It might just be the most romantic and intimate thing ever said to me. It’s a statement of depth and wisdom that speaks to the complexities of relationship, the requirements for making one work, and that hints at the challenges of time. And, as a writer with a special appreciation for a well turned phrase, I knew immediately that I’d never express it any better than she had.
The subject was us, the relationship between my woman and I. And the speaker was that woman, Marzena, whom I call Ponczka. She said to me one day, as we were wondering at how fresh, alive and rich our relationship felt, after several years together, “You have a talent for me.”
Her words had the immediate ring of truth – that we both have a talent for each other. Because it isn’t that we’re successful because of any mastery over abstract skills or character traits, like honesty, selflessness or a capacity for love. It’s rather that we ‘fit’. There is a compatibility between us that is so strong that we succeed with one another when we are most ourselves. I’ve said something to her that relates to her beautiful summing up, but is much less elegant, that while I know she isn’t perfect, she’s perfect for me. So much is about how we match and compliment each other.
But talent is more than fitting. To be an instrument for generating life, a talent has to be developed. And we’ve both recognized that our talent for one another has been developed through our previous relationships, through our disappointments, through all our absorbing of the realities of life.
We’ve learned, for example, to let small grievances go, as well as the judgement and irritation of unmet expectations. We’ve learned that giving is its own reward, to be appreciated for our own willingness to give, rather than held hostage for appreciation and thanks that may not always come, at least not in the quantity and manner we expect. We’ve learned to accept one another for who we are – and that the difficult things we present to one another are all part of a package. And one of the most potent aspects of our talent – and one we have lots of occasion to laugh about – is that we know what to take seriously in one another’s complaints, demands and declarations, and what to ignore. Well, perhaps not ignore, but...not take so seriously. And it’s not always a matter of the what, often it’s merely about the when or the how of something said or done. After all, part of the blessing of an intimate relationship is the freedom to occasionally mis-speak or mis-behave, even to mis-feel. It’s a freedom of being taken for more than you present at the moment, the grace of being taken for the broader self you are, known and unknown.
I increasingly recognize that because of Ponczka’s talent for me I am able to grow and stretch beyond what I already am, beyond what I already know of myself. Her talent for me is an expression of love and acceptance. It creates a safe, home space, a kind of sanctuary. And the more solid it is, the more I can safely explore, the more I can look outward, trusting that foundation I move from. It’s why I can be such a child with her, and she with me. It’s not taking for granted, but close to that. The difference is in seeing, knowing and acknowledging what’s there, rather than, well...taking for granted.
A talent for me. Yes, recognizing small distinctions, being sensitive to time, having patience to know, to wait, to listen, and a giving quality that is a constant reward to itself. No, I’ll never express it any better than that.