…which makes it sound that I had first narrowed the field down to “Debs”. But Deb understands that I fail at logic, and so say stuff for sound.
Anyway, the other day, at the table, after supper, during those lingering minutes that can sometimes stretch into the evening, Deb and I were talking about the different personalities of cats. Two cats actually, not ours, but ones we know personally.
“Diego prefers watching from a distance,” Deb said, “She’s a ponderer.”
“She’s a cattish cat.” I said.
“But Elli spends her time making short trips around ankles, bouncing into laps, bouncing on the inside.”
“Maybe she’s a dog.” I said.
Now when Deb and I sit and talk it’s my tendency to listen, sometimes drift, mull, listen again. And it’s Deb’s tendency to work things out by speaking them as they arrive—bounce ideas around—then link things up on the fly.
It’s taken me some time to get her, and so be comfortable with her way of airing things out (think of waxwings and a row of mountain ash). What I used to think were a series of conclusions were in fact scattered stories on their way to resolutions.
I guess what I mean to say is that relationships are mysterious and revealing, difficult and satisfying, scarring and sanctifying, consuming and liberating.
Remember those moments of awe you had as a kid? Still have? Well I had one the other week. After supper, listening to the stories of Deb’s day (it had been a good day), drifting, pondering, I saw these two thing at once: what she was seeing was wondrous to her, while the fact of seeing, was wondrous to me. We were two sides of one person. And let me just point out here that the awe-of-connection one feels in these moments, blows away every romanticized cliché.
In the first years of our marriage we were those proverbial night ships, but now, even when we sail our separate ways, attend to our separate interests, we move back together as two rafts inevitably will, on a slow meandering river. Contentment.
Not long ago, on one of our evening walks, Deb said, “Remember, whatever happens, there’s always you and me.”
We’ve said this periodically throughout our marriage. But the meaning has evolved. Years ago, it was something like an apprehensive incantation against this capricious harrowing world. Today it’s stating a simple reality—a faithfulness extending beyond here, born of intentional time, and many birthdays together.
The curious and paradoxical thing about all this, is that, while we know that neither of us can completely satisfy the cluster of needs we carry through this life (we’ve long ago agreed to relieve ourselves of such pressure), we’ve somehow, nevertheless, through dumb-luck, much effort, and some kind of guiding mystery, satisfied them all.
Happy birthday Deb. You’ve taught me to revere occasion, taught me the power of celebration. You’ve given me a horizon of venerate ritual and colour, a yard full of happy habits and various astonishments, the gift of surety and cliff-edge dancing. Here’s to another year of dancing!