At the start I want the image whole, crisp, done.
Love is never like that.
The scenery on the box is epic, clear, breathtaking. I can’t choose between the sky filled with stars, the ocean expanse or the mountains rolling green.
Love is a puzzle that takes a lifetime, but I want it all in one afternoon.
I buy the box, get home and spread it out on the table.
It’s so easy and fun in the “we can do this together” beginning. It’s all seductive and easy to sit side by side, even when there’s a mess or frustration or pieces everywhere.
It’s the middle that takes grit and guts, patience and perseverance. The middle is no longer the same type of exciting. The middle can be confusing and boring as well as stable and comforting.
It’s slower going.
All the corner pieces have already been put down and placed.
The edges are easiest. They are tent stakes, framing out the space.
Then comes all the fragments and odd shapes trying hard to fit together. The pieces almost indistinguishable from one another. There are tens, hundreds or maybe thousands.
Maybe the puzzle piece pool is just the ambition of the puzzle maker.
Maybe it’s a koan—asking how much work I will put in for a sublime image that isn’t sublime in every moment of creation.
The image on the box is only what is made in the end. It’s a promise. An intention.
It’s made up of all the days and parts. I forget to love each puzzle piece in my rush to be done.
I forget the image is the inspiration we use to rise up to, take aim at and work towards. We’re not supposed to be done with the working towards. We’re not supposed to live inside the image on a box.
Our love can’t be on a cover made my another.
There’s never been another us before.
So often I want to see the complete unfolding before the pieces are even out and turned over, my fingers lust to sort by color.
Is it my need to control chaos with action?
Sometimes that helps, and sometimes it only makes moist a joy that wants to be dry and breathe.
Sometimes I spoil what I mean to preserve.
I’m sorry for trying to make love a rear view mirror that only magnifies what is behind and warns of what’s coming up to pass. It keeps my eyes from looking forward.
Sometimes love wants to be a tractor tilling dirt and making paths in a field not tended by hand or machine.
Sometimes love needs to make space for seeds first before they can be planted.
I get impatient and nervous.
“Don’t let me get used to you,” I say, afraid you are an annual when I’m shopping the perennial aisle.
“It would be too hard to lose you,” I say, holding back as though love has no value if it doesn’t last.
Would it be easier to stay starved than to have the memory of food?
I’m sorry for pushing away what’s prepared and served up to me. Sometimes you offered to cut and feed it to me and still I was afraid.
Afraid I might like it too much and know how bland what I had been eating.
Today, driving home and missing you I thought, maybe love is like a puzzle we are supposed to piece it together forever.
Isn’t a puzzle all done only pulled apart and stuffed back in a box? What’s the rush?
I’d rather spread out into the work of devoted effort, a joint image we both tend to. Sometimes sitting with knees touching under the table.
Sometimes it’s you under a light at 11:00 p.m. and me anonymously adding a piece or two as the coffee brews the next morning.
I want to live and love like that when I remember to forget worrying and racing to be done.
Love. Love. Love.
“Nothing good ever dies,” you said, when I said I was afraid we wouldn’t even end up friends.
Love. Love. Love.
Maybe it’s a corner piece, middle or edge.
Love. Love. Love.
It’s there even if we are lovers, memories or friends.
Maybe love is a puzzle we are never meant to be finished putting together.
Author: Christine “Cissy” White
Editor: Renee Jahnke
Image: Ellyn Reeder