The Honeysuckle and The Hazel Tree

I’ve been avoiding this post for awhile. I knew I would have to write it eventually. A lot of people have asked me about my relationship: “how did you meet?” “what’s your love story?” and I never really know what to say. I get it, people want to know these kinds of things, especially with us and our atypical saga. This is our four year wedding anniversary, but we’ve been together a long time (8 years) although that isn’t really that long until you factor in our age (24, 23). But it’s really so hard to briefly put into words without making it sound so trite and coincidental. Plus I really hate talking about such personal things. But I’ll try.

I always think of the medieval story of the honeysuckle and the hazel tree. I heard about this story in Chevrefoil (“Honeysuckle”) which is a lai by Marie de France about Tristan and Isolde. Essentially, the honeysuckle and hazel trees grow near each other and as they age they grow around each other, supporting each other, until you can’t decipher one from the other, and if you chop one down the other will die.

It’s like that part in Sleepless in Seattle when Annie’s (Meg Ryan) mother is talking about when she and her husband met, and he took her hand and she looked down and couldn’t tell which fingers were hers and which her his.

Even those things make it all seem so happenstance though. Maybe it is.

The Slingshot
We did start dating almost entirely by situational proximity. His best friend was dating my best friend and so by default we were dating too. I suppose that’s like most high school romances. You don’t really “date” anyone except people you’re around, and even then it’s more like hanging out with the exclusive rights to kiss that person (although we know not everyone follows those rules). But it didn’t take long for us to be together for IT to start. Our friends broke up rather quickly, and my husband and I were a constant on again off again thing.  Yes, we were THAT couple. We would both be so offended when other people would try to set us up, or hit on the other person, but who could blame anyone. On any given day it really could be up for debate whether we were “together” or not. You could still probably put this up to situational proximity, or the fact that it’s easier to be with someone than without. For me, it was more about feeling like he belonged to me, and I know he felt the same way. It was like we were wrapped around each other and constantly fighting and struggling to be free, to be just like every one else, but the smallest touch on our pulled taught wire would fling us back together.

I wish I could say that after our daughter was born things changed, we suddenly grew up, etc. But really the back and forth continued until after the “big breakup” (by big I mean a full month instead of the usual day or occasional week). Things changed after we got back together, I think mostly because for the first time we had really risked pushing things too far, pushing each other too far. It wasn’t about wanting to grow up, or be a family (as much as I wish it was) but more about fear that that wire would actually snap and we’d both be flung away.

At this point Roger wanted me to move in with him. For the record, I was against it, didn’t want to do it, hated the idea. But to this day, that decision was much more significant to me than our decision to get married. It was the first time that I really realized that he loved me. Of course we had both said that before, but I hadn’t known that the same wire that was attached to me was also attached to him.

When I was little my Dad always used to tease us girls about the scene from Aladdin where he asks Jasmine “Do you trust me?” All of a sudden that question materialized for me and I boldly (and a bit blindly) stepped off that balcony, trusting.

Up until this point I had mostly thought of myself as the devoted one. I had wanted to be together slightly more than he had, I had wanted all of the typical girl things, which he as a typical guy disdained. But over the next couple of year I realized how stupid and self-centered my idea of our relationship was. I played stupid games, and tried to force stupid ideas of how things should be, and I cringe when I think about a lot of things from this time. It’s hard enough moving out and then adjusting to being married and then adjusting to buying a house and then adjusting to having children, but doing it all more or less at once was terribly hard. Just learning to do housework and what time you needed to start cooking dinner so people actually ate but no one was starving was difficult.

Thank goodness we were so happy. We both flung ourselves into the next thing, getting married, buying a house, having another baby. We were almost a bit reckless. For the first time ever we actually fought, but the next morning I would clutch Roger’s hand and tell him that I felt so happy I thought my heart might burst. It was more slingshot action, but in a much different way because we were so grounded.

It’s like that famous Shakespeare sonnet: “Love is not love which alters when at alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no, ’tis an ever fized mark, that looks upon tempests and is never shaken.”

Our roots and trunks had grown bigger and had started to press in on each other, squeezing us tighter and closer every day, with every rain and every ray of sun. And then one day that was it. I looked down and couldn’t tell when I ended and where he began.

Now I can look around and see how much we had grown, how strong and firmly we’re both rooted in our lives together, how perfectly we have fulfilled the roles and goals we had put in front of ourselves. I would never say that we have stopped growing, but just that we have stopped slingshooting.

Even if I wanted to I could never say that we are together just because, or that we’re together solely due to circumstance. When I say that there was nothing exceptional about our meeting, no fireworks, no music, it’s not to say that it was a convenient choice.

I don’t think it was a choice at all. I had no more choice of being with Roger than a tree could choose to pull up it’s roots and plant itself somewhere else. One of my favorite book quotes is from The Awakening (I know, I know, I’m a bit obsessed with that book):

‘”Why (do I love him)? Because his hair is brown and grows away from his temples; because he opens and shuts his eyes, and his nose is a little out of drawing; because he has two lips and a square chin, and a little finger which he can’t straighten from having played baseball too energetically in his youth. Because-” “Because you do, in short,” laughed Mademoiselle.”‘

In fact, before I had even read this book I remember writing a letter to Roger to this effect. I told him how I loved the way his eyes droop to look like a sad puppy when he gets tired and how I can watch his jaw clench and relax when he’s thinking, and how he only has freckles right beneath his left eye. Now I have plenty of probably much more legitimate reasons to love him, but it’s always small things like the way he moves his shoulders when he’s working, not just that he’s working to do something for us, that enchants me the most.

There was nothing exceptional because it was obvious. Of course we would be together. From the beginning we had so much trouble staying together because we both knew that we belonged to each other. Of course I can go out and do what I want, we’re always going to be together. This might be partly due to high school egotistical confidence, and I remember I thought so when Roger literally told me “I want to be with my friends because you’ll always be here but I don’t know if they will,” but even at the time I knew he was right. And this assumption continued to manifest itself daily. I never gave Roger much excess thought, or had dreams about our wedding, or gave much thought at all to our future because I always knew it was there waiting for us. I didn’t have to dream about it, I was living it. (If you’re friends with me on fb you’ll know I love the part in Live for Today when they sing “let other’s plan their futures, I’m busy loving you,” mostly because I couldn’t sum up better how my life with Roger has been. Our love wasn’t calculated, or planned, or decided, but just lived. Kind of like our daughter lol.)

 Call it fate or destiny or God’s hand, or any other kind of romantic word you’d like, but ultimately we’re together because I was a honeysuckle and he was a hazel tree and it’s our purpose in life to wrap ourselves around each other and never let go.

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One thought on “The Honeysuckle and The Hazel Tree

  1. KDorm says:

    Kier, it's 8:35 and I'm crying at work. I'm so proud of you and am filled with so much hope that this kind of love exists, it's tangible, and it's possible. Cheers, and congratulations!


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