January 6, 2011

Apart Together. ~ Tara Kennaway

You have a pair of earrings you love. They were given to you by a dear friend. They are all intricate silver and sparkling beads. When you wear them, people always compliment you on how beautiful they are and how much they suit you so when you tell them where you got them from it is like both you and your friend are being given a compliment. When you walk past a mirror you check yourself to be reminded how pretty they are and in conversation you can’t help but reach up to casually finger them every now and then. But one day you lose one of the earrings when out walking. One is still in your ear but the other has fallen out somewhere along the way. You try to retrace your steps, scanning the ground to find it. But it’s hopeless and so you are left with only one. The earring that is left is confined to the bottom of your jewelry box. It won’t be worn again, but throwing it away seems wrong. You don’t have the heart to tell your friend that you lost one but now that you can no longer wear her gift you can’t help but feel something has changed in your relationship. Now that they are no longer a pair the remaining earring seems to have lost its former beauty.

You read a story about orphaned twins. They are sent to the same orphanage as babies and spend the first 2 years of their lives there together. They sleep in one crib and are dressed in identical clothes. The orphanage still has a photo of them sleeping with their arms and legs intertwined. But then two couples come to the orphanage to adopt a baby. The orphanage wants to give both babies the best chance at a new life so they don’t tell the couples that each baby in fact has a twin. The babies are adopted out to parents from different countries, divided by oceans and cultures. They are never told that they have been separated from their twin sibling. You wonder if somehow they still know and if they have memories from that time when they were two equal parts of a whole. You can’t help but think that they might grow up feeling that a part of them is missing but they’ll never fully understand what that part is. But then you think—don’t we all grow up sensing that we’re somehow not yet fully formed, searching for the something else that will make us complete?

You have a set of furniture all carved from the same polished wood. In the set are two small tables, matching in height, size and shape. They are set up in your apartment on either side of the sofa. On one of them you place a lamp, you use them to display trinkets, rest books you are reading on. Then you move to a new, smaller apartment and there is not enough room for all your furniture. You sell one of the tables at a garage sale but keep the other. But then you move again to a bigger apartment and suddenly there is a space on one side of the sofa where the other table would fit just perfectly. To someone else everything looks fine the way you have set it up, but for you, knowing that there was once another table, when you look around the room you just feel a sense of lack. You try to find another table to match but they don’t make them like that any more. You wonder what this sense of unfilled potential space means; is wishing you had that table back what is called regret?

There are two tiny starfish on a rock. You find them when you are wading at the beach in low tide and see them sparkling in the shallow water. You pick up the rock and admire their perfect symmetry, one point of each star reaching out to the other, nearly touching, almost as if in a gesture of love. You are mesmerized by your discovery. You start to carry the rock to the shore, wanting to preserve this picture, keep this poetry to take home, treasure and make your own. But you stumble as a wave pushes against your legs and the rock slips from your hands back into the water. When you find it again you see there is now only one starfish left on the rock. You look down at the waves dragging the water away from your feet and think of that small, perfect star floating far away from its starmate. Your heart floods with grief, knowing it is you who has caused this loss.

You are in love. The love is like a glow whenever you are near one another. It makes it difficult to speak sometimes because your feelings aren’t yet associated with words. You think of things you want to say but then forget you didn’t end up saying them because they were so real in your mind. Even a casual touch between you becomes an electrical charge. Looking the other in the eye can be more powerful than you are ready for so you have to look away. The connection you have makes amazing things happen, like discovering experiences you have shared before you even knew each other or running into each other when you least expect it. The love appears in your dreams, as you write or think the other’s name. It expands you beyond your bodily boundaries; you radiate and ache with it. But the one you are so in love with does not know how you feel. You are too afraid to tell them in case their response doesn’t link the two of you into the whole that your heart is yearning for. You would rather stay in love for as long as you can than face the fear it may not be returned. But something bothers you. Is it really loving you are doing when it is being done apart and not together? Can you really call it love when it is love that isn’t shared?

Tara Kennaway wouldn’t call herself a writer, rather just someone who occasionally writes. Hailing originally from Australia and then having lived a quarter of her life in Russia, she now calls Beijing in China home. Aside from working full time at Intrepid Travel (intrepidtravel.com) she is a student of yoga at Yoga Yard (yogayard.com), enjoys attending live music, theatre and dance events in Beijing, studying Chinese and finding out new random facts that she can casually insert into conversation.

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