My wedding day was beautiful. I prayed for perfect weather, and I got it. Sunshine, blue skies. Everything about the day was gorgeous, it was a perfect wedding, right down to the horse drawn carriage that took me and my now ex-husband to the reception hall. It was a fairytale wedding, I had the princess gown and all.
10 years later we divorced.
And now….now if I were to marry again I pray for one thing.
I pray for rain.
I pray for a warm Southern rain, with a thunderstorm or two. I want the day to be deliciously imperfect. I want the cake to be slightly off, the priest to be late, someone to make a big fuss over something small and insignificant and cause a kufuffel, I want to write my own wedding vows and somehow mess it up.
I want the bottom of my dress to get muddy as I dance in the second-line and jump in puddles with my beloved as we walk to a small intimate restaurant, with those we love most, our toes wet with warm rain, and then sit barefoot to eat not filet mignon, but crawfish etouffee. The kind of etoufee that’s messy, like me, and I dribble It right down onto my dress, because it’s soooooo good, and I’m eating it too quickly. I want music, lots of music…music that isn’t perfect, slightly dissonant. I want the laughter that imperfection brings.
I want imperfection in all its majesty, because…because that’s what real life is. I want someone as imperfect as me to share my life with, someone what understands that a little bit of dissonance creates beautiful music.
This is one of the best articles that I have read about what to say to someone who is suffering.
Today…I came full circle. Today…of all days, just like any other day, nothing special, it simply clicked in the car driving back from work, listening to this TED Talk…I got the answers that I had spent years trying to figure out. You see, I had been a twist in the fabric of love for quite some time.
“The key to true love is in the word true. It was when I was honest with myself and let go of an agenda and stop trying to make things happen that love could actually happen, otherwise I was just pushing it away….Love isn’t some kind of magical thinking…it’s grace…it’s by honoring gentleness.”
Gentleness…this was something I had to re-remember…for such a long time, love had been my warzone…I had forgotten gentleness and grace, like thistledown, and golden rod, and golden summers, and tiger swallowtail wings…that’s what love was, this gentleness.
Maybe it was the re writing of my first story. The ending had been bothering me for quite some time…then I realized….I needed to see it from his perspective…and write that. Maybe it was the day in it’s utter ordinariness, but I understood him…and I understood me…and all the things that prevented love and all the things that made it beautiful…and all the things it still was…now that it was something else, that really couldn’t be labeled in any way…maybe it was a nothing for him…for me…it was something quiet that remained in my heart. A quiet gentleness where once there was a storm.
Sometimes we learn our lessons in love…sometimes we learn our lessons in the absence of it. But we learn… we do learn…
“I was gardening with a nun, she handed me a tiny plant, it had two leaves, it was light green and it was beaming, and it said, I am extremely precious, I’m am life itself. And it’s your responsibility to take care of me…I had no choice but to honor it.”
To love…is to see each other like little plant, and say, “You are extremely precious, you are life itself and it’s my responsibility to take care of you and this love…I honor you.
This can be done…with everyone and everything…but most importantly, with the person whom you love.
I was researching for another story when I tripped upon my next book. I choose stories “by whisper”. I was asked how I come up with the ideas for my books recently, I said, I don’t, they just come to me, like a whispering voice in my head, then…I just write them down.
My favorite luthier was in the shop this weekend. He is my favorite because he is full of stories. I asked him what type of wood violins were made of.
“They are made of spruce and maple. They are aged 30, 60, 80 years in some cases, the wood is very old.” At least, real fiddles are very old.”
I was entranced. I’ve always loved violins. Their sound is like home, it soothes me, and I can actually feel the vibration of the sound in my body, synthethesia. I didn’t realize for the longest time that most people don’t feel what I feel when I hear music. It’s like being touched, physically. I get tingles all over.
I didn’t grow up in a musical family, but I have music in my blood a couple of generations back. There were Irish fiddle players on my Mom’s side. It seems my Great Great Grandfather’s violin paid for Great Grandmother’s tuition to school. A very sad story, her parents died (I think of the flu) and she raised in a convent till age 15. Her father’s violin, which apparently was of a fine quality paid for the tuition. The nuns put the violin behind glass in the hallway on display and my Great Grandmother had to walk by it every day. I can’t imagine how much that must have hurt her as she was reminded of her father and her family’s fiddle now belonged to someone else. That’s another story to be told.
My visits to our local luthier to size up Anna’s violin are always exciting for me. Anna get’s a new violin, and I get some of the most romantic stories I have ever heard. Violins are terribly romantic instruments. Yesterday’s tale was of the luthiers of Saxony.
As I said earlier, the wood used to make a violin is aged sometimes up to 80 years before it is crafted into a violin. Which means, the wood is sourced by the father with the intention that his son will be making the violin. The wood is the family inheritance.
Violins made in Saxony are well known for their high quality due to this generational gift.
During WWII, the German army came through this area and needed wood for their fires, they found it already pre cut for them in the luthier’s workshops, confiscated them and burned them. In order to preserve what they could, the families begun hiding the wood. They would boil huge vats of beeswax and dip the wood in the beeswax, then bury it in ginny sack clothes in the woods. Some of this fine wood was saved, but thousands of pieces were lost to the army’s camp fires.
The horror of watching your families inheritance, expertly chosen and sourced wood hand selected by your father to become a beautiful fiddle that would span centuries….stolen and burned before your eyes. I cried on the way home after I heard the story. It’s heartbreaking.
Images came to my mind of the violence of family watching their generational workshops being raided, the wood and the violins being taken and thrown in a common camp fire, destroying art with thoughtlessness.
And was it all thoughtless?
What freezing German soldier, maybe one who was a musician himself, one who watched his father play the fiddle at Christmas, desperate to keep warm, watch a fiddle flame up and burn, and cry.
What happened to these men, their trade, how did they survive the heartbreak? How did they make it through? This insanity we know as war.
Tell our story….said the whisper….
I was drying golden locks of spun cornsilk this morning. At least that’s what my daughter’s hair looks and feels like. There is an exquisite detail that love brings. Like how the shape of her head looks from the back, the way her blouse doesn’t quite tuck in right, the roundness of her cheeks, like mine, the sound of the dryer, methodical in it’s sound, as I pull the brush through.
There are golden moments some mornings, when handling golden hair.
There are golden moments unexpectedly, like when I looked at the city sign on the way back from dropping her off at school. The sun had risen casting a warm glow on the open sky behind, pink like lemonade and powder blue. It reminded me of New Orleans. I was reminded how I felt there, open like a big sky. I was reminded of Ault park on a summer day, with humidity hugging me, and the sounds of creaking swings, and squealing children, and my naked toes in naked green grass reading a book.
And I thought…
How do we hold these moments longer? Is it possible to live here, in these magic moments more? Is that the gift of love? Allowing this absolute focus on the present moment, the detail, the beauty? It makes me want to cry some days, and I do, not because I’m sad, but because life…life is so beautiful.
“She had such a strength and vulnerability in her voice.” She said.
I thought she was vulnerable and fierce, a warrior. She sang about those things I thought about and her loss was hitting me hard. This woman I knew and did not know.
She was taken too soon, like everyone else in the past year and half, and I was wondering and remembering those things hidden in the chambers of my heart. This world that takes sensitive souls too soon and while they are here get twisted by the darkness that seems to ebb in and out of our day to days.
This world is made for banished immortals, writers, poets, musicians, artists, creatives, those of us who are in cahoots with The Great Artist, but it’s also full of dark things and dark people and unkindness that sometimes seeps into even the kindest of souls. Even us sometimes…and this ache…does not leave us, even years later.
It’s a poison to the sensitive spirit, and sometimes…just sometimes…it’s too much, and takes are great artists too soon. They return home…to that place we all remember, where there was only love and acceptance and peace, and beautiful music and love that never ends, and hugs that last an eternity. You see…that’s what we remember the most, and that is why even the slightest look of or the tone of disdain can cut us to the core. Because we don’t truly understand it, it doesn’t make sense, because like old people and children we are closer to the beginning of things, and this remembering.
And some of us are taken home soon…too soon for the rest of us left behind. And we remember you, and everything you gave us, and we cry with sadness but also happiness too, because we know you are home.
Some of us also know, the in between, we know we
are here to stay, and work to bring the remembering back to everyone we meet. To someone keep this knowing alive, and fight for those who don’t have the strength to keep going. We look for hands to hold and arms to wrap ourselves in.
Some of us battle the unconsciousness of the word on stage, or on the page, in the studio, or even the board room. Yes…some of us work in the most unlikely of places, working to protect this remembering.
But we know also…that sometimes…some of us must leave too soon…
And till we meet again..
…we will be dreaming our dreams of you.
She was wearing a fantastic purple eye shadow and looked to be somewhere in the sumptuous age of 85. She was immaculately attired with a gold medallion broach on her navy blue blazer.
“Your broach is gorgeous!”
“Thank you. My husband gave it to me. We were married for 50 years.” She said with a twinkle in her eye.
“What’s the secret…to staying together?” Her response was immediate.
“You love everything about them their greatness and their flaws equally. You respect each other. You discuss your not so nice sides with respect. You don’t go to bed angry.”
“Thank you for sharing that with me…that was beautiful. Is you husband…”
“Still alive…no…he died 15 years ago.”
“Have you remarried or are you dating anyone?”
“Oh goodness no. I would never want to. When you’ve had the best, there’s nothing else then that…I couldn’t move on from the best…I wouldn’t want to.”
I looked her straight in the eye, woman to woman.
“I know exactly what you mean.”
We shared a common understanding. There is only one person for some of us.
Here we were, two kindred spirits separated only by years, lone women…who choose to be alone.