“It was a beautiful wedding, my friend,” I say, as I work to remove bobby pins. Her hair falls around my hands in tendrils, finally flowing and free, and I add, “I’m glad to be here.” A weekend a year in the making, give or take, and three different locations, and that’s all I can think to say. I’m good with words at the wrong moments, it seems. But I know this one I’ll remember, regardless, as the end of the happy (happiest) day when my friend married her best friend by the water in Maryland.
The hush of the day. The slow and steady step of night, dawdling along like a happy child. The sleepy, changing slant of light on a pastel painted sky. Try as you might, in this world high on hurry and worry, you just can’t rush a summer sunset.
No more, no more. It is gone and lost to us now – the how and the where and the why. All that’s left there in the remains of a million Saturdays is a listless, wondering haze of woulds and coulds and shoulds: the regrets of age. And the rage, the rage, in flashes and waves that the end of days makes equal ash and bone of both the fool and the sage.
They say, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and knowing I can choose, I’d certainly rather venture, even if it means I lose. See, it so happens that I know a little something about nothing, that sad default, that frustrating non-finish line. Nothing: What I say when I can’t find the words. Nothing: What I do when the world is too much. Nothing: What changes when I don’t. Nothing, safe though it may be, just isn’t enough for me.
The longest of days, high sun, heavy heat, and the creeping feeling that a storm’s on the way. Summer greets the world, slow and hazy, fierce and free, all promise and no rules, except these: Be ready for anything, and bring bug spray.
Music maker, dreamer, driver, fearless motorcycle rider, and friend to everybody: That’s my dad. Dad, you gave me rhythm and time, and you made your story part of mine. You taught me how to live free, (but with responsibility) and to love fiercely (but smartly, too). Bold and kind and clever, you gave me the best parts of you. Forever isn’t long enough to be grateful. But it’s what I can do.
On summer days, my happy place is not a beach or mountain path. It’s so much more (or less) than that (depending on how you look at it). My happy place, when the weather’s warm and the days and nights are long and quiet, is by your side wherever you are. My happy place on summer days (and winter, fall, and spring days, too) is a whole world: me and you.
My mom and I were having a funny conversation a couple of weeks ago, talking about how stubbornness runs in the family. Like, both families. My dad’s and my mom’s. And so I come by my stubbornness honestly, and I told her that. I added that out of the three of us, I thought I was probably the least stubborn, and my dad was the most. She said she’s much less stubborn than me. I told her she’s absolutely more stubborn than I am. (Though we both seemed to agree that my dad is the most stubborn of all of us, so there’s that, I suppose.)
This (good-natured) back and forth went on for a little while, and then Graham (poor Graham), came upstairs to make a cup of coffee. So of course, I asked him to settle the matter and declare which of us – my mom or me – was the least stubborn.
“Your mom,” he said. “You’re so much more stubborn than your mom.”
She burst out laughing. I objected. The conversation eventually moved on.
And then I sat down today to write a poem for the blog. I wasn’t even thinking of the stubbornness conversation. Honestly, I was sitting in my chair looking outside at the sunshine and the cardinals in the yard, happy as a clam.
But, well, this is what I wrote:
Please, by all means, tell me I can’t. There is no better way on the face of this planet to ensure that not only can I, I will.
“What lovely flowers,” I say, and what I mean is: “I see how much work it took to create this blissful space. It’s something I could never do, at least, not without significant difficulty. I appreciate the beautiful things you’ve planted and nurtured. I can see the love in your heart, because you’ve poured it into these little pink sunbursts, and all of the others around us, too. I’m grateful for this time with you in your garden.” But that’s a mouthful and a half, and we’ve got limited time this visit. So what I say is simply, “What lovely flowers.” And I trust that you’ll get the message.