroring the season. As the ground hardens and the hedges moult down to their brown bones, I invariably find myself sorting and settling, tying up loose ends, finishing the tasks that have remained unfinished – nesting, in effect. Readying myself for the year’s closing.
Which is perhaps why it feels so very strange this year to find myself suddenly in a process of growth and renewal, of newness and blooming, beginnings and opportunities. It seems somehow out of sync with the season. Like strawberries in January, or snow in the middle of June.  
I am thirty two and I have never been in love. Or rather, I have never been in love until now. While my school-friends were doodling names in notebooks and batting newly-mascara-ed lashes across the classroom, I was keeping meticulous lists of calories and loping determinedly around the running track in my lunch hour. While they were enjoying first kisses, first crushes, I was enjoying the new sharpness of my hips, my belly's empty bowl, the stutter of my palms over emerging ribs.
I missed out on all those years of relationships - the years where people learn what a relationship is, the years where people learn how to be in one. So that there was a part of the adult me that still felt like that tentative teenaged girl who hasn’t been kissed yet, who doesn’t know how to give herself to someone, who doesn’t know what really loving or being loved feels like.  
That used to terrify me. I saw it as a failing or a flaw, as something that made me somehow defective. I would tell myself that I couldn’t ever be in a relationship, that I’d left it too long without having laid the groundwork or had the practice runs. I told myself that it didn’t matter, that I couldn’t miss what I’d never had, that some people were just meant to live independently and alone. All of which is, of course, ridiculous.
My relationship history is perhaps atypical, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Yes, this is all new to me, and yes, I am probably very green in lots of ways, but I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care. This relationship, this process, is so important and so precious, that there is simply no room for those old limits. There is no space for those voices saying Don’t, or can’t, or won’t.
I wake up in the mornings and the first thing that I remember is I love someone, and he loves me; my whole body hums with that knowledge as though bees had taken up residence. It's exhilarating and wonderful and a little bit terrifying all at once. I don't know whether it feels more like flying or falling. But I do know that I am treasuring every moment. And that the wait, however long, was worth it. 
This is what the poems are for, then. This is what the heart feels like when it's full.