unusual bedfellows: miley cyrus and jane gardiner.

A long time ago I tweeted the following.

“A reason I’m skeptical about Miley Cyrus: don’t ever tell anyone you love them more than they love you. You don’t know what they’re feeling.”

This I honestly believe: you can never know (with exact certainty: my goal in life is to learn someone well enough to know something about what they feel) what someone else is feeling. Everybody encounters this truth every day: it’s the main cause of most misunderstandings (well, that, tone of voice, and the Internet).

It’s been a hard winter.

It’s not over yet, but it’s looking up. November, December and some parts of January (not to mention the once-monthly exam days) have been kind of rough. And I found myself, often, without the energy or motivation to roll out of bed until three p.m., or answer an email, or go hang out with friends, or even go to class or take out the trash. Serious emotions cropped up only when I fought with my boyfriend or got seriously scared by myself – otherwise nothing excited me, nothing pissed me off, and very little made me cry.

I think – well, there are several things it could have been caused by.

1. Northern Sweden. Seriously, have you seen this place in December?

2. Winter. SAD is technically a thing, right?

3. Alleged family history of depression. No one in my dad’s family has ever been treated for it so far as I know, but my mom swears up and down that he and his family all have it.

4. Massive life change. I switched continents after moving only once before in my whole life – and that three hours down the road from the house I lived the first eighteen years in.

5. A phenomenon that Jane Gardiner can describe better than I can.

Who is Jane Gardiner? A character in Madeleine L’Engle’s ADORABLE posthumous novel The Joys of Love who has a boyfriend named John Peter. Have at it.

“When John Peter goes out of a room,” Jane said, “it’s as though he takes part of me with him. I’m not complete unless we’re together. I’m talking to you, now, and the sun’s warm and I feel it, and I like you more than any of our friends, but part of me just isn’t here. John Peter has it. I – I don’t know what part of me it is – I can’t explain it – but it’s just as important as a leg or an arm. And I keep waiting for John Peter to bring it back. Behind everything I say or do I’m waiting for him.”

I’m enjoying my exchange experience. I am. Promise. I’ve learned so much this year already (cooking, getting candle wax out of shirts, appreciating tea, guts, resourcefulness, how to wrap my head in a towel after a shower). It’s been so good for me. I don’t know what souls are made of but it has taken mine and tempered it with a certain amount of elbow grease and maturity. I hope. I think. I think I can see that much with accuracy. And I’ve made friends with some very wonderful people and we have had (and will continue to have) fun together.

But part of me just isn’t here, and behind everything I say or do I’m waiting for it to come back – or rather, for my time to go back to it.

And Sam has it.

The interesting thing is that the novel was written in the 40s (forgotten and not published until 2008), but though technology has moved on the soul has not. I text Sam nearly daily, often chronically, and we skype or call periodically. But still, he has a piece of me that’s missing, and while you can attach loads of things to messages these days, he can’t attach the missing piece to a WhatsApp message and beam it across the ocean to me. Nor can he attach himself. And I’m feeling the lack.

I’m beginning to feel some of my energy come back, which is what makes me ascribe some of my ennui and blah-ness this winter to winter itself and no sunshine and that kind of thing. But I think, behind everything I say or do, even though I’m managing now to send emails and attend choir rehearsals and frolic in the snow with my friends and think about planning a trip to Riga or Berlin, I am waiting for the day I get home to my missing piece.

Music I heard with you was more than music, and bread I broke with you was more than bread. – Conrad Aiken




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