Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dear Dutch,

It is morning, the morning after you have gone – back to work, to ‘real life,’ as they say, while we, your women, remain behind for a spell, to enjoy the ocean airs.

Ashamed as I am to say it, my predominant feeling is one of regret. The week went by too, too fast. It always, always does, particularly when I am with you. We had too much to say to one another and not enough moments in which to simply sit, enjoying each other's presence, not talking.

I know, I know, I am so greedy... a living testament to the truth that the eye is never satisfied. Whatever the size or quality of a gift (and oh, what a gift this week was!) – I cannot help, as a vile member of the human race, always wanting more. No wonder gluttony is a sin! It is satiation without satisfaction; (over)consumption without gratitude. No sooner have we feasted upon one perfect morsel than we are already thinking of the next…

All week long, I was unwilling to relinquish more than a few moments to the drudgery of housework. I’ve still hardly unpacked and my clothes are spilling out all sides of my suitcase in crumpled mounds. Silly, perhaps. But all those ordinary tasks seemed to crouch in the cobwebs, like thieves, waiting to rob me of my time with you!

I never quite figured out how to reconcile the simultaneous sense of awe and panic that each moment of beauty aroused: awe because, in it, I found myself risen to new heights; and panic because I knew it was bound, any second, to end…

But even the briefest moments will endure in the wellspring of my memory: like winding around Garibaldi Bay with you, on our way to Waldport, with the sunlight flashing on the water and the seagulls hovering, wings stretched, above the great black rocks; or stopping at the fresh fruit stand, with Audrey, to buy ‘apples’ (peaches, really) and survey the vast vats full of cherries.

I never, not even in Ireland, saw grass as lime green as that which stretched out across the low wetlands south of Tillamook; and there was something primordial - Eden-like - about the violet haze above the mountains as the sun set that evening.

I will on no account forget how astonished we were, hours earlier, after we finally arrived on the doorstep of that ancient, outworn house, to find ourselves enveloped by the sweeping views: the ocean in front and behind; the bay, alive with bobbing sailboats and arched by a steel bridge, beside; and sand, all the way round.

I wish you could have seen yourself, sprinting across the beach, with Audrey in your arms, to frighten that flock of seagulls. It was spectacular, watching them scatter and then swoop back over our heads in a perfect triangular formation.

And then - who could have guessed we would happen upon a harem of sea lions, sprawled out on the bay’s shore?! I must say, you were right at home amongst that gang of schoolboys, itching in their shorts, wanting so badly to ignore their nagging mothers, who shouted, “Not too close, Ollie!” and, “Put that stick down, Dylan!” and run up to give them a proper scaring yourself. “Blasted animal etiquette,” you said. “In the old days I could have walked right up and touched them!”

And though the way home – with a squealing, about-to-be-carsick 2-year-old – was anything but pleasant, you helped me find the joy in it, setting us on a search to find the perfect chowder.

There were, I must admit, incidents I hope to learn from: like the moment when, just after Audrey had finally gone to sleep, you slammed the door of our bedroom – loud! – so loud I jumped and hissed at you to shush. You hate being ‘shushed.’ It is your least favorite thing in the world. I know this. And still I shushed you. I am sorry!

I am even sorrier that I shushed you a second time when, several seconds later, you – quite accidentally, according to you – slammed the door again!

Finally, there are those things I wish to reinstate, such as poking fun at one another. It was easier to engage in this kind of jovial, lighthearted banter before we had children, when we had, seemingly, endless hours of recreational time together, wasn’t it? One tends not to poke fun when one is pressed for time. Instead, in the lone hour we usually have between Audrey’s bedtime and our own, I often feel we must be serious, must ‘get straight down to business.’

It’s natural, then, to wish this week in Manzanita – sweet land that I love – could have lasted forever; but I realize, now that it’s over, that I wouldn’t want to live in a state of suspended ‘sunset’ moments. After all, a good part of what makes the sunset so magnificent is that it is rare - the vast majority of one’s day is spent looking up at a gray, or, in our case, clear blue - sky.

But besides this, I recognize that it is only a matter of time before the Eden which this ocean ecstasy appears to be, gives way to reality. I must remind myself – you must remind me, when I am home – that until our hearts have been remade no place, no matter how beautiful, will ever be Paradise.

As Wordsworth says, "Though nothing can bring back the hour / Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; / We will grieve not, rather find / Strength in what remains behind."

So here's to our very own, very ‘real’ life- and the context it provides for the perfecting of our souls.

I wouldn’t want to live it with anyone but you.


Your Wife

1 comment:

The Who said...

woah. I am sitting in our tour van outside of a coffee shop in St. Louis MI and crying like a loon. I feel like I write this on every post but THANK GOD you are writing. And the way that you a crystal to the eye. Thank you.