When Erika asked me to come to the courthouse on Monday morning, she was pretty relaxed about it. I, being me, was ecstatic. I know I'm in my 20s and so many people around me are getting married, but it doesn't make all the unions and love and happy things any less exciting! I was especially excited because Erika and Gordon have become two of the closest friends I have made in my time here in New York, especially since Erika and I were in our small cohort of grad students together and worked together a lot throughout the year. There have been lots of cups of tea, lots of long conversations on the stairs outside the Barney building, evenings at their apartment with absinthe and vegan yumminess and a lot of exchanging of knowledge and readings and friendship.
One of my favorite things that Erika has given me throughout this year is loving, critical and reflective conversation. We live our lives so quickly and move so fast and are connected, thanks to technology, almost 100% of the time. An acquaintance from high school posted a photo from a page of a book that she was reading and it said, "Diagnostico de la civilizacion: En algun lugar de alguna selva, alguien comento: Que raros son los civilizados. Todos tienen relojes y ninguno tiene tiempo." I translated myself so if anyone's reading this has a correction, please chime in: "A Diagnosis of Civilization: In a place in a forest, someone commented: How strange is civilization. All of them have watches but none of them have time." This was a moving passage for me, and it made me think of what is lost when we move too quickly, and the first thing that gets cut is reflection. Even in the classroom environment, when I'm running out of time, it is that closing circle and exit ticket and reflection that gets cut, not because I want to, but simply because of time. In life, then, it becomes extra important to carve out time to reflect. To think about what we've done and why. To decide, now that we've removed ourselves a little bit, whether we've made the right choices, what drove us to those choices, and what we should be doing next. Erika and our other friend Emily have reminded me this year of how imperative it is that we build in this time for ourselves and with each other in order to live more fulfilling, more compassionate, more just lives that are in line with love, harmony and peace.
Erika also has gifted me with so many profound literary resources this year. My favorite has been Dreaming the Dark by Starhawk. An excerpt: "Love connects; love transforms. Loving the world, for what it is and our vision of what it could be, loving the world's creatures (including ourselves), caring for the stream, picking up the garbage at our feet, we can transform. We can reclaim our power to shape ourselves and the world around us." It has become so easy to feel small in our world and it's become almost natural to feel like what we do or say does not matter. We have to actively reclaim our power to "shape ourselves and the world around us" and for me, creating is one of the ways that I do this and begin to feel big again. It's a way for me to feel like I have things in me that do not yet exist in the world, and perhaps I could be of use. Reflection is a way to remind myself that I am already of use and it helps me get grounded in the fact that the small things do matter. If I don't pick up that trash, who else will? Whose day can I help by picking it up myself since I see it right now?
Erika and Gordon have one of the most loving partnerships I have ever gotten the privilege of witnessing. They cook for one another, clean together, cuddle their adorable cats together and truly consider one another partners and equals in their relationship. You can tell in the way they look at each another that both of them have a deep and profound respect for the other. It is love like this that needs to exist more in the world. Love like this needs to be celebrated more. This is the type of love that you see and you just know: those two have it. That thing that we're all looking for.
Erika is one of the most reflective people I know and it seems to me that this is one of the cornerstones of strong, powerful relationships. I can only imagine that Gordon is of the same mindset. Erika and I are both the type of people to ask: "what did I do in this situation?" rather than point fingers and say, "Look at what this person did to me!" This kind of reflection, this turning inwards to find understanding leads to dialogue. Dialogue leads to understanding. Understanding then seems to lead to real love.
“It is when you lose sight of yourself, that you lose your way. To keep your truth in sight you must keep yourself in sight and the world to you should be a mirror to reflect to you your image; the world should be a mirror that you reflect upon.”
~C. JoyBell C.
Enjoy the photos from Erika and Gordon's loving Monday morning below:
"The opposite of war isn't peace. It's creation." ~Rent