When answering with the same words is not an option…

By Emma Pearson

February 28, 2024

21 August 2023

All photos my own. Main photo: Ring of Brodgar, Mainland Orkney

Medjool and I have been continuing our lovely holiday and are now exploring the Orkneys.

(I understand that, while one should not say, “the Shetlands”, one can say “the Orkneys”. But perhaps I should check. (I just did… it pisses some people off….http://orkneyjar.com/placenames/orkneys.htm). Perhaps it’s simply that, before coming here, I didn’t know someone who lives here or comes from here, who might have felt entitled to correct an early error, as was the case with Shetland).

Like Shetland, the Orkney archipelago is lovely. Different to Shetland, and by golly we grieved when we left there and arrived in Kirkwall, “capital” of Orkney. It felt over-crowded, too full of tourists and visitors and foreigners. Too full – well – of people like us, having a scratch around. But we have settled into Orkney life, have had some lovely walks and naked swims on completely deserted beaches, as well as expanded our archaeological knowledge.

Our “private” beach – Bay of Tafts. A grey seal came to watch us swim.

We have been based on the northwest island of Westray for a few days, and chose what looked like a “good weather day” to visit the even smaller, neighbouring island of Papa Westray (aka “Papay”). Papay is truly tiny, and having rented bikes for the day we were able to get all over. Among other sights, we visited the Knap of Howar, one of the earliest Neolithic farmsteads in northern Europe that is still standing. It was probably inhabited around 3500-2900 BC (over 5,000 years ago).

With this beautiful set of excavated remains at our backs, we sat on the seashore eating our lunch of bread rolls and local cheese, watching the sea’s surface for seals, when Medjool suddenly turned to me and extolled, “Life is just perfect with you!”

It came so out of the blue. Not in terms of “sudden”, or unlike anything he has ever said. But just so beautifully unexpected.

And, since I can be annoying that way, as well as thanking him, I asked him what made life with me so perfect. He articulated the many joys and delights of our holiday days, the ease of being together, how we communicate, how we make decisions and work through conflict, the beauty of all of the surroundings we were in, some of my character traits, and quite a bit more.

Exquisite Knap of Howar on the island of Papa Westray

It was gorgeously lovely. A gushing and bubbling over of his love and gratitude.

Medjool is very expressive. I believe I am too. Each of us is quick to say, “I love you”, in both passionate and extraordinary moments as well as in the more mundane, everyday ones.

When Medjool says “I love you” first, I find I let the words land, and I thank him. I don’t always say “I love you” right back, if at all. That feels less important than simply thanking him. And sometimes I am the one who says “I love you” first, and he basks in it, like a seal on a rock in the sun. There isn’t a need to say it back, even though that too does happen.

But for the outburst of “Life is just perfect with you!”, I felt a sense of angst. “Oh! I can’t say that back. I can’t return the compliment. It would be inauthentic”.

It’s not the same as “I love you”. “Aw, thank you…. and I love you too”.

If he says to me, “Life is just perfect with you!”, I find I can’t reciprocate. I can’t just say, “Aw, thank you… and life is just perfect with you too”.

It feels wrong.

It feels dishonourable.

It feels like a betrayal.

As though my life before was not better.

As though my life now IS better than the life I had before.

My life now is good – it truly is.

AND, I loved my before life more.

I love Medjool. I feel very loved by him. I am grateful to have his love. I am grateful to have him in my life. I am grateful at so many levels. Truly.

AND, I preferred my life with Mike. I preferred my relationship with Mike. I preferred my love with Mike. I preferred being loved by Mike.

With Mike, I was complete. My life was complete. I felt complete. Perhaps that is my version of “perfection”.

Yes, love is love.

And love is also different.

Medjool loves me differently to how Mike loved me.

Beautifully, both of them. And differently.

I love Medjool deeply, and it is differently to how I loved, how I love, Mike.

So it can become a tough one – reciprocating affirmations of love and appreciation. If I am literal about language – and I can be a bit of a pedant about words and meaning – then there are some things I cannot reciprocate.

I can say, and fully mean, “I love you so very much”, and “I am so grateful to have you in my life”. But I cannot say, “Life is just perfect with you”.

It’s simply not true. It’s not the whole truth, anyway.

I can say, “this moment is perfect”, but not “this life”.

Yes – I am a stickler for words and expressions. Perhaps I could just get out of my head and into my heart. But my heart is still very bashed and bruised. I suspect it will always be so.

And, Medjool – it was a perfect moment. It was a perfect day. It’s been a wonderful holiday in what is becoming a wonderful relationship and partnership. I thank you and am enormously grateful for these long, long strings of perfect moments and days.

And I love you. Deeply.

I snuck a photo of Medjool as he extolled the perfection of life.
Note the doudoune in August – even on a sunny day!

About Emma Pearson

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