Handsome is as handsome does

I’ve got to stop meeting like this, after dinner, full and somnolent. Though it’s Saturday, and by modern consensus Saturday does not operate with weekday discipline.

Anyway, I was looking over the beds in my idea garden —

Do you have an idea garden? That’s a more celebratory name for the stack of slips of paper where you’ve scribbled random ideas. Though I would encourage you to scribble them in Notes or Evernote or something digital…my experience has been that they’re harder to keep track of when they’re small and slidey. 

I like to think of my idea garden like a cutting-garden, where one grows flowers to put in arrangements. Or maybe like our kitchen garden, since we only grow herbs. (That two-year-old persistent kale doesn’t count; it’s moved from ‘food’ to ‘wildlife.’) When I haven’t spent the time to germinate a new idea, I can cut one from my garden and use it.

–and saw this thought growing there:

I found that the handsomeness of my partner has lain more in my love for their whole self: my daughter A calls it “marriage blinders.”

Hm. I’m twenty-fiveish years into my major relationship project and only now going to dig into this.Which is odd, because I first remarked it around the time I first met My Sweetie. I could have tackled this at any point. I mean, he was part of my data-set for this realization, but not the only source. I wonder why the delay? 

(Perhaps we were all waiting so that I could have something to think about tonight. File this post under “In’sh’allah” (as God wills)? Anyway.)

And about the “marriage blinders” crack. I’ve worn these ‘blinders’ outside marriage. So that part of the analogy doesn’t work. Plus, within my marriage I don’t feel as if my vision is constrained, the way blinders constrain a horse to only see what’s in front of them.

What happens is less direct and more profound.

I’m attracted by the interwoven emotions. Drawn in by the layers of shared experience. And mutual regard, to use a very old-fashioned phrase — how we look at, think of, connect with each other, simultaneously and/or in turn.

Their handsomeness lies in how their character expresses itself in an eyebrow, a corner of mouth, a gesture. The words they choose, the thoughts they share with me. In thanking me for laundry, chopping garlic, and the arc of a hip in a doorway. 

I suppose A thought of “blinders” because of the negative qualities: all the others I don’t see. But even confining it that way it’s still not quite the right analogy. I do not avoid, as a friend of mine once called it, “nice scenery.” I’m a fan of all sorts of beauty. But that’s all surface for me. I have no investment; those connections are not embodied for me. It takes more than a pretty face to draw me in with cords.

I see it embedded again in the words I choose: the handsomeness that attracts me is in-vest-ed, em-bodied. Entire. Whole.

“But in my arms till break of day

Let the living creature lie,

[…] to me

The entirely beautiful.”

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