Tuesday, January 15, 2019

WHO WILL LOVE YOU?

Days later, I was still feeling dislocated, and we were both nursing sore throats. Barack and I got into a fight—about what exactly, I can't remember. For every bit of awe we felt in Kenya, we were also tired, which led to quibbling, which led finally, for whatever reason, to rage. "I'm so angry at Barack," I wrote in my journal. "I don't think we have anything in common." My thoughts trailed off there. As a measure of my frustration, I drew a long emphatic gash across the rest of the page.

Like any newish couple, we were learning how to fight. We didn't fight often, and when we did, it was typically over petty things, a string of pent-up aggravations that surfaced usually when one or both of us got overly fatigued or stressed. But we did fight. And for better or worse, I tend to yell when I'm angry. When something sets me off, the feeling can be intensely physical, a kind of fireball running up my spine and exploding with such force that I sometimes later don't remember what I said in the moment. Barack, meanwhile, tends to remain cool and rational, his words coming in an eloquent (and therefore irritating) cascade. It's taken us time—years—to understand that this is just how each of us is built, that we are each the sum total of our respective genetic codes as well as everything installed in us by our parents and their parents before them. Over time, we have figured out how to express and overcome our irritations and occasional rage. When we fight now, it's far less dramatic, often more efficient, and always with our love for each other, no matter how strained, still in sight.