Not intrusive at all! (At least, not in my opinion.) Poetry is so subjective anyway — sometimes crystal clear, but other times more subject to the reader’s interpretation, which, of course is shaped by their own unique experiences and worldview.

When I think of ‘loyalty,’ marriage is, without a doubt, the first concept that comes to mind. I’ve been married for 20 years, together with my spouse for 23. We have 3 kids. We’ve been through a lot together, not always pretty or convenient.

Regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual/romantic orientation, I think a lot of people tend to have unrealistic expectations for love relationships — and moreover, marriage or long-term commitments. A committed marriage, in the (perhaps old-fashioned) traditional sense of being faithful with one partner at a time, is hard work. At least at times. But I think more often than not. Or maybe more often than people would like to admit.

People are flawed; there is no perfect person. My husband and I are soulmates, but we’re also both equally headstrong and stubborn. We both entered this relationship 23 years ago with our own sets of accumulated emotional baggage. We’ve been through tremendous peaks and valleys, just like anyone else.

We’ve had the extreme highs that come equally with lust and love. We’ve experienced both life-transforming celebrations, and smaller, quietly happy moments. We’ve been tested time and time again with devastating losses, immense physical setbacks, dire financial hardships, and just the regular, everyday “stuff” of life — just like anyone else. We’ve been through some events where others have said to us, “I don’t know how your marriage survived this.”

But the point is, because we both entered this relationship 23 years ago with eyes wide open and equal emotional commitment (strong roots), we’re still here today. At the same time, 23 years ago, our outlook on life was certainly more “rosy.” When you’re in your early 20s, you can’t possibly fathom the amount of curveballs life will throw at you over the next several decades. It’s not all “happily ever after.” That rosy outlook becomes tested and shaped by unimaginable forces, often, strong enough to drive two intertwined souls away from each other. (And certainly, there are plentiful reasons beyond our control that totally warrant leaving — for one, I don’t recommend anyone try and “stick it out” in a physically or emotionally abusive situation.)

But over time, that rosy, hopeful, excited outlook turns into more of a steely grit, a determination. You have to have the “grit” to stay at anything long enough to be considered “loyal” to that thing, in my humble opinion.

So for me, the imagery of a marriage that works is not about two people sailing off into the sunset, living a life of “happily ever after.” It’s more the unexpected imagery of a flower growing where you’d least expect to see it — seemingly emerging from impenetrable surfaces. A random daisy shooting up from a tiny sidewalk crack. Chamomile creeping from somewhere within a concrete jungle.

It’s the imagery of that flower which, against all odds, somehow found its way. It’s that unlikely blossom which personifies hope, and strength, and endurance, and tenacity, and will; the will to simply exist. Regardless of the current conditions. Regardless of external factors. Regardless of the odds.

Foundations — even solid ones — are prone to cracks when tempered with enough time, force, and natural elements — much like the human body itself. It’s what grows from those cracks, persisting, surviving all else, that gets the distinction of being called “loyal.”

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Seen in HuffPost, Scary Mommy, etc; heard @ NPR, SiriusXM, TIFO podcast & more. Gender dismantling trailblazer. Political news junkie. TikTok aficionado. Mom.

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