I’ve been thinking about relationships recently, about the width and length and depth of them, about their shape and colour. They are randomly dotted throughout our lives like wild poppies in a cornfield; bright, nourishing, individual and personal; at work, at home, at school, in our village street and every relationship unique as a snow flake. Relationships matter from the moment we rise until the moment we lay us down to sleep at night, and, without them, or with destructive ones, we humans falter and weaken in spirit and confidence. We wander as lost souls in what looks like a cold and unfriendly world.
Which it isn’t.
As a child I don’t worry about the dynamics of any of my relationships for the language is not yet grown in me,either to explain or understand. I just am. I run and play my way through my days, trusting (although I don’t even know that word yet) that I will be dressed and fed and loved and cared for. As I move into the angst-ridden and angry teenage years, I begin to question, I begin to understand, but I have not yet learned how to communicate, other than with my peers in ways that cause my elders considerable puzzlement. If I am a boy, I grunt in varying keys and laugh in staccato bursts, often rather unsure of the joke. And that’s about all I can say about boys, not being one myself.
If I am a girl I learn to talk a lot and giggle infuriatingly every time anyone opens their mouth. I have a little more awareness of the world I have arrived in, but fight a daily battle with myself over the size of my bottom or the spread of my toes, or the fact that my girlfriend is allowed to turn the tv on without having to make a request in writing, giving due notice.
I am full of envy of pretty much everyone else in my group and I run the very real risk of turning green. If I am lucky enough to have a mother who remembers her own uncomfortable struggle with hormones, and who can watch me through compassionate eyes, I am one of the lucky ones. If, on the other hand, my mother never concerned herself much with the discomforts of teenage life, then my relationship with her will be a very different one, defining, to some degree, all future ones. I seek understanding and I don’t get it, and so I turn away into my lonely self or out to my peer group to forge friendships that may not be healthy ones.
Then I grow up (in theory) and everyone thinks I’m an adult because I now look like one, but my outward appearance belies the inner truth. I am as insecure as I was in sentient childhood, but I must keep it a secret, or I might appear to be too small for my skin.
If my primary relationship is all the right colours and the perfect shape, I find I can do anything, go anywhere, flow naturally, be myself, but relationships, any of them, need both parties to be aware and interested in the collective result. Otherwise, we are just tumble-weeds in the desert, at the mercy of every capricious wind.
I like to divide up the word. Relation and Ship.
One sounds grounded, one wild and free and fizzing with adventure.
Too caught up in worldly cares and I grow brown and dull.
Too wild and colourful and I may find myself locked up. I need to be the link between the two and hold on tight.
What I want is a ladder to the moon.