Em and I spent Valentine’s Day moving in together.
As in, officially.
We’ve shared space before, but never called it ‘moving in’, and we’ve never not each had our own personal boltholes. But with Swallow (my boat) sold and both of us out of town for big chunks of 2015, it felt like the right time to pool our resources and embrace cohabitation.
This included emptying my boat (Swallow) and bringing all of my earthly possessions over to her boat (currently being renamed), somehow fitting them all into a space only a little bit bigger than mine, and then making the obligatory trip to Ikea for, you know, kitchen wall hanging rail systems and storage solutions and a bin that actually works… Not to mention a full week beforehand spent painting and decorating…
So by Sunday night we were knackered. Our new shared home looked amazing but neither of us felt like cooking or doing much of anything really.
So we went to the cinema, and we saw Love is Strange.
It’s about an ageing gay couple – Ben and George – who have been living together for nearly 40 years, but after getting married, after all that time together, one partner loses his job (he works for a Catholic school who won’t stomach same-sex marriage – the homophobia is played down throughout the film, but it’s right there in the foundation of the whole story).
Forced to sell their apartment, the two men have to live with family members, separately, whilst they look for affordable accommodation. Quiet, soft-spoken music teacher Ben ends up in a non-stop party flat with a load of rowdy, fun-loving queer cops, and George takes the bottom bunk of his great-nephew’s bedroom in one of those wealthy-but-not-that-happy New York family apartments.
It’s excruciating. The couple are so very used to each others’ company, each others’ little ways, each others’ unquestioned respect for the others’ peace and space that it’s painful to see them out of their natural habitat, struggling to get on and fit in so far out of their comfort zones, gradually trying to work their way back to each other.
The Lovers, from The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans
Pretty much the whole film is spent on this – the not-cohabitation of Ben and George and how difficult that is for them. And what you end up thinking about for most of the film is not that love is strange, but that love is beautiful and often very quiet. Love is about support and respect. In this film, the central love story was also about longevity and commitment. On the weekend Em and I had moved in together – after years of being adamant that we wouldn’t – it was such a good thing to see.
For me, The Lovers tarot card isn’t about romance or partnership.
It’s more that it shows what it feels like to have a part of yourself ‘completed’ – and for the most part, I don’t think of this as happening through another person (I wrote a whole post about this here.) It could be the perfect job, a special place where you feel truly ‘whole’, an artistic practice or hobby which, when you’re doing it, makes you feel the most like you.
Em made me this when she was away for a few months.
But in Love is Strange, The Lovers is right there, in 40 years of loving partnership and a shared understanding that together is what these guys are.
In The Wild Unknown Tarot (above) The Lovers is illustrated by a pair of geese – mates for life. And, unlike any other deck I’ve seen, Anna Klaffinger has shown an ageing couple (rather than the typical young man and woman) in the Anna K Tarot:
These, to me, are just one element of what The Lovers is about, and it’s something I think I am too young to understand. I don’t know how it feels to have spent so much of your life with someone that you don’t know who you are without them, and I don’t know how it is to have lived with someone so long that to not live with them is to be somewhat incomplete.
These are concepts I instinctively rail against – I”m not a natural space-sharer and genuinely find the thought of living with a partner kinda tricky. I know Em does too. But seeing Ben and George gave me a warm fuzzy glow inside.
I have no idea how long Em and I will co-habit – we don’t know where life is taking us from one month to the next right now – but Love is Strange helped me to see the quiet beauty in living together and creating a shared space in which you can really feel like yourself.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.