Thursday, July 16, 2015

A bad romance

My Dearest,

I don't know where to start, exactly. But I just feel like we need to look at our relationship. There, I said it. I know, it was tough for us from the get go and looking back I wonder how we made it this far. And I wonder sometimes what my life would have been like if we had never gotten together at all. I know you've thought about it before too. You've actually said as much. But in spite of our many differences, we always seem to pull it out, especially when we really need each other.

Broken Heart image courtesy
I remember when we were young and full of life and energy and wanting to try new things together. Sure, we had our disagreements but it was so easy to just, well, look the other way, I guess. At the time I thought we had accepted each other for who we were but it’s hard to see it that way now and not believe we simply ignored those differences thinking the other one would change. I know you never really understood my urban and more industrial ways and looking back, while I viewed your philosophy of a simple agrarian life with romantic eyes, I later could not deny how I had simply ignored your use of slaves to make that all work. I know I tried to change you, and really couldn't. After our separation and everything that happened after that I thought we could go on. We no longer had to make compromises that ignored the core issues and I really thought it would work. Because, and you have to admit it, it did work and we did great things together. We built the world's largest economy, invented lots of really cool new technologies, we destroyed the notion of oppressive, dictatorial leadership as a viable model, and spread our concepts of democracy around the planet. We even sent humans to the moon and brought them back. Others looked to us as role models. And even though they don't admit it now, they are better for it.

And as good as it all was I now see we were really mostly focused on our careers and raising the kids. I thought this whole time we were growing together, in union. But now I'm not so sure. Now I see that it was really me trying to force you to change and that, well, it seems you were never really up for it. Somehow you went along with it. Maybe you just went along with it because you believed we were still right for each other too. But now all those times you'd joke about the "the south will rise again" I thought it was just playful teasing. Now, I see it that, well, you were serious, weren't you?

It really hurts me to think that all these years you saw yourself as an individual first and as part of our union second. And all this time I saw us as a union first and individuals second. I never wanted you to give up who you were, at heart, nor did I want to give up on who I've always been, but what happened to "united we stand?" Do we no longer believe that anymore?

I'm really confused by all this and I worry the pain we've caused each other over the years can't be reconciled. I don't want to separate like we did back in the 1860's. That was far too painful. But I don't want to keep on like this either. I don't like that we sleep in separate rooms or spend most of our alone time with our friends complaining about our union.  And I just have to say, we used to have great sex together. It was really amazing. But when was the last time we even had sex? In the 1990s? But looking back I think you were just going along with it. It may have been the late 1950s when we last really had great sex together. That's along time, even for an aging country like us. What happened?

Oh, South, I don't know why I am writing this. I still love you and want this to work out. At least I think I do. I do love your gentle ways and the slower pace of life you tell me about. I love your sunny beaches and the gentle rolling mountains. I've grown to love your okra and I even love bluegrass music. Yeah, I know I used to complain about it but I've grown to really enjoy it. And I know I must come off as a nag sometimes and you feel like I'm always telling you what to do, and how to spend or save your money, and I know you don't understand why I go to different churches now, but it is where I feel comfortable. So I feel like sometimes you nag me about that too. But, I don't want to start that argument again.

And I also know you really, really like your gun collection. You don't need to tell me again. I get it! And you must know how nervous it makes me having them around the house - how many times have I told you so?  But I've backed off lately, haven't I? I mean, let's be honest: I haven't tried anything to make you sell your collection, or even lock them up in the basement so the kids won't get them, have I? But you keep arguing with me about it as if I am. I wish you'd just relax for once about that.

And I know I'm not perfect either. I know I have crime in my cities and not all my people are happy. I know you don't like some of my free-spirit friends I hang out with. Okay, I'll admit, maybe some of them are a little too free-sprited, but mostly I just feel good when I'm with them. And I know I'm not in as good of shape as I used to be and some parts have become run down and neglected. I've been trying to get back into shape, but its hard. I've asked if I can join the new gym, but you keep saying we don't have the money for it. And the whole racial divide we thought we'd gotten past in the 1960's, well, turns out it's still here for you and me. We've ignored it like we ignored a lot of things and now look what's happening. I know you hate it when I suggest it, but I really think couples therapy could help us. If you agree, I promise I won't mention the flag you seem to like so much. But you have to know how much it reminds me of our separation and sometimes when I see it, it just makes me cry.

I didn't want to end this note to you like that. But I just had to get those things off my chest. I want to think about the positive. I want to put positive energy out to the universe about us. Think about us the way it used to be when we are together, laughing. When we'd be out and about the other countries would see us with our purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain and they'd want to be just like us. I want to be like that again.

How do we work together to fix it?


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