I can’t say it enough.
Thank you, Benjamin.
Thank you for giving me these years of writing, these years of working peacefully at my own pace, this long opportunity of staying inside my head, listening to my voice.
Thank you for freeing me from the cacophony of student chatter. As lovely as teaching often was, it wasn’t writing, and you understood. You knew I needed quiet, alone time. I needed to be with my art.
Before you, I was tired, tired of giving my creative energy to others. Whether it was for my job or for a partner, I had allowed myself to be the more supportive one. I’m not saying that lovers didn’t give back, or that it wasn’t rewarding to see the lights of learning flicker over my students’ heads. Of course they did, and of course it was, but I felt this need to give like a strange addiction, and in this habit, I forgot myself.
Thankfully, my desire to write started pushing teaching out of the way, and I paid attention. I made a huge change, leaving my job, family, and friends to move to Chicago and focus on getting my Master’s in Interdisciplinary Art.
At that time, I also thought that I needed to push relationships out of my way. I didn’t like the idea of being alone, but I couldn’t see how it would work. How could I be with someone and have my space and time? How could I be with someone and say, “Please don’t talk to me in the mornings, because this is when I hear poetry. Oh, and don’t speak to me from about 3pm through sundown, because I also use the falling of the light for poetry.”
I thought it would be impossible to ask this of anyone.
I thought I couldn’t have both love and art.
And then I met you.
I was at the washing machine in the laundry room of our brownstone when you came down the steps. I saw your eyes, and I was startled, in a good way, a very good way. You had the sexiest, most playful eyes I’d ever seen.
I wanted to trust your eyes, believe that you were honest, because you had those sweet, long lashes like my nephew’s. Oh, I saw all of this right away, and I was startled. I wanted to trust you, but my claws were up. I was a defensive, fed up kitty cat.
But we struck up a conversation. I asked you a typical, American question. “So, what do you do?”
“I’m a musician,” you answered, beaming.
“Oh,” I replied with sarcasm, “everyone’s a musician in Chicago.”
You jolted back a little. “I’m sorry. Do you have a problem with musicians?”
“No, not really, it’s just that, well, do you have a real job?” At this point, I couldn’t believe how snotty I was behaving, but like I said, I was tired. I had been with musicians, and I had had it with them.
You were unfazed, even amused. “As a matter of fact,” you said, “I work for the City of Chicago Cultural Center. Here’s my card. Why don’t you call me when you’re a little less bitter?”
That’s how we started. You scolded me and asked me out at the same time. Smoothest, sexiest move ever.
And I fell hard.
Early on, we put cards on the table.
You said you’d never want kids. Never, ever. I said my poems were my children, and I would never, ever want human ones. You wanted to believe me, but your previous girlfriend had made the same promise, only to feel the tick of her biological clock and change her mind. I assured you that I had smashed my clock long ago. Well, I didn’t say those words, but you understood.
We’ve kept this promise. Our art, our songs have been the only children we’ve birthed, the only compass we’ve ever followed. We’ve even jumped the pond in the name of following artistic dreams, and you made this possible.
You said, “Do you want to move to Europe, take a break from teaching, and focus on writing your novel?”
And I said, “Hell yes, I do!”
So we moved, and the experience changed me forever, like I knew it would. Berlin was the perfect place to start my novel, the perfect city to work as a writer. I wrote every day in the cafes. I was part of an amazing writer’s group. I felt at home.
Unforeseen circumstances made us return to the States. While it may be some time before we can return to Europe, I want you to know, (again) that I am grateful for the time we did spend abroad. I became a writer, and you made this happen.
I can’t say it enough.
Thank you, Benjamin.
It’s five or six relocations later, and my book is almost finished. You’ve continued to support me, even though in the States, it’s been more challenging. You’ve reassured, encouraged, and inspired. Essentially, you’ve made me feel that it’s ok to be a stay-at-home poet. Ha ha
And sometimes, when I need to get out of my head and give the creative process a breath, you’ve taken me out on some incredible dates. Thank you, Benjamin, for sharing these recent, Romantic experiences:
eating tapas in the city
taking the train to Cold Spring for fried catfish tacos
shopping for an antique box to hold our love letters
perusing record stores
seeing films at Jacob Burns
bike riding by the lakes, looking for our snapping turtle
eating grilled cod tacos, chips and guacamole
discovering local BBQ
wandering among cedar trees while bells sounded/appreciating the gorgeous sound installation by Taylor Dupree
going to see live music/appreciating singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane and the yMusic blends of violin, viola, cello, clarinet, flute, and trumpet ( Here I send a special thank you to our friend, Loretta, for gifting us with the amazing tickets!)
passionately defending the rights of frogs
continuously making music with me, your Dwindler partner
Benjamin, I didn’t think it was possible to continuously fall in love in someone, but you’ve proven to me that it is. Thank you. I promise, I will work hard to get this baby published, and make a little money, so you can focus more on your music. I promise, my P.Y.T, I promise.