We have weird cats. Sammy has long legs like a professional basketball player. He lays on his back with his body curved like a question mark. His head is at a constant tilt as if he is forever wondering what was that? what was that? He likes to have the top of his head scratched. If you do it right–hard with the tips of your nails–his lip will flip up like he’s Elvis and he’ll show a single tooth.
Last night, Sammy was laying stretched out on my lap, and I was telling him about the book of essays by Ann Patchett that I’m reading. And about how he is such a good, good, handsome boy. W reached over to pet him and tell him what a good, good, handsome boy he is, and he did that Elvis thing and showed his one tooth.
“How come I can love him just as he is but I can’t love myself like that?” she asked.
I didn’t have an answer.
“You can,” I said in a way that annoyed even me.
We are all perfect, but we don’t live that way. We’re always striving for something else, something better, something different, something more or maybe something less.
We’re too hard on ourselves. We expect too much. We’re all broken from childhood, broken from life and we’re doing the best we can with our shattered selves.
Maybe that’s why we search for love. For someone who will love us in all the ways we can’t love ourselves. Someone who sees our beauty when we can’t. Someone who holds us when we feel like we don’t deserve to be held and tells us all of our good points until we finally start believing them. Like they are truths that were there all along.
Here’s the thing about me and W. We’re opposites.
She’s flip flops and tank tops and let’s sing all the words to Les Miserables at the top of our lungs. She’s car window open, hair blowing, naked toes pressed against the inside of my windshield. She’s lick the side of my face when I’m grumpy just to get me to smile.
I’m bright white T-shirts and cargo shorts and NPR. I’m crew socks, new sneakers, hair short and tight. I’m Windex and right angles and notebooks with lines. Always lines.
I could have chosen a thousand girls. But I chose W.
Sometimes she has to remind me that I like her wild ways.
“C’mon, you like it when I leave little toe prints on your windshield,” she says.
“No. I don’t,” I say. I roll my eyes and make that face.
But she knows it’s not true. I know it’s not true.
I like her quirks and oddities. Those things that make her unique. Those things that make her W.
Those things that make her perfect.
* * *
What makes your significant other perfect?
The same the opposite makes him perfect but so does the similarities.
He’s the lid to your pot. Or maybe the other way around.
This is such a beautiful post.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed.
Beautiful post. Thanks for the reminder that we all need to accept ourselves as lovingly as we accept others. P.S. I thought at first you were describing our Snapple–long legs, tilted head, friendly display of fangs…
“Maybe that’s why we search for love.”
The short answer is that we are trained from birth to please our parental figures in order to get a positive response from them. The message is: “Little One, don’t be selfish and do what YOU want to do, please MY selfish ass and do what I want you to do. It’s for your own good.” You end up short-circuiting your intuition and looking to others for guidance and approval. It’s the ultimate conditional love wrapped in a package of low self-esteem with a big, shiny bow of guilt on top.
That’s why cats are so freakin’ awesome, way more than dogs. Dogs will curry favor and seek approval but cats say, “I’ll be with you in a minute, I’m busy taking care of myself. Feel free to love me while you wait.” Now, THAT’S a role model.
Thanks for that. Probably why it takes most people so long to undo all that childhood stuff. And cats rule, dogs drool. At least that’s what my cats always say.
I agree with your cats.
There’s a great kid’s book you might enjoy that plays with the pull of opposites. My partner and I enjoyed it. It’s by Berkeley Breathed (of Bloom County fame) called “Pete & Pickles”. Pete is an orderly, predictable pig whose life is upended by the irreverent, up for anything elephant, Pickles. Needless to say, I’m a mostly a Pickles with a touch of Pete. Since I live with 8 cats and a dog, I have to be more than a little weird.
Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have to check it out. Call me Pete.
It’s called love! 😀
Oh, right. It all makes sense now.
Gorgeous post! Brought tears to my eyes : )
I’m a bit wild, and a bit orderly. My Tom just loves it all it seems : )
But I’m definitely the chatty one : )
Thanks so much. This is one of my favorite posts. It’s true what they say … opposites do attract.