What Spring Does To The Cherry Trees
illustration by Minnie Hau & words by Lauren Dundler
“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”
― Pablo Neruda
Human beings are delightfully diverse. Whilst we may consist of the same basic matter - skin, blood, bones, hair of varying amounts - we differ so significantly from individual to individual due to the range of our experiences, cognitions, memories, contexts and appetites. Our innate desire to adapt and evolve as individuals and communities result in a diverse offering of personalities, even if our desires are shared.
It is no surprise then that the combination of two humans into a partnership causes an even greater amount of variation to occur. Human relationships are incredibly unique, unpredictable and are usually filled with rich emotional experiences.
We go through life witnessing countless different types of relationships - those who are generous in their affection in public; others whom are fiercely independent and are never seen together. We see relationships that have fallen apart and relationships that are repaired despite all expectations otherwise. We see relationships with significant age differences and we see those who manage to remain mentally close despite physical distances of thousands of kilometres. We see those who are united by many common interests and others who appear to be strangely different to one another, attracted together for reasons unknown.
Over time and experience our approach to relationships can alter - sometimes developing into a healthier expression of love and passion, and in other occasions these experiences can warp and taint our perceptions. Due to our incredible diversity as humans, when we try to unify with another individual there are countless problems, concerns and moments of sorrow intermingled with the most exquisite joy. Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said that "nothing in this world is more difficult than love" and whilst some of the formulas I was exposed to when studying Maths and Physics made me cry with frustration, none were able to cause the same visceral reaction that love can.
We are undeniably surrounded by these unique human couplings from a young age and our parents, relatives and friends inform the way we operate in relationships through exposure to arguments, affection and compromise. When I met my partner, in a whirlwind of ecstasy, confusion and wonder, I found myself trying to understand the sort of relationship and partnership he was proposing we could have. My inexperience made it almost impossible to imagine how we could transition from strangers with an intense mutual attraction - and shared love of avocados and literature - to partners who share their lives together.
It wasn't until someone presented me with an image of two mountains that I was able to understand.
Two mountains stand side by side, their foundations touching and moulded together, forming a valley. In order for this shared valley to have the right conditions to thrive, both mountains need to be strong and healthy in their own right. If one mountain lacked the strength to sustain itself and uphold an independent life and therefore was wholly reliant on the support of the other structure, the valley would be crushed beneath the weight of this burden.
When I understood this image, I realised the potential my partner and I had to share this experience together. We could share a relationship of equality, strength and success, both individual and collective. Whilst I did not understand or foster this sort of relationship in the early months of our time together, my changed perception allowed me to ease the sense of disequilibrium that I had been struggling with.
However, understanding what one wants and achieving it is not a simple process. Being independent in isolation from others is a perfectly attainable existential state. But, balancing the needs, desires, wants, and emotive emissions of two independent identities is rarely uncomplicated - almost comparable to an elaborate dance filled with moments of studied technique interspersed with spontaneous flailing limbs.
For the past two years, two fiercely independent people have managed to navigate the arguments, affection and compromises that are ubiquitous to human relationships. In this time, I have not lost my sense of selfhood and individuality - I have fostered it. We have both experienced growth - professional, mental, educational, emotional - as individuals and as a couple.
It is on this day, our anniversary, and every day that we are together that I am reminded of how fortunate I am to be in this relationship with an incredibly generous, clever and vibrant man, strikingly different to any other human being I have ever encountered.
It is on this day that I want to say to him - with the assistance of Pablo Neruda - that "I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees."