The story of a relationship


The door is closed.

I sit on one side. You sit on the other.

We yell things at each other.

We feel okay.

Plenty going on around us, behind us.

It’s nice to hear each other’s voices once in a while. Share stories. Feel less alone.

We really don’t have energy for much else.


I leave a small gift on your windowsill.

I check back the next day.

The gift is gone, and your window is open.

Just a crack.

I leave you more small gifts.

You take them.

You say thank you.

You like my gifts! This is thrilling enough for now.


I am excited and happy, thinking of new gifts to give you.

What do you like? I don’t know much about you, really.

I think about it. I spend time and energy coming up with gifts.

They get bigger, more beautiful, more elaborate.

I just finished one I think you’ll like, a lot.

I wrap it carefully. Put my heart into it.

Your response doesn’t change.

You say thank you in the exact same way.

A hasty little nothing wrapped in a paper bag, or a carefully crafted, elaborately wrapped package… It all seems to be the same to you.

I start wondering if my gifts aren’t that good.

Maybe you don’t like them, but you’re too nice to say so.

I’ll do better. I’ll try harder. I’ll figure out what you want.


I’m getting real tired of this shit.

I decide to sulk for a while.

I quit leaving gifts.

Quit yelling through the door.

I sit and turn my back on you, on the door, still firmly closed.


I get bored.

I decide to make something.

Not a gift. Not for you. Maybe for no one.

I enjoy the process, enjoy what I’m doing. I love what I’m making. I relax.

I realize it’s a gift. A good gift, a wonderful gift.

But who will appreciate it? Who would want it?

I decide to give it to myself.


This continues for some time.

It’s good. Satisfying.

It’s quiet and I’m busy: working, making, appreciating who I am, what I can do, what I can make, what I have to give.


One day I glance out the window and feel sad.

I liked our conversations, even if we had to yell.

I liked our connection, even if it was weird and limited.

I miss it. I miss you. I miss giving you gifts.

And that’s when I see it: there, on the windowsill, a small, plain package.

A gift. For me? From you?

A gift! For me. From you.


I open it and it’s just… perfect.

It’s like you, so I love it.

My voice is hoarse after not using it for so long. Also it’s difficult to talk because I’m crying.

I stand by the window and whisper Thank you, thank you, thank you.

That’s all I can manage.

I wonder if you hear me.

I wonder how long the gift you made has been sitting there, waiting for me to notice.


The next day, another gift from you.

A little bigger. A little fancier. A bow, a ribbon, nice paper.

I am overcome by gratitude and love.

I whisper my thank you through the window.


The next day, another gift from you.

Bigger, beautiful, elaborate.

I am overwhelmed by the care, the generosity, the effort you must have put into this gift.

I look around at the gifts I’ve been making but haven’t given you.

They’re not like yours. Not like this  — not at all.

I need to make you a better gift.

Something new and perfect and good.

Something like yours!

But first - I need to clear out this space, get rid of this old stuff.

I need new materials and supplies. I need ideas and inspiration.

I’ll clean this mess up.

Then I’ll start over. I’ll get it right. Just right. It will be so good.

I get to work.

I’m so excited I forget to say thank you.


I can’t get it right.

I’ve been working and working.

I’m tired and frustrated.

I cleaned and fixed and sorted but everything is a mess again already.

No matter how much I try, I can’t make a gift like yours.

It’s no good.

All this mess around me, and nothing to show for it.

Why can’t it be easy? Why do I have to mess everything up?


I get angry. Frustrated.

I’m hurt.

Why would you do this?

Why would you demand such an impossible gift?

Why would you expect that?

Why would you make it so difficult?

Why would you ask this of me?

Then I take a deep breath and I realize: you didn’t.


I sit down under the window.

I cry and cry and cry.

And I begin to understand.


I look at the messes I’ve made. The silliness.

The stuff, the shit, the half-done projects, the unfinished ideas, the broken pieces, the evidence of all of it, everywhere.

This is what I have to work with.

This is what I have to give.

This is all I have.

I’m done trying to make it different or better.


The next day I place a small, plain package on the windowsill.

I turn my back on the mess, all the mess.

I go to the door,

And I open the door,

And I feel the sunshine and wind on my face.

I close my eyes, sit on the step, and think: This is a good place to be.


When I open my eyes, there you are.

Sitting in your open doorway.

“Got your gift,” you say. “Thanks.”

“Did you like it?” I ask.

“I loved all your gifts,” you say. “But this one - ”

You hold up the tiny cardboard box. It’s battered and old and has marks on it. There’s no ribbon. No wrapping. All it held was a shiny rock I found and liked.

“ - this one is my absolute favorite,” you say, and you smile.

We sit in the sun together.

We say: This is a good place to be.

And it is.