Hope grows from that place, the place where everything is possible and no one can tell me, “No, you’re wrong, that can’t happen.”
It’s the place where my imagination is safe to wander. I come here often, both when life is calm and in times of conflict and question, to inspire and comfort myself. I come here to remember what I hope for in my heart and create in my mind, has the strength to exist outside of this place, in the world and in my reality.
I wake, patient as my eyes adjust to consciousness, there’s no rush anymore. My feet land on the cold dark mahogany floor. I can see through the sheath; it’s foggy today, the break is strong.
The same pelican keeps pooping on the railing; it’s a game between us now. I clean it each time, because it’s my footrest. I think he knows it too. At least he didn’t soil my cozy chair.
I walk into the bathroom. I’m tempted to wipe up his toothpaste droppings, just like the pelican, but he’s not playing a game. It’s endearing how he leaves his markings—A chest hair on the mat, his toothpaste on the sink, his empty lemonade cup on the counter.
A reminder of the choice we made, which we continue to make– to love one another every day. After 30 years of marriage, we still have to stop each other mid-sentence, otherwise we will talk until sunrise and we need to get some sleep. Tomorrow we have a big day, all the kids and grandkids are coming to visit.
I put on my robe, anticipating the eruption of goose bumps from the tickle of terry cloth on my skin. I’ve always thought robes were a right of passage to adulthood. I’m certainly an adult now, an aged one—my hands are a constant reminder of that. My nails are the only artifacts of youth on my body. They remain small and dainty, child’s nails, I’ve been told. I pinch my knuckle, my skin is now like clay, slowly sinking into the sea of wrinkles after realizing it’s out of place. Just like my skin, I stopped bouncing back years ago. I like taking my time now.
I walk downstairs, pausing on each step to adjust the pictures on the wall. He knocks them with his elbow sometimes. He calls me “the adjuster” I can’t help it, all of our memories deserve to be seen perfectly, level and easy to admire—The years, the events, the fusion of two lives as one.
He loves those girls like they are his own, like he was in the delivery room just as he was for him. He is his shining star. He’s lived for his son since he found out he was going to be a dad. He was terrified he would repeat, but he didn’t, and it wasn’t even a conscious choice.
I haven’t seen my boy since we were last abroad to visit. I had a book reading there. We had a fabulous time. I love her too. I knew I would love anyone he chose. I taught him only to listen to that feeling, the feeling that rises and tragically drowns in the judgment of the mind. The “it can’t happen this fast, how can I know?” skepticism that robs the heart of leading the way, but he chose to listen to his heart just like his father, and for that, I am proud.
I see Jan walking Sammy up to the back gate. I love golden retrievers, always have. I’m so relieved Faye has a playmate. Since Jan and Sammy moved next door last January, Faye’s acting like a puppy again, her dysplasia is calming. She knows her freedom is near.
I reach into the cupboard and grab her leash. “Hold your horses. You’ll be with your boyfriend in a moment.”
We meet at the back door, “Good morning! She’s ready to go, right on time.”
“I’ll have her back in an hour or so. You must be so excited!” Her eyes disappear as her lips widen, her smile is genuine. “Everyone is coming in today for the wedding this weekend, right?”
“Yes, they are. I’m bursting right now, can’t wait.”
I watch as Faye and Sammy do their dance. Their tails follow the wag of their hind legs. Romping over each other, sand snowing from the ground up. Sammy peppering Faye with his leftovers of muddy sea salt. Pure happiness, I know that feeling.
I fill my cup—I’m in love with this espresso machine, a gift from Emma’s babies for their grandma. I think of them as I watch the drip, drip, drip. I miss them more and more as my cup fills. I can feel their silky curls brushing up against my cheek; I live for their embrace. Knowing I will see them in a few hours, keeps my tears at bay.
I sit down to check my mail, distracted by the view yet again, staring at the horizon waiting for the dolphins to travel north; they do that this time of year. He insisted I place my desk by the window. It’s not really a desk, more like a dining table with one chair. My guests are the scripts, books, letters and mid century lamp I found in that antique store in Brussels. It is never too crowded, there is always room for one more guest. I call it controlled chaos, for an artist isn’t an artist without disarray somewhere in his or her life.
I jump, startled by the sports center alert, even though it is the most predictable of sounds in the morning, 8:15 a.m. on the dot. I’ll make sure to take a peek at the last trade, so I can report to him. He loves when I do that.
An email from Ruby—
We got on the freeway a bit earlier than expected.
The kids were too excited to watch cartoons.
We’ll be there by noon, so have the mac n’ cheese hot and ready!
I love you so much,
No matter how old they are, they still make me feel like I’m five again. Just hearing their voices reminds me of everything I’ve done right in life.
Two cups of coffee, one black, one with cream and sugar. My latest read tucked under my arm. I still have not mastered the art of taming hot liquid as I travel to my destination, especially up the stairs. “How do servers do it? Stop it! You have this thought every day, just concentrate and don’t spill please. “
I arrive without an upset. I set the cups on the coffee table. I quietly sweep the curtains back, never taking for granted the distance I travel to reveal the light in here. We wanted an inside/outside house and we worked hard to build it, not just this house, but our life.
I turn the lock and slide one of the panels aside. It’s brisk outside, but he’s under the blanket, he won’t feel the draft.
I grab the towel my devoted house keeper leaves by my chair every evening. She’s in on the game too, on my team. I scrub away the pelican poop, place the coffee on the table and grab the two blankets from the sofa by the door, unfolding one on each chair; prepared for our morning ritual.
I tiptoe towards his side of the bed, he always sleeps on the right because he usually is always right, I’ve come to accept that over the years. He’s reality. I’m imagination. It’s been this way since we met. We knew right away too– that this was it, we just didn’t admit it for a little while.
I scratch his head, “Honey, today’s the day. Our family is coming.” He smiles, with his eyes closed but his lips wide awake, “Kiss me, my love.” His lips haven’t aged, neither have mine, neither has our love.
“Come outside when you’re ready. I want to read you something I plan to add for the ceremony on Saturday. I just can’t believe our baby boy is getting married.”
I sit down in my chair, pull my legs to my chest and cover myself in the blanket. Today, I’m overcome with the reality of it — Hope meeting me in the present moment, a rendezvous I’ve experienced many times before, “I’m in heaven and I’m still living.”
I take a sip of coffee, lean back in my chair and prop my feet up on the railing.
I share most of myself publicly, but not my stories of hope, those are private. My imagination is most precious to me, more than my experiences. I’ve wrote to him and read to him many times now, but this felt different. I’m holding my breath—a bit nervous.
I can’t look up just yet. The candlelight flickering on the page, my spaghetti and meatball patiently awaiting. I glance at my hands, my nails small and dainty painted dark for fall, my skin smooth, a few little cracks around my thumbs, because I washed my hands too much this week.
We had planned to sit on the couch after dinner and I would read to him, but I wasn’t going to waste any more time not sharing this with him.
I’m safe in his presence. He’s the only one who makes me feel this way—soft and defenseless. I’ve imagined this place, where I can be weak and still be accepted.
I needed him to know he lives not only in my present, but in my most secret of places where I hide my hopes and my dreams, tucked away only for me. I tell him often, he tells me too, but I couldn’t wait one more moment without reminding him that he is everything I have ever hoped for.
He’s to my left. I’m to his right. Side by side. I lift my gaze, sheepishly.
I meet two tear filled eyes admiring me, weeping with love.
“Who’s idea was it to allow our son to move abroad?” I smile, choked with the same amount of love. It is equal—Finally. “Your idea,” I whisper.
I’ve met hope in the present moment just as I did in my imagination. The future is already here, I just had to free it for it to come true.
“I think you just wrote your next piece. It’s sweet and soft. You should publish it.”