Love in the Time of Mouth Breathing

So, it seems that one of the ways that I get to live this myth is by being in love.

I get to be in love with a mortal man who has an honorable heart and makes mistakes, and then says what do you want me to do? And actually listens.

This is profound. I’ve never had this before. I’ve never been able weather the storm, and then say the vulnerable thing that I need and actually get it.

This happens in the Legend of Rhiannon. Man, does Pwyll fuck things up. Over and over. I remember early in the year, hearing Gwydion say that this was one of the things that he loves about Pwyll. That Pwyll tries, and fails and says failure is not an option, and tries again.

I want to be in love with that mortal, and it seems like I am. And I want to also to be that mortal, and it seems like I am. I am the one who knows too little, who drinks too much at the wedding feast and forgets to follow Rhiannon’s advice and gets all full of myself, all magnanimous, waving my cup of mead around and bellowing, “Drinks for everyone on me! What? It’s an open bar? Well, then, boons for everyone! I love you guys! Anything you want...”

As soon as he says that, (now we are talking about Pwyll again) Rhiannon is like “Shut up! Shut up!”

But it’s too late. The other dude, the one she doesn’t want to marry, he's there...and he’s like “Well, as long as you mentioned anythingI’ll take Rhiannon.”

(Sucks to be a woman in a patriarchy sometimes.)

And Rhiannon says to Pwyll, “You are a fool. But now you have given your word.”

“I’m sorry,” says Pwyll.. “What can I do?”

“I can fix this,” says Rhiannon. Because she is not just beautiful, she is canny. “Listen…” She says, and tells him how.

And he listens.

One of the ways that I am living this story is by being a mortal in love, by being a woman who is both beautiful and canny and also honorable and imperfect.

One of the ways that I am living this story is being in love with a mortal, a man who is both handsome and smart and is also honorable and imperfect.

But in addition to having this listening thing I haven’t actually had before, which may also come from me listening in a way I haven’t done before, there is something else.

It was this bond… it was there from the very first night, strangely strong. It made me invite him to come to Karaoke with me on our first date, which was totally bizarre behavior on my part. I mean, that was my place, not for dudes. But something told me to make an exception and we sealed that date with the magic of singing… I know that sounds corny, but I feel I have to mention it because Rhiannon’s magic is in song. Just saying.

Anyway. I was talking about this bond, this love, which was there on the first night, though I couldn’t have said so at the time. We did say so three weeks later. But it wasn’t until a month and a half in that the something else happened... It was his birthday and I was a wreck. I had worked myself into a lather about the birthday being a test, that I had to have the right gift and the right experience and show that I knew him, because I did, and also totally didn’t. I mean, six weeks?

I was a total fucking mess.

And I couldn’t say why, or even ask for what I needed. I was just walking around and mouth-breathing and drinking too much at the wedding feast and finally the moment came when he looked at me and said “What’s going on?” And I said, practically panting like a dog, “I don’t know. I’m anxious. I don’t know. I need something. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it’s something I need from you or something I need from me.”

I felt like a total idiot. In the stories, its so easy. You ask for a spell or a sword or a boat ride to the island where the elders live... Maybe you can't have it. But at least you can ask. I didn’t even know what to ask for.

And this man, who I loved by then and knew it, he cast a spell. Not a spell of creation, but a spell of naming. 

He said “Listen. This thing that is between us, its so big and so deep. We can’t live in it every second…”

Well actually, first he asked a whole bunch of well-intentioned but completely unhelpful questions like “Why?” and “Are you on your period?”

Just kidding. About the period one.

But then he turned, on the inside, toward the invisible, toward the magic. And he said those words about the thing between us. And then he put his hand on my heart and said “But it’s right here, whenever you need it.”

He looked at me. “Summon it,” he said. “Now.”

And I did. And it bloomed under his hand, in my heart, warm and bright, and I could see him feeling it, see it blooming in him, too.

"See?" he said.

There is something in the heart of this story about the love between Rhiannon and Pwyll. I don’t know if I would have seen it before this, if, say, I’d read this story at another time in my life.

But I see it now. Between them, in spite of her flawed and human mortality and the otherworldliness he owns, or in spite of her fey magic and his earthly body…In spite of all of this, from the first moment there is between them a depth that anchors them. And they trust it. This is a story of love. It is the pact between this world and that. Between what is and what will be. It is the sacred union that is the meeting of trust and you and I and need and now.

I am seeing all of this because one of the ways that I am living this story is by being in love.