The first day of June 2011 found me completely in love with humanity. I spent the better part of Wednesday in the stacks (dissertating = carting home lots and lots of books). Then I picked up our first bag of CSA vegetables (mixed greens. spinach. parsley. some delicious smelling herb that I can’t identify. radishes. asparagus. all local and organic.). The worst/best part is that our CSA pick-up is at a small, local bakery (in which the smell is unfathomably great), which happens to share an entrance with a small, local, organic/fair trade chocolatier. Be still my heart. [Clearly, I say “best” because of the smell and the proximity to deliciousness and “worst” because I suspect this will mean that our veggie intake this summer will be tempered with warm, floury, sugary goodness and perfectly crafted (and ethical) chocolate. So be it.]
Because J isn’t into chocolate right now (so strange, but hormones do strange things), I bought her a white chocolate truffle filled with blueberry jam. They also carried local cards, so I found one with a beautiful butterfly, and I sat in that delicious-smelling shop, at a small table by a window, writing to my brave, gorgeous, pregnant wife. It was a lovely moment.
I left with the card, the truffle, and a bag full of produce feeling as open to the world as I’ve felt since E left my body. I was the kind of open in which one can – with total sincerity – sing along to the lyrics of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and think – with total sincerity – “wow; I understand these lyrics so much better than I used to; I really get what she’s saying now; it’s all about the ebb and flow of long-term relationships!” I was the kind of open in which one finds oneself – while pumping gas on a hot afternoon – feeling unfettered love for every other patron at the gas station: for a woman with her daughter and their puppy, for a man heading in to pre-pay. I’m saying: OPEN.
And then THIS happened: We had a triple date last night at a little restaurant in a town near Lake Michigan with four friends: a married couple who live near us and another couple who live in Connecticut (our friend L having recently moved there to be with her boyfriend after years making it work long distance). After a wonderful dinner together, L and B (the couple from Connecticut) headed to the beach for a date with the sunset (they’d spent several days with L’s family and needed a little alone time), and J and I decided to head there ourselves, thinking we could avoid them (give them some privacy) while enjoying the sunset ourselves. On the way to the beach, though, it occurred to me: B is going to propose! J humored me as I imagined the circumstances, but she pointed out frequently that I might wrong. And then I wasn’t! When we got there and realized we could see them, we headed away quickly so as not to invade, but they called us over to announce their engagement. Their engagement! It was SUCH A PRIVILEGE to be present mere moments after something so sacred.
In the instant they told us, I felt anew what a blessing and a comfort marriage is. Our young marriage has seen some of the best of what life has to offer, and some of the worst. Staying open to one another, pulling together instead of apart, being a team in times of trauma, loving when loving feels impossible has been so difficult sometimes. But the sense of safety our marriage brings, the sense of not.being.alone in the dark, the sense of partnership, is like nothing I could have imagined.
B waited to propose until this vacation so that he could do so at L’s favorite beach, a place she’s frequented since childhood. Her engagement ring is exactly her: timeless, delicate, simple, stunning. They know each other so well, respect each other, consider each other. I often say that J and I work to surround ourselves with strong marriages, marriages from which we can learn, and it will be such an honor to add B and L’s marriage to this list. LOVE. It’s so worth doing well.