Monday, March 19, 2012

Loving Durham Means Giving Her Space for Change

The street was packed with people enjoying the Marry Durham vow renewal service on Saturday, March 17

“Has she been good to you? Has she treated you right?” I asked the crowd while performing the renewal vows for Marry Durham. “Durham’s not the same this year. She lost some weight. She took some self improvement courses.”

The vows we took in getting hitched to the city reminded me of the commitment we make to tie the knock. We say tell death does us part or the other person does something stupid. The hardest part of any relationship is dealing with the changes. Many regard it as a bad thing. All those changes alter the original deal. “You’re not the same as you were when I made those promises,” many say just before slamming the door.

I’d rather think of change as the good part of the relationship. As much as I love Connie for all the good stuff she brings to our relationship, I’ve been drawn to her moody ways and propensity to change her mind devoid of warning. Every day is a challenge because you have to strap on your seat belts and prepare to take a fast ride headed down a road you have never been down before.

Like I said, that’s not a criticism; it’s what I like most about being in a relationship. I get bored with doing the same thing the same way every freaking day. My mind desires exposure to fresh and new things. The flip side to all of that is my desire to be in a relationship that both respects and honors my need to explore this vast world created for our pleasure. It helps having a partner who gets what it means to change for no other reason than being moved in that direction.

Being married to Durham requires a willingness to allow her to explore what it means to consider new things. Durham was tired of her old downtown wardrobe. She needed new outfits to express her evolving personality. She stripped herself of those 1950 ways and stepped into a culture more fitting of what was locked inside all those years. She was waiting to come out, but the gatekeepers kept her from blossoming into what she has become today.

Durham needed to be set free. Change had to happen. It meant hanging out with a new crowd. Folks from the outside enticed her into considering a more youthful presentation. It seemed to happen overnight, but Durham’s fascination with change was budding for years. She simply needed support. Her self-esteem was impeded by mean words printed in the papers. People from other communities labeled her a misfit. A columnist at the Greensboro News & Record called her the state’s black sheep. Those words hurt deep.

It began with a few whispers. “You fine girl,” a few dudes at Greenfire Development told her. “Come over here and let me treat you the way you deserve.”

They spent a few dollars on her. They introduced her to others. Soon, she became the talk of the nation. People from the New York Times dropped in to say hello. They were so impressed they couldn’t stop talking about her. It’s the place to be if you like to eat. It’s the place to be if you love live music. Others followed. The publication called the Beast took notice and labeled her the most tolerant city in the nation.

All that change has not altered her personality. She remains open to allowing others to mold her into becoming even more lovable. She’s receptive to even more change. Watching her bloom has been a site to behold. We have to grant her more space to flourish. We can’t keep her trapped into what we think she should be.

Yes, Durham, I love you more today than I did this time last year. You’re not the same, but I love what you are becoming more than I embrace what you were before. I vow to grant you the support you need to become the best you possibly can. I will not restrict you to my thoughts related to what you shall be.

I will defend your honor, my love. I will fight off all who attempt to take you back to a place that lessened your truth worth. I’m here to support you. I will grant you the flexibility to allow others to love you. I’m not a jealous lover. I’m open to your hanging out with your friends. I will not attack you if it seems you are giving them more attention than you give me. I trust you with our love.

There’s enough of you to go around. I recognize your need for diversity. There is too much in you to limit yourself to what I bring to this relationship. I recognize the worth of our bond, and accept how others bring something I can’t give.

I love you Durham. You have changed. I can’t wait to see how change will impact both of us over the coming years.

Now, kiss me.

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