On the windowsill in a tall glass vase, the leggy branches I cut from the forsythia and the lilac bushes a week ago have exploded into a riot of delicate yellow blossoms and green leaves; stamens licking the warm indoor air, waiting for kiss of the honey bee that wonâ€™t arrive. Instead, the cat rubs up against the branches, her coat dappled with evening sunlight.
DH is practicing guitar, and the melody circles me. It lilts and flutters, like birds lifting off high wires in unison to wing the peripheries of the field before alighting again. Heâ€™s gotten good, recently, under the instruction of a teacher for the first time in his life, and I like the way his practice has become the soundtrack for my thoughts; the way words weave gradually, to the rhythm of his song.
Last night we lay, chest to belly on the couch and talked about my worries and our dreams. I say my worries, because they are mine mostly. Iâ€™m somehow prone to lurching into worry anytime there isnâ€™t an enchanting or certain goal in front of me. Iâ€™m the kind of girl who needs to be able to lie on the top of a grassy knoll, arms akimbo, looking up at the dark bowl of twirling stars, and have the flashlight and the star charts and the information guides about every single constellation.
Iâ€™m the girl who disembarked from the airplane at the tiny Puerto Rico airport without any plans for lodging, or transportation, or even a destination in mind. But I was also the one who had read Lonely Planet cover to cover, and dog-eared every back-door eatery and local beach and the place to get the best chorros. I wandered for days, noâ€”weeks---through Florence, Italy, without any plans or specific sightseeing goals, and yet, I had the background info on every statue, fountain, cathedral, piece of art and small gelato joint I encountered. I canâ€™t help it.
So when it comes to our life: mine and his and ours together with our two-year-old gorgeous little tow-headed Beansprout, I get listless and unmoored when we donâ€™t talk about plans or have any long range goals on the table. I need things like rosebushes, which have always spoken the eloquent language of staying put to me, and I need things like raised garden beds, and bonfires, and dinner parties and blueprints for building a barn and a studio. So when we donâ€™t talk about these things enough, or when we donâ€™t talk about them at all for months on end, I become frantic and anxious and uncertain. Then I start inadvertently unraveling all the exquisitely beautiful bits of fabric that make up the patchwork quilt of the life we have together.
Wanderlust bites me, and spreads across the map of my body like a blueblack bruise of longing. I quaver, reading paragraphs about Trinidad or the Solomon Islands or Morocco, and want suddenly and fiercely to upend everything and just be off. I feel shaky in the everyday bushel basket of my life, as though with the least little jostle Iâ€™m apt to send all the fruit tumbling out, comparing myself first to one single friend and then to another set of friends, new lovebirds, who are still starry eyed virgins when it comes to living in the thick of love and family. I start checking the emergency exits and scribbling escape plans on bakery napkins while eating bagels with the two amazing guys who fill my days with their huge long-lashed eyes and easy grins.
I forget that right here, where we are, is a hard-won sweetness. I forget how much we have here : this house, with its hundred-year-old barn timbers and itâ€™s expanse of soapstone counters and farmers sink and honey colored floors, is something weâ€™ve only just acquired, with our bare hands and much love, and ounce after ounce of determination. I forget that this boy of ours, who stopped me the other day as I knelt in front of him on the kitchen floor, and said, â€œI like your earrings mama, theyâ€™re pretty,â€ as he fingered each abalone disk, is someone weâ€™ve known for just two short years. I forget how when weâ€™re right, weâ€™re right like the taste of a ripe summer peach.
I forget how our love stretches out on either side of us like the guy-wires that keep bridges and steeples and trapeze artistâ€™s hoops aloft. I forget how it has lasted, and I forget how it keeps guiding our lives back to safety and solace, or at least back to our bedroom where we make love in a hot furry of kisses. I forget that itâ€™s been almost eight years of knowing this man, of loving him, of laughing with him, and sometimes because I forget, I toss myself at odds against what we have made together. Then I fleck the pages of my days with tears and worry; I lie restless at night, I overanalyze and over-calculate and grow easily fragile and frantic like a bevy of startled quail.
So last night, belly to chest, listening to the sound of his heart beating and feeling the warmth of his skin rising up through the cotton of his shirt, we talked about our plans and our love. How for once, for the love of god, will I just settle down for a while and quit inadvertently sabotaging the entire thing because I need everything mapped out and planned to the nth degree before I can just let go and wing it?
He laughed when I kept telling him how I need him to remind me over and over again of what it is we want, here, now.
â€œBecause I forget,â€ I said.
Itâ€™s true, I really do.
So he looked at me with his languid topaz colored eyes and told me again: We want to settle here for a few years, make a garden, keep chickens, gather a big circle of friends close, and become a small but certain cog in the wheel of our community.
Every fiber in my being hums in resonance. Yes, I want this. But also this: that after giving it a fighting chance, we can up and off into the wild blue yonder if thatâ€™s still what our fancy craves.
Heâ€™s game for that too, my big muscled Italian with his espresso habit and his guitar melodies. Game for living in Italy for a year, or exploring the beach towns of California or Hawaii. But for now, here, itâ€™s almost spring and we have a garden to plan.