. . . It’s Complicated

Amy was having trouble encapsulating her love for Jay, her (unmarried) partner of almost 11 years, in one phrase. So she chose to express it as “it’s complicated.”  A lot of people often think she and Jay have a perfect relationship, but for Amy it’s just not that simple. She told me that over the years people have come to her looking for advice on how to make a relationship work. She says she honestly doesn’t know and has difficulty articulating any sort of “advice” — other than tried and true concepts like respect and tolerance of differences.

Part of the inspiration for this image was the Arlo Guthrie song “Alice’s Restaurant” where the bored cops in a small town arrest Arlo for littering. And they make “twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one” in order to prosecute him. Well this is clearly making things complicated and Amy wanted to echo that feeling in this image.

Another point of inspiration was that when she set up her Facebook profile, she chose to use the “It’s complicated” setting to describe her relationship status.  This sparked several conversations with people, as generally this implies something negative and/or unstable.  Amy felt that this was just closer to the truth.  In fact, part of what makes their relationship work is that they allow it to be complicated, and not just simplify themselves or their relationship into traditional roles.

I understood what she was expressing but it didn’t all click for me until she was almost done creating her collage. I looked at all the ribbons connecting the various words and pictures and suddenly realized how interconnected everything was: jealously, trust, lust, communication and all the other words she put up there. For Amy to tease it apart would be impossible. It was better for her to settle on “it’s complicated.”

One of the things I will certainly take away from this experience is that Amy wasn’t looking for a life partner at 21, yet somehow that’s just what happened. Love just found her and it hasn’t always been easy. I honestly have no frame of reference for what it is like to be in a relationship for more than ten years. I can only imagine that it is, indeed, complicated. But Amy & Jay are still together and happy a decade after they met, making it work despite, or maybe because of, the complications.