The Weight of Fragility


It’s the nights when the two of them fall asleep before me. When I follow the rhythm of his breathing, the sounds of Dasha chasing something in her sleep. That’s when I feel it, if I let myself: the weight of fragility.

Over five years ago Pat and I started dating. I had recently come off a “thing” with another guy who I now recognize as emotionally abusive. While I didn’t have the perspective then that I have now, something instinctual, something beyond me, helped move me away from that situation. I took subconscious steps to sabotage the cycle we had established. One of those steps was being open to someone new.

When we met, Pat wasn’t my type. He was a frat guy, really into football. I had just graduated from a college where guys wore tight jeans and smoked cigarettes and had absolutely no game. That was my type. But what seemed like the start of nothing, a little flirting over texts, became one of the most important relationships of my life. Over five years later and our love is beyond anything I ever imagined as a little girl. It’s so healthy, so vital, so real. We’ve seen each other’s bests and are very studied in each other’s worsts. We are true friends, we are a team. This is the kind of love you don’t see on TV. It would be boring. Our conflicts are all based in a deep respect and admiration for each other. We fight to fix, never to break.

And then, a year ago, came the dog. I didn’t think we were ready, but again some subconscious drive came over me. As much as I was the one insisting we wait, expressing all the reasons why it wasn’t the right time, I was the one who found her on PetFinder. I was the one who set up our first meeting at her foster home that rainy evening in Fishtown.

This past May marks two milestones. Four years as roommates in our tiny trinity and one year as Dasha-parents. Four years is longer than I’ve lived anywhere else aside from my house growing up. I love our trinity with its slippery steps and its funny smells. It’s cozy in the winter and cramped in the summer. Our roof leaks during heavy sudden rains and drips directly on Pat’s side of the bed (and onto his face). We have neighbors we know by name, friends made at the local dog park, and our favorite spot for Thai-takeout and Dasha’s gluten-free dog food. 

That Dasha. She farts, she snuggles, she saves little dogs from mean dogs at the dog park. With her food allergies, “How were her poops?” is a daily question. She loves dogs, cats, and squirrels, but is afraid of cows. In the morning she comes up a half hour before my alarm and throws herself under the covers. She’s peanut, puppy, pooper, butt, monkey, and sometimes Dashie. She doesn’t respond to her actual name, but will always respond to Pat’s special whistle.

Four years, one year, and then there’s six. Pat and I have been together almost six years now. When I was little, I used to drift off to sleep by imagining dramatic romantic declarations by the guy du jour. But beyond that, I didn’t really think of what I wanted in a future partner and a future life. I’ve always been much more focused on my goals and interests.

But again, that unseen force guided me here. I am so very happy, so content. Suddenly I’m 28, living in a very unique house with the family that’s perfect for me. And beyond that, everyone that I love is doing ok, some even way better than ok. I have so much gratitude, everything is so very good—that I run from it.

I distract myself with busyness. Quiet moments can only find me during restless nights. When I lie there awake, reviewing all this good, listening to it literally live right next to me, remembering the fact that this can't, won't, stay this way forever—that's when the heaviness comes. 

It's sadness, yes. But there's a sweetness to it. The feeling is my measuring stick. So as much as I avoid it, I let it be when it finds me. I let it swell and release, just like my breaths, the waves at the shore. Anticipating the loss of all of this goodness—that's how I understand just what I have. I'd argue that as important as it is to be present, it's just as important to be with your past and future self. Perspective is what fuels my gratitude. And that heaviness, that weight, is what now lulls me to sleep.

Photos were my first crack at shooting medium format.
Pentax 645N