When I was a kid, my parents never fought. And I thought that’s what love was. Love, to my adolescent mind, was a state of agreement. Two people locked in a world of pleasant co-habitation. It wasn’t particularly passionate. It wasn’t particularly affectionate. But it was always very nice.
As a young adult, disagreements or arguments or genuine passionate fights were the mark of trouble – a relationship with discord was a relationship in decline. Any fight with a lover, boyfriend or husband was a calamity. I had no familiarity with a world in which a fight was just a fight, no way to process that sometimes disagreement could lead to greater understanding or a broadening of horizons or a deepening of a relationship. An argument, to me, was the end.
So it is with great relief and much amusement that I enter my mid-40s reveling in the acknowledgement that, sometimes anyway, a fight between partners is just a fight. I write this after coming home from one of the more delightful dinners of the summer – close friends on a Sunday night sharing delicious food and appropriate amounts of wine. There was a gorgeous tomato tart, perfectly roasted potatoes, grilled summer zucchini with mint and feta, asparagus and salad and some pretty damn decent desserts I’d made thanks to luscious ripe peaches and bountiful figs at the farmer’s market. And there were some fights. One couple snapping at each other, the other struggling to unwind from the tension of a day spent with bickering children and in-laws. And a toast to family – our family of friends, not related by blood but bonded together by shared passions, deep respect and true delight in one another’s company.
What was so beautiful about the evening, so perfect in a way, was not the ample and amazing food, was not even the constant overlapping and lively conversation. What was perfect were the little moments of discord here and there – the freedom among partners to not pretend that everything was ok. This family, this mix of people not related by blood but bonded by affection, has enough comfort to admit to imperfection, to not pretend that everything is always nice, to respect that years together sometimes leads to tense moments that are less than ideal. And that, in its own way, the acknowledgement of the imperfection, made for a perfect night.