Self portrait as: trying to get the balance right / by Christina Rosalie

The morning after our fight feels exactly the way it does when you walk outside after a rainstorm: everything is washed clean, and light refracts from a thousand small droplets of water.

He looks different to me: maybe more like the person he really is. And as I watch him making coffee, I see that this is what marriage is: a process of holding the mirror up again and again for each other, so that we may see ourselves anew—and also, so that we may be seen anew. It takes both: to see, and to be seen, to become truly aware of ourselves—and despite the hurt of it, this is what we offer each other in the moments when we hurl words about in the narrow place of our anger.

I catch myself sucking in air, realizing that no matter how long we’ve known each other, I’ll only know a small sliver of who he is. This is why I’m grateful for our moments of tension---because they force something deeper to open, and for a brief moment I catch a glimpse of the him that’s bigger than the picture I already have.

It is so easy to grow accustomed to seeing only the part of him that is us. The person that picks up where I leave off, emptying the dishwasher, sautéing zucchini, running Bean’s bath, or the other myriad things we do together every day. Easier still to see him for the things he doesn’t do—the small, banal things that don’t really matter at all, that my mind alights on like a hungry vulture after a day spent giving, without time to myself.

Today I lie in the tall grass on the hill behind our house, all alone. The green is so vibrant here it almost sings: the foliage is such a riot of emerald hues, dense with insects and ruffled in the wind. I close my eyes and let go, feeling the earth spin.

I feel my cells drinking this solitude, replenishing the part of me that has grown sparse in the past few months, when every moment was jam-packed with responsibility for things that had very much to do with us, but never to do with simply me. I know he feels this too, this fierce need for time spent all alone doing things according to pure selfish whimsy. We both thirst for it, just as we thirst for each other, and this is the push-pull I think we’ll always feel. A struggle to find the balance between our separate selves, and the self that is sum of our love.