Orin Hahn remembers the way that his relationships changed with time, stopped and started, the pursuit more important than connection. Until he looked within to stop the division.
When I was a child my parents moved to this large apartment building in Coney Island. Every floor contained sixteen apartments arranged in clusters of four in each corner. The one directly across from us had a family with two daughters a few years older than I was.
Growing up I would hear them as they came and went what with the doors of our homes being literally a few feet from each other in a tiled hallway that echoed every sound within it. The thing I remember most was the sound and intensity of these girls and their lives, the friends coming and going, the parties, the fights, the family gatherings and celebrations.
There was such vibrancy and overwhelming sound. Considering that we were down the block from an amusement park with a roller coaster, a police station and a fire station this was no small feat.
Within my own house there was myself, my mother and my brother. My dad had lived there briefly but I never had any memory of him there. That same intensity and wave of sound that the girls made across the hall lived within my mom, different but strong nonetheless.
I was always struck by the energy of women growing up in this web. The boys and men I would encounter around me could be loud and noticeable too. Their impact though seemed to be aimed at people, most noticeable in how it landed and struck whether in words or even physically.
With the women it seemed to radiate from within and pulsate, even when silent they could send out waves making their presence felt. How they could stir the world around them so indirectly was fearsome, enrapturing and mystical all at once.
As I grew up the divisions between the sexes became more pronounced along with the expectations. The ease of hanging out with the girls was replaced with taunts from the boys and a lost phase of belonging nowhere.
There was less room to explore and understand the indirect and emotional. More calls to tone down “being a girl”, games of punch for punch and no flinching.
Time exploring girls and their ways shifted from sharing time with them to us guys discussing what we would and had done with them, and who had done the most.
With time those expectations that separated us by genders were replaced with the expectations of being able to claim one. All the magic that I admired as a child I now looked for in a partner, someone to bring that radiance and impact into my life. The pursuit began, no longer of understanding but possession.
Going after something you not only don’t understand, but see as separate, leads to a lot of heartache over time. Many instances of looking for something that remains elusive.
There’d be times when it would seem to come together, when the stirring of something deep inside, the movement that goes beyond words would come into being. And just as suddenly it could slip away leaving an ache for what it was.
With each breakup, disappointment and shattering it began to dawn, this recognition of what remains when all leaves. There was always the desire to embrace the magic, to feel, to express, to have the right to possess a heart.
This domain of woman was something valued and wanted within and greater than any person could simply just give.
I had to be willing to face the expectations of division and norms and be able to say I am that and this and whatever combination brings me joy.
I had to claim being a man, embracing my so-called female powers and forging whatever creature lives beyond the fear-based need for labels and simply exists, unapologetically and boldly.
This post originally appeared at Spirituality for the Sarcastic