How To Make Love Stay

I was having a moment. “Are all of my life lessons derived from the ‘80s?” I was shouting to my wife from the other room. “Uhh, are you OK?” She started back. “That sounds like a very big and very random statement. And maybe a cry for help.” I walked out to the living room where she was reading.  

I’m just thinking about it. A day ago I was telling somebody with business partner comp issues how their situation was kind of like Risky Business. That it’s ok to take risks. “Sometimes you gotta say what the f***,” but you still have to get paid for the risks you’re taking. 

Matt. This was for work? [Laughing] You are not well. 

Or – somebody else was telling me about their team’s alignment issues, and all I could think of was The Breakfast Club. Who are the common enemies? Have you given the “You only see us as you want to see us” speech yet?

I’m going to have Simple Minds stuck in my head now. You really are struggling with this, aren’t you? It’s cute – keep going. 

You don’t even want to know what I related Overboard to. I was supposed to be talking about the decline in electric vehicle company earnings on a podcast. I ended up getting stuck on the enduring and inevitable triumph of true love before making the actual business point.   

OK, as a rule, please – no Overboard-based advice. Kidnapping and enslaving amnesia patients, that should always be wayyyy across the line. 

It’s all the way across SO many lines. [we’re both laughing]

But, come on, you’re done working for the night, right? Valentine’s Day is coming. I want one of your ‘80s life lessons for Valentine’s Day. And chocolates. But you can do the lesson first. Early present. 

Yeah, yeah. I’m done for the night, and – chocolates, of course. It’s OK, I’ll stop – I’m just fired up. Had to say this out loud to hear how ridiculous I sound. 

Hold on. Baby – I’m serious. [With eye contact, with feeling]  Please, dearest husband of mine, prove your point to me. Out of all your lessons, what’s ours? And don’t you dare say synths. 

(note: that’s a reference to a long-running joke between us – her love for synthesizers, and my declarations that anytime a synth makes an appearance in anything, it’s obviously her favorite thing ever)

Still Life With Woodpecker. 

The book?

The book. 

That’s not even a movie! [“!!!” but as a look, then “…” landing on “???”]. I’m listening. Go on. 

It’s a whole book about how to make love stay. A whole ‘80s book mind you. Now, you are going to stay, aren’t you?

Depends. I’m still listening. But my interest in this theory of yours is – drifting harder than your entire premise. What happened to movie lessons? 

[I go to the shelf and grab the book] Start with the end. “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” We met when we were still practically kids. Wasn’t the right time. We had a lot of our own growing up to make sense of. And, a lot of life we had to go live before we could meet again. I needed twice the life experience – multiple metaphorical childhoods to grow through and make peace with – just to be ready for you. I believe that.  

[She’d taken the book from me while I was talking] And don’t forget “Everything is a part of it.” 

Exactly. Glad you’re getting in on this with me. Those two things, “Everything is a part of it,” AND “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” That’s the bedrock of making love stay. Choosing to keep it all on the table. Choosing to experience growth, and making peace with the past while the future is turning into the present. None of that is easy. 

Keep going. 

The princess and the outlaw. As characters. Higher-level stuff. And not that I’m one and you’re the other. None of that bulls***. We both have both in us. In our hearts and minds. In our beliefs. A princess who represents status with no power, and an outlaw who represents power with no status. One part beauty in order, another part beauty in blowing order up

Dark, but where are you landing this?

That’s the way you make love stay! A respect for the beauty of the idea of love itself. Sure, marriage and that too, but I’m not trying to defend the institution in any way here. I’m just talking about us. Because I think you have to respect the order of what marriage represents, but also be willing or at least understanding of everything getting blown up. Good or bad, for better or for worse – surprises are a sign we’re alive. The future, definitionally, cannot be known. This is not me looking for a third midlife crisis for the record. 

Yeah. It’s starting to sound like you’re heading for your 5th right about now – 

Very funny. But seriously, a law is there to control, not create. And an outlaw is there to create, not control. It’s a beautiful balance. A yin and yang. Tied together by a mystery. Like gravity. Like the moon and the earth orbiting the sun. Just a beautiful mystery that we have the choice to marvel at, a choice to strive for. Hand me the book back, where’s the other quote, 

The word that allows “yes,” the word that makes “no” possible. The word that puts the free in freedom and takes the obligation out of love. The word that throws a window open after the final door is closed. The word upon which all adventure, all exhilaration, all meaning, all honor depends. The word that fires evolution’s motor of mud. The word that the cocoon whispers to the caterpillar. The word that molecules recite before bonding. The word that separates that which is dead from that which is living. The word no mirror can turn around. In the beginning was the word and the word was CHOICE

And this is the lesson? This is why you chose me? Princesses, outlaws, and happy childhoods, or, something? 

With ultimate respect for the mystery. With ultimate respect for what we’ve each been through on our own. With ultimate respect for the mystery of the future and what we can go through, get through, live a life through – all of it, together. I’ve never had a person like you to take on the future with. 

You aren’t about to make a Back to the Future reference are you?

No, no. But… OK I won’t. I will say – we are fast becoming Miracle Max and, oh what was his wife’s name?

Valerie. 

Of course it was. Almost Valeria.  

So close. 

Val. my Val, I’m over the ‘80s movie references. What I’m trying to say is I can’t imagine my life any other way. I know the end of the book is Robbins’ saying he doesn’t actually know how to make love stay. I’m not conveniently skipping that part. I still feel like it’s one of the most painfully honest things he wrote, that the only way to make love stay is to keep making the choice to keep love fresh. To keep life fresh. You have to choose to chase the mystery, and you have to choose to chase it together. It’s beautiful. It’s beyond anything in any of those movies the more I think about it.  

Maybe you’re an insane bastard, but you’re a genuine insane bastard. [I’m smirking at her]. It’s from the book. I saw it underlined right before I handed it back to you. I choose you, you know? I want to chase it with you too. And yes, it is beautiful.

OK. No ‘90s edition of this tonight. Maybe tomorrow, eh?

[She’s giving me the ultimate eye-roll of love] Maybe tomorrow, my mystery-surprise-filled husband. Come on, let’s take the dog for one more walk. We can check on the moon too.