As a child I lived life on the inside looking out, shut in my room, lost in a book; peering into windows of houses lit up at night, strangers’ lives illuminated. I pictured my unformed self within those lamp-lit circles, dreaming of a future unlike the present, where life was messy with relationships. Inside looking out I dreamed of Mozart mornings, Chopin in the afternoon, serene bedrooms with unrumpled beds and deep dreamless sleep, undisturbed.
At seventeen I craved adventure, risk, and danger, but only at a distance, vicariously experienced through friends and film. Insufficient in myself I searched for missing pieces of the puzzle that was me. A year later I met you with your Rhett Butler swagger and renegade’s attitude. Dizzy with beer and drunk on life’s promises I found myself swept off a barstool and into your Triumph (what a classy car to drive into the future!). How our jigsaw edges, jagged and raw, fit together; negative, positive, introvert, extrovert, calm, explosive, dreamer, doer.
Oh, the thresholds we’ve crossed since then, exploring one another’s bodies and souls, most intimate of acts committed not in bedroom’s candle glow, but in birthing rooms, my body opened wide to bear our sons (arrows shot into the future that’s become today); in heavy-scented funeral homes where we learned the meaning of fatherlessness; at the bedside of your dying mother where we imbibed the knowledge that death is not the enemy after all; in therapy offices where we stripped down to bare bone, risking rejection, and discovered instead acceptance; in worship where we found the freedom to raise our hands to a loving God who knows us better than we know ourselves; in a 31 year walk with a son who has taught us daily that God’s power is made perfect in weakness.
I contemplate all the places we’ve lived, loved, fought and forgiven; Georgia Court, Shandon, Brompton and Burnham, Carini, and for the last six years this place we call Cloudland. We tremble together at where we stand today, a point of departure, three sons who’ve flown the nest; a contemplative retreat center poised for flight.
I marvel at the ways I’ve grown in your presence. No longer a voyeur of life I am a participant; a wise woman who chooses to travel alongside a man who, born in another time, would have forged wilderness trails. With you I’ve discovered boredom and fear sometimes pose as peace and security; that risk is what real life requires.
I still love Mozart mornings and Chopin in the afternoon, but you’ve taught me bedclothes are meant to be rumpled and lives are meant to be lived, not peered at with noses pressed to windows or dreamed of over open books. Life is gloriously messy – like gourmet evenings at home; artichokes, pasta, mushrooms and wine. And at the end, dirty dishes, the price to be paid for the exquisite pleasure of what comes before.
10-28-16: Happy 44th anniversary to Wally, the love of my life! I will never forget Paris!