10 August, 2015. Late morning, inspiration.
The month of August here at Project:Women is dedicated to “Travels, Adventures, and Time for Self”. This story wasn’t the one I was planning to write. Not at all… but sometimes you just have to go with the flow of the mysterious muse and let it happen.
This morning I read a beautiful post that Jamie B. wrote in honor of the wedding anniversary of my husband and I, and it inspired me so deeply that I sat down to write. Those are the moments we dream of, as writers. For the words to just flow out, naturally and quickly. Ha, come to think of it, it’s rather like birthing a baby. You desire for it to be quick and pain-free, but often it isn’t. Often it is a labor of love (and of course childbirth is literally that!) But no matter how easily or not-so-easily those words may come out, it is yet another kind of challenge to share them. To share the words of the heart is to expose your own soul, in a way. But that’s part of why we live, and love, and try and do… to expose ourselves to life. The beauty, the pain, the loveliness and mess of it all.
Yesterday marked 6 years of marriage for my husband and I. It’s a funny thing that happens when your anniversary comes around, something that just sneaks up on you in the loveliest way. It’s this intense feeling of thankfulness and gratitude, awe and amazement, at the love that has grown through the relationship you’ve built together.
Last month I spent several weeks attempting to write a story about how my husband and I came together, our story of love and marriage. I must have started with at least 5 different versions, and edited each one twenty times. The story kept growing in all different directions, and I found it nearly impossible to stop writing. I was determined to finish the piece before the end of the month, and wrote a little bit every day for the last week. But by 11:30pm on the last day of July, I still didn’t have it completed. I finally realized that I had to let it be, and maybe come back to it again another time.
I think that when we attempt to write about something so dear to our hearts, it can be immensely challenging. How does one convey, truly convey, all that encapsulates the “true love” of a relationship, using nothing more than the English language? It isn’t enough. Language, words, they aren’t enough. The love between two people is so much more than that. It is a feeling, a scent, the pulse of your heart.. it is fear and warmth and excitement, daring, adventure, unknown, it is climbing to the top of a mountain and diving into the depths of the ocean. It is caring and tenderness, patience and thoughtfulness, compromise and balance. It is all of those things.
And it is this…
The day we were married under that old oak tree in the park, just the two of us and our youthful love. Kissing our “first kiss” beneath the outstretched tree limbs as the soccer players in the field next to us cheered us on. Then running like children down to the ocean and jumping in with nothing more than our undergarments and zest for life, laughing until our faces hurt, embracing one another until the end of time.
And then me wanting to travel the world for a year, and you thinking that was a crazy idea, and then after so much discussion we finally agreed to go on a two-week trip. A compromise. And we went to Peru, and rode in a dugout canoe down the Amazon river, and saw those children playing along the shoreline and they waved to us with the most innocent faces, pure and bright. And we stayed in the jungle and I got eaten by bugs and you got bit by that monkey but it was all okay because we couldn’t stop smiling, not even for a minute, because it was all so amazing, so surreal, so incredible. And we drank ayahuasca and saw ourselves in a totally new way, a new life revealed.
And then we kissed and hugged and continued our adventure, on to Machu Picchu, a place that we had only dreamed of but was now there, real, before us. And we stood in awe, hands clasped together, hearts beating like drums. And we spent the entire day there, remember? We didn’t follow the tour guides or stay with the group, instead we wandered off on our own. And we found that grassy spot way off to the side where nobody else was, and we took off our shoes and sat on the edge of that great, magnificent, ancient place and stared out across the mountains and sky. And we just sat there, in the sunshine, suspended in time together, soaking in the beauty of life.
And finally it was sundown, and the park was closing and they had to ask us to leave because we weren’t ready to go yet. And we stayed just a moment longer, as the sun began to dip behind the verdant rocky horizon. And maybe we talked the whole way down, or maybe we didn’t. Maybe we just sat in the train together, side-by-side, quiet and in disbelief of the day we had just experienced. And then, suddenly, it was our last day in Cuzco. And we lay side-by-side in that tiny bed, in that freezing cold room that overlooked the busy street below, and I told you it was time. I was finally ready for it. Finally ready to open our lives to a totally new possibility.
“Let’s make a baby!!” And you smiled, laughed, jumped up with excitement, squeezed me so hard, and said “yes!!!!” And it was one of the best moments of my life. Knowing that we both wanted it, and not feeling an ounce of doubt.
And then, before we even knew it, our entire lives changed again, like a flower in bloom, exploding with color and vibrancy and joy for being alive.
It didn’t happen right away, of course. And we got sad at the end of that first month, because we were so ready. But then, two months later there she was. A tiny little dot, a seed of love, there within my womb.
And then, finally, in January we saw her for the first time. All in black-and-white on that small screen in that small room, and she had the tiniest arms and tiniest legs, and she bounced, and she waved! Do you remember that, my love? Do you remember how much we cried? Do you remember what that felt like? Even now I am crying, because the memory of such a beautiful moment is so profound in my heart. There was never a feeling like it before. It was as though every beautiful thing that ever existed was in that room at that moment. And we went home that day with the first pictures of our daughter, our Elena. And all spring and summer we floated through life on a cloud, waiting for her to arrive. But really it wasn’t waiting, because she was with us already. We were a family, already. We were just waiting to meet her. And then, one afternoon it happened. We went swimming early that morning and I was tired, so tired. And I told you I was more tired than usual, and you walked back home with me slowly, gently, holding my hand as I waddled beside you. And that afternoon, the flood came.
And again, again our life was changing! And do you remember how I ran to the bathroom and cried? Because I had been so brave, so fearless throughout those 9 months, but my wall was breaking down with this flood of waters from my body, with the knowledge that it was going to happen now. And you laughed, you laughed so much! And then I began to laugh through my tears, because there was no reason to be afraid of anything. And I knew that because of you.
Because even if my walls broke down, you were there to build them back up again.
And then we drove to the birthing center, and I got in the tub of water as you held on to my hands, just as you had that morning, just as you had our entire lives together. And I could know no fear. And then the storm of energy, the most intense energy of all the world and of all existence, came through my body.
And then, she was here.
In my arms, looking up at us both, perfect, whole, breathing, alive. And so beautiful. That night I didn’t sleep, not even for a moment. I wasn’t tired at all, I was too excited, my body too full of love for this new human being that was one part of you, and one part of me. She slept as an angel, nestled in between us, and you cradled her in your arm as you slept beside her. I watched you both, sleeping there, for hours. I could not take my eyes away from you both. The two loves of my life.
And that was the beginning of our new life together. That first year with our daughter was another kind of heaven. Our feet never touched the ground, I think. We all floated together on that cloud, in our own version of reality. Every breath, every smile, every sound she made sent our hearts up into the skies. Every cry, every pain, every moment of discomfort she felt only brought us in closer, to hold, caress, sooth and kiss. She was our hearts, combined as one, outside of our own bodies. As she is to this day.
That is love.
That is our love.
No matter how hard I try, I will probably never be able to complete the story I began. Because there will always be something new to add to it. As our life grows together, so our story changes. And of course it isn’t only a happy story, there have been struggles and pain, misunderstandings and disagreements. We have argued and been angry at one another, we have each felt hurt by the others’ actions at one point. But the strength and power of love has always taken precedent. It has always overcome even our lowest moments.
Our love is like a cloth that we have woven together, and it is made of yarns that are so strong that when woven they are unbreakable. This cloth will be with us throughout our entire lives, and it will grow. When we are old and grey, when we have no strength to weave any more, we will be able to wrap ourselves up in this immense blanket of love that we have made together during our life. And when the day comes that we must depart from this earth that we have occupied such a small part of together, we will reside as one in each other’s hearts. And our blanket of love will live on for our children’s grandchildren, and beyond.
Forever I love you, forever and always.
PS. Let’s never stop discovering the world together.
Image at top: personal photo- the hands of me and my husband, on a stone wall at Machu Picchu, Peru, 2012.
Image above: My husband and I (with pregnant belly) on “our” beach, sunrise one lovely day. Miami Beach, 2013.