12 years is not an insignificant period of time. A relationship has time to move beyond lust and long nights of intense gazing, touching and passion, into activities shared and joyful, through personal moments of pain and loss.
It is time to parent three teenagers into adulthood and for pinching ourselves and each other as we notice they’re fine, wonderful, connected young people who’ve bonded over shared bedrooms, holidays and many meals.
A dozen years is time enough for shallow roots to cement deeply, for flourishing gardens to prosper… before they wither from lack of water, nutrients and nurture.
12 years is time enough for a relationship to merge into mundanity and boredom, to create space for reflection and personal inquiry, to notice familiar feelings of loneliness and to hold and deny growing anger and desperation.
12 years offers new life and growth, allows for the entry and departure of friends and illicit love, time for bodies to strengthen and collapse, and hearts to slowly shut down.
12 years is a significant period of life, 15% of an average life if we’re lucky.
Events over 12 years accumulate and make an impression that cannot be easily erased or blotted out. What joy there is in recalling them. What pain and sorrow also.
I carry them with me. The budding growth of love, new life, adventures, laughter, passion, pain. Last week I reviewed them in picture form, as words on cards, certificates, title deeds and bank accounts. All packed into boxes or chucked in the bin.
I packed one box for each year. The rest went to Vinnies or landfill or the grateful hands of two of the three young adults fledged over those years. The beautiful irreducible bounty of twelve years.
The library was greater. It was amassed over a lifetime. It went to Lifeline. In three van packed days.