Becoming Us: Taking Away the Space Between You and Me.
At first, it was you and me.
Me looking at clouds, reading books and daydreaming of a life that was round and soft and comfortable. You looking at a computer with numbers that were solid, concrete and linear, and imagining a future that moved in a similar straight manner.
I wanted curves and loops and hopes, and you wanted lines and graphs and outcomes.
I didn’t want an us. I wanted you and me with enough space in between to fit three letters and two spaces. The spaces to keep me safe and distant and dreamy, and the three letters of and to keep me just close enough to you and just far enough away from me.
An us felt too small and precarious and unstable. It was close and intimate, two letters snuggled right up against each other. How would I breathe? What was so comfortable about fitting two great people with big ideas and full lives in two small letters?
It seemed like the u would never hold all the joy and pain, the laughter and tears, the adventures and misadventures of an us. It was bound to break, to tip over, or to spill out from the bottom, and to make the us fall apart — suddenly or slowly. The s just seemed like half of infinity standing up straight and tall. A foreboding sign teasing and ridiculing any us that wanted to last forever.
When I saw uncertainty and doubt, you saw potential and promise. You saw an us that was flexible and resilient. That could move with ease, navigating the world and the words and the doubts and the fears with a sense of wonder and exploration.
I saw an us that was suffocating and fragile and bound to get lost — on a blank page, in a small crack, or floating up into a space where the you and the me ceased to exist and my clouds and your lines intersected and tangled and eventually vanished. I kept my me and you kept your you and I splashed and played in the and and the the space surrounding the and.
But slowly you took that space away.
The you moved closer to the me and there wasn’t much need for the space or the and. You stripped away the hesitation between you and me and showed me a you that was fine and funny and full of feeling. You showed me a you that could daydream and frolic and find shapes in clouds that weren’t just numbers and facts and figures. And you showed me a you that was confident but scared, excited but apprehensive.
You took me inside, led me through to the tail of the y and the comfort in the o and the depths of the u. You let me take refuge inside of you. And while I thought we were exploring you, you were showing me a me that was hearty and healthy and happy.
You guided me over the humps and the bumps and the curves of the m and I taught you how to slide down the e, dangle over the edge, and let yourself be swallowed in its mouth, much smaller than your o but more with sides and arches to discover.
And then you introduced me to an us that could carry the weight of a you and me.
You showed me strength of the u. How to fill it up, with love or fear or excitement. At first I tried to tip over the u, to make it wobble or leak or break, but it absorbed the strength of the you and me and it would not budge. It filled and emptied and filled, but there was always room for more. It cozied up against an s that had blind spots and big curves and a lot of ups and downs.
But the s didn’t fall or mock me or tease me. It didn’t pretend to be infinity or even half of infinity.
It was an s that was happy wedged up close to a u. I found the spaces in us that weren’t quite as big as that in between the you and me, but that were there none the less.
I didn’t have to hide in the us. Instead I could stretch out my arms and my legs and know that you would be near enough to give me space and I would be far enough to feel the stillness.
I shared my me and you gave me your you and we became us.
We became an us that had lines and edges and soft corners and overlap and space. We became an us that navigated the clouds, that sailed through blank pages, that wrote our own story.
I kept my me and you kept your you and we shared them in our us that no longer felt strange or unstable, but felt natural and strong and filled with two great people who breathed together and breathed apart but shared the same air.
Henna Garrison is a word curator with an appetite for all things written, edible or adventurous. She lives in Sicily, where her favorite pastimes include eavesdropping and eating cassata. She is currently the program director at Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School. Check out her words and work at her website.