29 October 2010

What love's got to do with it

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Love is a word used to describe a complex system of feelings and actions. But what is love?

Love is not something you can operationalise, so I avoid using it when I want to be precise. I love my wife, I say I love my wife, but I'm not bothered by the exact specific meaning of it. No citation needed here--I'd cite Rick Jackson if I needed to. The constituent parts of my love for her and her love for me come up at times, and I recognise them when I can as data points in some larger system that I have no understanding of.

When my father was here in the summer, we (Yoko, the girls, my dad, and I) were walking through the supermarket. I was talking to my dad about meat, specifically how we as a species probably eat too much and how meat farming is adding to global warming. These are the sort of soft liberal issues I bring up so as to ease the acceptance of my political (and eventually spiritual) beliefs with people I know oppose them. Meat is not overtly political or spiritual, and the thought process is clearly explainable. It's probably not helping anything, but what the hell, I can try, right?

Anyway, as I was having this conversation, Yoko says to me in Japanese, 'I think I'm pregnant.' This came out of the blue. Certainly not, I thought. I mean... no, no, certainly not, right? Certainly not. My meat conversation with my dad ended immediately and I eventually said to him, sorry, Yoko just told me she thinks she's pregnant, which is not something that's really fair to say to your dad in the supermarket when you're shopping for meat.

I remember that day was very bright: lots of sun, no clouds.

Well, Yoko wasn't pregnant, but it got a series of conversations rolling. The first being that I didn't want to, again, have a child by accident. Way too much surprise for me. Also, come to think of it, I didn't really want to have another kid anyway. We have two kids: why would we need a third? This was, I thought, quite a logical position. Two kids makes sense in a lot of ways, especially if you're trying to be mobile in the way that I want to be. Four is also divisible by two, something that five is not. I come from a family of five: it's fine, but four, I thought. Four is enough.

This was not how Yoko saw it: she had always envisioned a family of five. The three kids able to support each other at different times, a more complex set of relationships to help them mature and grow together. It was, she conceded, her dream, not something that could be argued, with the positives outweighing the negatives. It was simply and quietly what she always had and probably always would want.

I opposed this on my rational grounds, hoping that it would go away. But over the course of a couple of months it was becoming clear that this thing, these three kids, was not an issue that was going to go away, and though I might be able to eventually win the argument, it would be at a cost. When the conversation came up again for the third or fourth time, it was clear: yielding was my responsibility and yielding would, in terms of relationship capital, be significant. More than anything that could ever be said, a million 'I love yous'.

So, now, a speck of baby floats inside Yoko and one day that speck may grow up and read how they came about. So I have this to say to you, tiny speck of baby: You are special. Your sisters are special too, but you are particularly special because you are the instantiation of my love for your mother. You are the choice of love: of saying yes instead of no and of faith in the strength and longevity of our family, gathered up and bound by love.

2011 will be a big year, as was 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 before it. I suppose my penchant for stress can't be sated. Oh well: what is life if not for living. July 2011, we start again.
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