22 years ago today, Marshall and I met for the first time. It was the last warm day of summer. I was at the gay swimming hole in the area, the Rock River and he came along. In all this time what amazes me most is that we love each other more. Over time the surrender to deeper love has become greater. I had no inkling of this in the marriages I saw coming up. And up to that time I had never known a gay couple for any length of time that were long term. I’ve always seen marriages that don’t feel quite right to me. There seems more separation than joining, more not quite knowing one another as deeply, and not noticing when the breath around the other changes. Our marriage is my greatest teacher about myself, the world, and observing the dance we enter into with another at any level. I wonder at times why this miracle has been granted me. I think of others I’ve known who never got a chance for true love anywhere in their lives that I could see. I remember the poverty of that state for myself. And from that former vantage point I could never have envisioned the tenderness and togetherness I experience now. One does not learn swimming or driving or sex from a book. And the blending with another life to know all of one another is a path that can be learned, but I can’t imagine it being taught. I remember my first response to knowing I have come upon something very different from what I had ever known was fear. YIKES! This had more power than I’ve seen before. What might this power mean? More chance to be hurt? More need? More work? Yes, all of that and more. I think the thing about great love is that it asks more than we can give and gives more than we can receive. And that balance of too much is a teacher in giving and receiving that goes on and on. Can we increase our receiving? Yes, thank goodness. Can we increase our giving? Yes and hooray for that too. But for me the learning has been slow. I think it took the first 7 years of being together for me to really begin to let in this other life. And by now we have a much more graceful dance. We’ve just had a few days on Cape Cod for vacation. Marshall came down with a cold, which limited our time out and about. I woke up on the next to last day with my heart not quite feeling right and had an EKG at each end of an ambulance ride- more on that anon. My main point being that we did our dance of meeting change, maybe disappointment or fear, in maybe the most graceful we’ve ever done. Sure the vacation was changed, but how we were with one another only increased in care and meeting the other where we were. Had these events happened 10 or 15 years ago, I don’t think it would have been as smooth. And like spiritual life, romantic life is cumulative- the more you show up and do the dance, the better one becomes at the dance itself and understanding what the dance is and how to be most graceful. And this shows you who you are at essence- something nearly impossible to find in the midst of noisy American popular culture. I know there are all kinds of teachers and learning situations. Disasters, great gifts, huge change, small learning adding up to larger visions- all are teachers when used well. But I am especially grateful that in my 56 years I’ve had these 22 years of learning in a very specific classroom of life called true love and that together we are acing the surprise quizzes thus far.