There are some days when love shows up at your front door with open arms.There are days where conversations have less miles between each word. My husband and I, like children, soaked up love sitting across the table from my parents, our parents. Our three boys were swirls of joy, in and out of arms and smiles. Time passed as early morning spilled into dusk, the darkening skies wrapped with a few tears and goodbyes.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
We quarrel in beautiful couplets, sit
beside each other touching our fears
against our tongues. There was a time,
not long ago, we reasoned in a hush,
held our breaths for days, impassioned
collision, let the silence fall
from our mouths as careless flicker.
To find our stride, our turning over,
we learned to listen without wither,
every crevice, every breath, every kind
kind word between us, an opus.
photo credit: morguefile
“Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.”—James Thurber
Love is an ongoing conversation, like spring, a perennial stance. We go through love. We move through it, like daylight rippling across the surface of water, like splitting wood opening one fine splinter at a time. We stumble through love with ourselves, with someone else, as graceful as roots lengthening beneath winter soil, stretching beyond the soft ground, blooming still.
photo credit: morguefile
That sleepy baby lying across his father’s lap is a soft pod, warm in elbow bend. His tiny fingers barely curl around his father’s worn knuckles, cup his stubble chin, press thumb against kiss.
There are men that father, breathe in deliberate moments of time with the child or children in their lives. Sign a wisdom with deep voices, burly echoes as acts of love and parenting, raise that child, those children with their hands and their hearts.
After a bit of reading, re-reading, writing, I offer up words and wonder from the past week. I hope your Sunday is unfolding beautifully. Enjoy.
When it comes to you (link)
Good morning Chicago (link)
Orange and Blue (link)
In Love (link)
To be in love is to touch with a lighter hand. In yourself you stretch, you are well.—Gwendolyn Brooks
To be in love is to clasp a hand, to hold tightly, feel the grip dimple your skin, warm the inner most cusp of your hand, that dark middle, crossed with etchings, marked and worn. To be in love is to open that cusp, the soft round of your hand, to someone else, and hold on. ―dce
Love’s tongue is on fire. One foot
out the bedroom door, one ear pressed
against sharp words lost in fault, in strike,
confused by the clutter of crisp interruptions,
awkward run-on sentences, clashing blue.
Like a relationship, in literature, poetry, writing, there are days of tension, short blustery fuses of words and stance, two characters, objects, settings teetering toward resolve, the rush of water and sand against the backs of stones.
The other day in a creative writing class of high school juniors and seniors, we talked about literary tension and how sometimes when we write we want to color tension as riddled only with angst and fury. We went further to discuss how tension can color essay, narrative, lyric, be interesting and beautiful, push and pull words, rhythm, sound, and line, be so much more than a fight.
Where do you find, create, tension in your writing, art, photography?
As if you haven’t had ample doses of love these past few days, here’s another peek at a week’s worth of “found” love, slightly remixed and re-imagined. Enjoy your Sunday!
Brotherly Love (link)
(Good) Love (link)
(Sweet) Love (link)
This morning I woke up to the baby singing his nonsensical, yet somehow beautifully harmonious song in the other room. I turned to look at the clock and could not believe how late we all slept (says one who typically gets up at 5am). We were all beyond sound asleep, humidifiers juggling steam in the air, our bodies warm, wrapped up in thick blankets. To look outside and see the crumbled frost stiff on the sidewalks, no wonder we all slept just a bit longer this morning, it was much too cold to do anything else.
However, the color of calm changes quickly. Once the storm of our morning started stirring, I was impressed at our ability to dress all three little ones and even us big ones, to get out the door in record time. We were off, just a hint later than usual, but very much on time for the weekend. Maybe Fridays were made for sleeping in just long enough to dream ourselves into notions of Saturday and Sunday. How sweet it was that not only did we all get to slightly sleep in, (if you call 7am sleeping in), we still recovered in such swift grace to get out the door with a glorious step closer to more time together on the other end of this day. Enjoy your Friday, just a few “happy hours” until the weekend.
The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent-Alfred Brendel
We sometimes cut each other off because we are both passionate, full of fire, and have a lot to say. I think that passion is what we love about each other. We both desperately want to be heard but sometimes we don’t listen—to each other. It takes immense discipline, willpower to just listen. I don’t know why listening is so difficult—it just is. I imagine if we could just sit back, make eye contact, and take in what each other is saying, our conversations would sing. And I believe one day they will carry each note harmony, as they already sometimes do.
I imagine listening is intentional, patient, thoughtful, and unconditional. I don’t always know for sure, but that is what I believe. I do know that at times our listening in practice sometimes looks like careless dancing, stepping on each other’s feet. To allow someone to express their thoughts, even when what that other person is saying is difficult to hear, is something we are both committed to, just as we are committed to each other.
But we are not there yet. And we both know it, as we dance around our clever words, and catch ourselves pushing and pulling. We both like a good debate, a dueling of thoughts and ideas. We both have a lot to say. But we also have a lot more practice to do with each other; then we can take listening as far as it will go—from tepid to fuming conversations without interruptions. We both want to care deeply about what each other is saying, but we can’t hear each other if we are already in rebuttal, with our body language, in our minds, with our tongues, with even the slightest utterance.
Sitting close, connected, we can talk in fumes and heat, or in calm and peace. I appreciate his temperament, his willingness to try something different, while we teach our tongues to rest and listen, allow the silence to fill the space between our words.
If not for the flu, there would be no combustible onset of body aches and pains, chills, then fever, then chills again, a haze of cough and congestion, sneezing, sore throat, and all over exhaustion. This is a bad one, between he and I. The kind of flu that makes you want to disinfect everything, everyone as they enter in or out the door. The kind of flu that makes us want to cast a protective bubble around all three of our children, protect them from this ill state: not love, not marriage, the flu. But we know better. No such ultimate protection exists, just healthy eating, good and constant hand washing, surface washing, an open window or two, and love without hugs or kisses for a few days. Our hellos and goodbyes drift from our lips to our carefully scrubbed fingertips.
This cruel crackling ill is playing badly right at this very moment through the baby monitor, (thankfully it’s not the baby), my husband on his first of what will be many a dark day with this contagion. I’m on my fourth day in peril with this illness and it has shut my world completely down to fluids—tea, soup, and comfort—a rotation of soft white cotton sheets filled with fever, germs, us.
If not for the flu, (I should note, I didn’t get the flu shot, but my husband did), we might pretend our signature household—our go, go, go lifestyle was infallible. We might think we are invincible, capable of human feats we can only imagine in comics, novels, and movies. The kids would watch us and think they too could do anything—and sometimes they can, we can—but our steps are all measured by something. And if not for the flu, we might get too cozy with our germs, shorten our hand washing, or miss out on that soothing warm tea sweetened with buckwheat honey. We might forget or dismiss how vulnerable we really are, or in that same breath—how much we’re really loved by someone else.
So while we fight this germ filled battle, together, with every bit of “wait it out” we can muster, I’ll just take a moment to be thankful. If not for the flu, I might be tempted to forget love keeps us—in sickness and in health.
Last night at 3am, I was dizzy with sleep. I’d grown tired of us on the sofa—not of us really, more like us curled up with cramped necks and lack of circulation. But as I opened my eyes and readied my tingling limbs to climb the stairs to bed, I found myself sandwiched between darkness and the flickering stream of color glowing in my husband’s interestingly fixed and seemingly amused eyes. I was confused, sleepy, maybe a little delirious. I felt as if I had interrupted a moment between his guilt free transport into an imaginary action world and the gloriously ominous story lines accompanied by bizarre sounds only superheros fighting for future civilizations can effect. Needless to say, I left my husband curled up, engulfed in The Avengers, (as in Marvel comics, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk).
What can I say, the man likes comics, no big deal. But at 3am, I admit I was surprised that he was willing to trade precious sleep for one, or maybe it was two or three, I don’t know I left him downstairs, 20-minute episode(s). To be fair, I suppose it isn’t much different from the coveted sleep I trade when I’m writing. Then again, maybe it’s slightly different. I guess I just haven’t learned to appreciate fully those action hero one-liners, extraordinarily superhuman fist fights and choreographed brawls, and the ultimate in animated lessons of good and evil. I guess I just love my husband, comic nerd and all. And last night as I eased my way upstairs to bed, I left him to his own devices, where only the true admirers of superhero magic lie in waiting.
I don’t have to understand why one would trade sleep for cartoons and superheros; though to be completely transparent I did sit through one episode because I was curious. My conclusion–I still don’t understand. But again I don’t have to. Perhaps love is a bit superhuman in its capacity to allow the one you love to be who they are, even if who they are dwells in unfamiliar and animated late night spaces.
Write because it’s Sunday (or at least it was yesterday when I wrote this).
Write because the baby just delivered an inevitable (and disgusting) teething trilogy of carrots, milk, and who knows what else all over my husband’s sleeve. “Better him than me,” I thought to myself because secretly I’m maneuvering, trying to carve out a few minutes to sit down to write soon.
Write because the sprawl of wooden Jenga pieces will not put themselves away and picking them up from the floor at this very moment will not matter even if for a few minutes while I finish this sentence.
Write because Sunday evening the family finds itself tired of each other in this small space and scatters in wiggly bodies and exhaustion throughout the house to the various crevices of play and solitude.
Take this brief yet brilliant time to scribble, type, or think about the next line, fumble through an idea, pretend not to hear the baby stirring in his crib upstairs. But even after the dishwasher is loaded for the night, clothes set out for the morning, and the lunches are nearly made, that corner in the living room where I want to curl up with my journal or laptop may just have to wait. Finish the sentence, the final thought, then put it away, the baby is still stirring upstairs and would rather fall asleep in my arms.
And even after the kids are asleep and I softly step from their room back downstairs, I remember to write because while the laundry won’t fold itself, the next sentence or page or idea I’m working on is far more interesting than a stack of folded towels. Write because even if for the next few minutes, the laundry can wait.
Why do you write?
Leave a comment below or on Twitter @lifeandwrite #Writebecause
Somewhere in the bended wrinkle of your boots, beside the tangled laces, the notes of your service, your experiences lie stitched in cloth and suede. In the bottom grooves of those boots, memories of the desert, the water, the hills and fields crowd in dark corners between heel and sole. Our little boys have all tried on your camel step, their small bare feet searching for the rhythm of their father, your narrative of love, courage, and hopefulness, your call of duty. I’ve watched you march in circles; sing your soldier’s song in call and response with our smiling children trying to keep cadence. I thank you for sharing your stories, your travels, your language, your life with us. As you serve, we serve with you, and we love you. Thank you Major Edwards for your service and duty sealed with your life in honor and commitment to the best for all of our lives.
Today, on Veteran’s Day, I thank you husband, father, brother, son…sing along with you today (and everyday) your solder’s song.
Raising three kids is a blur of wonder and chaos, and dating while married is like a curiously well-planned mission. So in an effort to align with sanity in our marriage and in parenting, my husband and I signed up for a weekly yoga class. Breathe… I love a guy with balance and strength who will attempt all transitions of warrior pose until his limbs are as giving as his love. I appreciate him humoring me. Midweek date night doubling as exercise. Namaste.
A few years ago I wondered if love was just out of my reach. Then I looked up from my wonder and love was standing there in front of me smiling.
In the final days of summer, with cooler mornings and mild afternoons, when the sun is just high enough to wrap its warmth in our squinting eyes, my husband and I celebrated our love. On our special day, he dressed up for me in his crisp white shirt and decorated shoulders. I wore wine colored heels and a smile. There was a moment of pause as we honored the lives lost on this day and honored each other—love.
We sat on the patio so we could look at each other under the bending stems and flat green leaves, our table just inches from where we stood a few years ago and said, “I do.” We spoke under our breaths between the swirl of sourdough in tomato stained olive oil, and slow bites of farfalle and chicken, crab cake and slaw. I had forgotten we sometimes need reassurance, the sound of water rhythm running in the stream beside us. It reminded me of patience; something love and time are teaching me.
It was over dessert and a single flame that we leaned in towards each other, closed our eyes, and wished together first in silence, then gathered our hands and shared our hope out loud with each other and in gesture with those around us. I wish you love on this day, and our love together, every day thereafter.
Oh me of little faith as I watched my husband take apart his Playstation console as if it were a delicate operation, as if he had the steady hands of a desperate-to-game mad scientist. Piece by piece, the click and pop of plastic and metal scraped against his tools of choice: a screwdriver, a heat gun, and the cheerful, ever so calm voice of the nameless woman offering DIY guidance and direction on YouTube.
My husband called out to the computer screen, as he paused and played the video over and over, with frustration as he peeled apart the dusty black box and revealed the intricate mapping of the motherboard, the potential root of his problem, and the halt of his late night military raids and covert operations in the virtual theater of Call of Duty.
As I sat across from him at the table staring into my computer trying to write, I had to laugh inside at the madness scattered across the table, the guts of his gaming system spilled out in excess. I had to laugh because I thought my husband had no idea what he was doing as he called out to the stranger on YouTube in confusion and shouted out some choice words out of frustration over the trickling blood after cutting his finger. Thankfully it was only a flesh wound.
Hours later I’m sorry I ever doubted him, his skills, his determination. Gamers are serious about their play—enough to stay up all night, eyes bloodshot, bandaged finger, and a metal mess on the table. By 5am the next day, at the first stir of our newborn, my husband was done. The table cleared of his confusion and chaos. I still don’t get it; but I respect his heart, his technical agility, and most of all, enough curiosity to not give up until the first blasts and flares of virtual war flickered from the screen. I’m amazed at how he took that system apart and did not quit until he put it right back together again. That’s impressive. Game on honey… game on…
Dinner at downtown’s De-Novo was a crisp bottle of Santa Margharita pinot, an exotic course of Kangaroo (I was skeptical, but it was delicious), a main course of Chilean sea bass and pomegranate-glazed salmon, and for dessert, tiramisu. Conversation was cautious and easy across the flickering globe centered at our table. Dining near the window was a view of the city’s green space commons, a cozy but lively patio during happy hour, and a random ride by a few dozen ladies cycling through the center of the city at dusk. We were whispering thoughtful words caught between our lips, our busy lives; and the warm glass glow.
Since the baby was born (nearly three months ago) and with the other two boys as busy as ever, my husband and I haven’t had much time with “just us”. So we put the boys to bed with a sitter, dressed up, and didn’t look back. I don’t believe in (mommy) guilt on a date night, especially while seated cozy in the window at nightfall accompanied by a bottle of wine and some real adult conversation, (the cute guy sitting next to me doesn’t hurt either). Friday or Saturday dining out would have been nice (but much more busy), so I’ll take a light crowd, good food and music on a Wednesday any time. When in doubt go on a midweek date night; sometimes waiting until Friday or Saturday just won’t do.
The page feels unforgiving; eyes fixed on silent pale light, mind wrapped up in the clutter downstairs or the argument left stewing around the corner. The words don’t always bend as they ought too. Sometimes ink darkens the blank paper, a black eye under ballpoint pen. Or the cursor blinking, waiting like the baskets of unfolded clothes, like the silent stale of routine without an apology. The walls are swollen with busy thoughts, crumbled lists that disappear in mornings and rumble during sleep. Like the page, the laundry, the dust in the corners, the argument feels unforgiving. But forgiveness does not swirl as speckles of dust in sunlight; it is the screaming sweep of clean on the floors, where time is lost in the shine, and the page is covered in words.
For two weeks or maybe 14 days, or more like 336 hours, I walked in my postpartum haze with milk spotted cotton shirt, the random chatter of boys on either side of my hips. I birthed the older boys years ago; though somehow they hang on the sway of my strut or still. The toys once scattered in awkward pose, an obstacle course on dull wood floors in the living room, now lie on top of each other over and over again in the basket in the corner. A tidy house, busy or empty, felt like sanity. For seven days I had no tears for the predicament he left us in, until my lap and forehead filled with fevers and runny noses, not in that order. But in that favor, the way favors seem cruel when home alone with just a piece of rest, a pile of laundry, and a tenor of moans that missed him. And I missed him too. In ailment, there were only moments of fresh air and deep breaths. Food is less appealing when you can’t smell or taste it. Without you, home was a stomach rumbling.
Sometimes love and marriage feels easy, simple (though admittedly sometimes it’s really complicated). Sometimes we love in two languages (though sometimes even English seems impossible to translate). Sometimes love doesn’t always know what to say or how to say it, so our hearts and our tongues borrow beautifully scripted words in Spanish (and English) to remind us who we are, how and who we love.
Precioso. Gracias mi amor.