Yesterday, as I was mixing up a batch of buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, I Want a Little Sugar in my Bowl by Nina Simone came on. I sang along, a little louder than I usually sing along, and when I was done, I asked Theresa to tell me the memory that comes up for her when she hears that song.
It wasn’t a true question of curiosity. I know the memory – it’s why I sang louder and why I asked.
That song is the story of our meeting, long before there was a twinkle of consideration about a romantic attachment. A mutual contact introduced us in passing at a bar; a little while later, I sang that song during karaoke. It was a stretch for me, a knee-knocker of a stretch. Set me in front of a packed auditorium to talk about anything related to a Life Well Lived and I’m in my zone. Tell me to sing a ditty and I’m not sure I’ll be able to croak out the first syllable.
But I did sing and my friend who was a professional musician gave me a “not bad.” And Theresa, who I had just met earlier that evening, said she thought I was brave.
And so yesterday, on the 1st anniversary of our transition from partners to spouses, I sang extra loud and asked for her to tell me the story again.
Only she didn’t tell the story I expected. Not quite.
Instead of a story of having happened to still be sitting in the bar when I went up to the mic shivering with nerves, she told a story of having been sitting on the deck outside the bar, overlooking the park on a sunny early evening, and coming in when she heard me start to sing. She said she liked what she was hearing.
This is not a consequential story in terms of our origin story as a couple or my abilities as a singer.
This is a story about curiosity.
For both Theresa and me, this is a second marriage. The story of her first marriage is for her and her ex to tell. From my perspective, the story of my first marriage is one of great friendship and a fatal lack of curiosity.
Oh, we talked curiosity but we didn’t live curiosity.
Instead, we sank into the warm fuzzy of perceived knowingness, a sense of being so deeply attuned to each other that curiosity was frivolous. Even as life served us up evidence to the contrary, we nuzzled more deeply into a comforting story of certainty… until we ran out of rope.
And so as Theresa and I have shaped our relationship over the last however many years (we tend to count from when we started conversing regularly, long after the bar meeting, in December 2016) to try and gain a facility with the dance of both knowing one another – our wounds, scabs, and scars; hopes and preferences and fond memories; our unique definitions of Spirituality and a Life Well Lived – and keeping curiosity about our individual and shared evolution.
Yesterday, hearing this new twist to a story about which I had zero curiosity, reminded me how easily certainty spreads itself over our lives, creeping in like a fog that has its own beauty but ultimately obscures clear seeing.
Also as with fog, moving slowing with eyes peeled is the way forward.