“Do you like pineapple?”, Lisa asked me this morning, as we were sitting on the couch, in the peace between breakfast and the school run.
Lisa and I met 516 days ago. Today was the day we broached pineapple.
My friends Bill and Michelle are both the same age as I am, born the same season in the same year. They’ve been together for a long time. They know whether the other likes pineapple or not. They’ve known for awhile, I’m certain.
Many—most—of my friends and familiars are in well-established, finely-honed partnerships. I am in what is, relatively speaking, the early stages of one. The pre-pineapple, and now-just-post-pineapple, stage.
I was in the public library yesterday and noticed the instructions for what to do if you discover a fire:
Those instructions seemed familiar, like something I’d noticed before.
I had noticed before, in 2019, in the Queen Charlotte Armoury:
The difference: in the library we’re told to evacuate area immediately, whereas in the armoury proceed to fight the fire.
The gift—flowing from the tragedy, but, yes, also the gift—of being allowed to reinvent myself at my halfway point is that I get to choose what to do in case of fire.
My life with Catherine worked. We reached the pineapple stage, and well-beyond (our last big summer together was spent, in part, in Europe, crossing paths with the selfsame Bill and Michelle, enjoying the easy back-and-forth that well-honed couples can together). We bought and renovated two houses. We raised a child together. We travelled far and wide. We stayed together through many thicks and many thins.
The interior landscape of our relationship, though—the part that nobody ever sees, the layers much, much deeper than pineapple—had an upper limit; it wasn’t shallow, but neither was it vulnerably deep; it was more “evacuate area immediately” than “proceed to fight the fire.”
We were younger, of course, and that explains some of it. But we were both afraid. Afraid to turn to truly face each other, to risk everything by finding our way to a deeper honesty, a more profound vulnerability. I write that with sadness for realizing the terrain we didn’t cover, for the parts of each other we never showed ourselves. Sadness for knowing it’s too late, that I was too timid.
The interior landscape of my relationship with Lisa—the important part, the part of being alive with someone else that’s about being alive—is where the growing edge of our coupling is found. This part—the part that nobody ever sees—this is where we get to decide to “proceed to fight the fire.” Where we turn toward each other when our impulses are to turn away. Where we walk through the discomfort of candour to get to the deeper connection that’s on the other side.
This sub-pineapple part of being together is frightening, thrilling, unfamiliar new territory for me. I don’t know the way. We are finding the way together.
I wish I knew this as a younger man. I am enormously grateful to be learning it now.
Yes, I do like pineapple.
Oh Peter. Such a profound piece of writing! You sent me on a tour of remembrance.
It's probable that so many of us look back on a long marriage recognizing kernels that were never 'plumbed' - as lovely as the marriage had been. That, in hindsight, is such a sad realization.
However, look at this moment. Your moment of recognition!
Mine came too late for me to benefit. Too late to re-apply its wisdom. Yours has surfaced just when you needed it!
The gods can be SO kind. In mid life you have been given a second chance. You have found Lisa. Live! Love!
You love to travel. Go to Hawaii with Lisa and eat pineapple where it grows. Pineapple never tastes as good anywhere else!
Beautiful thoughts eloquently transformed into writing.
Very familiar - relationships can feel risky, but only by challenging the boundaries can we grow. Hopefully together, but yes - sometimes apart.
Artfully told and touching to read. Mazel tov to both of you!
What a joy to read, so happy for you both!