No matter how hard I try, no one will ever really know me, and I will never really know anyone else. That is a painful truth that I finally grokked in college. It is basic philosophy, I know, but it took a while for the weight of it to settle down on me. I explored that frustration with a friend of mine. We talked about it late into the night. In the end, we were both saddened but satisfied with the metaphor of our lives lived alone in tall towers. We had a good time imagining what the content of our towers would be. We could communicate from tower to tower by shooting notes to one another. But we could not escape alive, and we could never visit. Let's be honest though; There are catacombs in our selves that we ourselves haven't visited.
So, we are alone in our skin, operating on faith that there are even other people out there. Some part of me may have hoped that love or marriage would bridge the divide. My wife and I do smile and say "I know you." We enjoy moments of synchronicity that prove it to be true. Like many couples, we share a small non-verbal vocabulary. We have known and loved each other long enough that we are borderline telepathic. At times. But there are other times and deeper feelings into which our perceptions cannot penetrate. I know that you know what I mean. When we are alone at night with our nightmares and our dreams, nobody knows us at all. It is lonely, but it is liberating too: Our lives are our own.
The privilege of marriage, I think, is that I get to see my wife in ways and moments that no one else is privy to. If you were to ask her closest friends about her, they would tell you that she is a gifted artist, a generous friend, a devoted daughter, a creative wife, and a magnificent mother. And they would be right. What they don't know is that my wife can also be sexy, short-tempered, and wickedly funny. I still can't stand to see her cry but, I have to admit, I laugh out loud when she flips me the bird or finally shuts me up with a well timed "Fuck you." Because she rarely shares that version of herself. It's like living on the road with my favorite band; It is not a ticket into her heart and soul, but it is a backstage pass into her life. I couldn't tell you where the music comes from, but it is magic just to be there.