Come to My Windows
When we got married, we were on a very tight budget. Our wedding was a bare bones affair that we paid for mostly by ourselves. It wasn't going to be the wedding of my dreams, but it was okay, becuase the man I was marrying was.
He surprised me with a honeymoon to Europe. We spent 4 days in London and 4 days in Paris, and though it was really just enough to whet my appetite for adventure, it was one of the happiest times of my life.
We were young and in love. We were carefree and naieve. We were seeing the world. SIGH.
But there was so much more to come. So, so much more. And though perhaps it wouldn't hold the same romance as a European honeymoon, there was and is plenty of happiness and contentment to be had right at my own doorstep; in the comfort and familiarity of my home and my safe, comfortable little life.
Jen is doing a theme/meme thing she has dubbed "The Seven Windows of My Soul". And though I think that this exercise can be interpreted several different ways, for me it means, a window on places where my soul has soared freely with joy and contenment. A window on times when I was the most happy, the most satisfied.
Come to my windows now. Think of me here, think of me there. Think of me young, think of me old, think of me before children, and think of me in the throes of motherhood. It's all been a part of who I am; a part of filling and nurturing my soul.
1. Paris, Montmartre, September 1993.
My new husband and I stand atop Sacre Coeur at sunset, watching the sun slip behind the Paris skyline. The twinkling lights of the city of love sparkle like diamonds in the the slowly diminishing light. We can see the Eiffel tower soaring proudly above everything else; an iron finger pointing to the heavens, which are streaked with golden fire. We nibble strong tasting fromage that we bought at a small shop at the base of the hill, and we toast our new life with the bottled water we stuffed into our touristy backpacks. Cheesy and perfect, that moment. The happiness that I felt then was pure and untainted by worry. The rest of our lives lay before us like a blank page, our history still unwritten.
2. London, Tower Green, September 1993.
Husband and I stand on the spot where Anne Boleyn, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Lady Jane Gray, Katherine Howard and Lady Jane Rochfort were executed. It's a sobering thought. I am standing where Kings, Queens and foreign dignitaries have stood; William the Conqueror, Charles II, Elizabeth 1 and many other great personages. The day is bright and sunny, but cold fingers from a time long past reach out and coax goosebumps to the surface of my skin. I feel awed and small. It is what we have come here for, to forge some connection with those who went before us; flawed people like us, but great people nonetheless.
3. An April morning, 1995.
Husband is in the shower getting ready for work. He is whistling something I don't recognize. I smell soap and steam. The birds are waking from their slumber and I inhale the green that is slowly staking it's claim on the landscape. The bed is warm, my belly is large. I stretch and roll over to ease the ache in my back. There is a popping sensation and warm fluid gushes forth. It is too early and my first impulse is to call to husband, but something makes me wait. I take a moment to savor my last moments of pregnancy before the agony of labor sets in. Inside me, my baby is still safe, but we will be one for only a short time longer he and I. He squirms in anticipation. And then, when I have satisfied myself that the moment and the feeling is branded into my memory, I summon husband to the bedside. "We are going to meet our baby today." I tell him.
4. A campsite in the Appalachian mountains, Summer 1996.
The remnants of a mid summer rain patters gently on the roof of our tiny pup tent. The air inside the womblike interior is warm with our mingled breaths, my husband is pressed agasint me, toasty and solid. The first brushstrokes of dawn are being painted across the sky and someone in our party is already up stoking the fire and putting on coffee. We have left the baby for the first time with relatives and I do not have to jump up to meet his demands. I revel in my laziness, glad of the freedom. But I appreciate the ache of missing him. Later that day, as we careen down a class 5 rapid and then overturn, I feel very alive. It's that exhiliration that I carry with me in my memory. The sheer gladness of existing.
5. A Doctor's Office, Fall, 1998.
It is chilly, and my deceptively chubby infant wails with distress in his diaper and socks. I wrap him in a blanket and try to comfort him until the doctor arrives. It seems like a long time, but it isn't really. The worry only makes the wait seem interminable. Husband paces nervously. I bounce my fretting baby. When the doctor enters, he holds several sheets of x-ray film in his hand and a long piece of paper with spidery peaks and valleys inscribed upon it. He greets us, coos at the baby and then without preamble he says confidently, "The VSD has closed. He won't need open heart surgery." I'm not sure I've ever been more relieved in my life than I was at that moment. It's that day that I call forth when my patience with him is at an end.
6. Wisconsin, Christmas 2002.
It is snowing, big, fluffy flakes that insulate the air and make it seem as if the world begins and ends right where you stand. My children 7 and 4, have never seen snow like this before. They twirl with their faces tilted upward and tongues outhrust. I see in them all the joy and wonder that I experienced as a child and I cherish the purity of their enjoyment. It's such a simple pleasure, but one they rarely get to experience. I'll remember that trip forever. We went sledding in the park where I played as a child. We must have made a million trips up and down that hill, and even when their legs would scarcely hold them up any longer, they begged for just one more ride down. It's a day that nobody wanted to end. And in my memory, it never does.
7. Charleston, SC, July 2007
My Husband is wrestling with a shark. The boys watch with their breaths held deep in their lungs and their eyes wide with excitement. The fishing line whips from side to side as the shark tries to dislodge the vicious hook in it's mouth. Husband's arms bulge with effort, he is completely focused on the pole in his hands. Finally the shark tires and husband is able to haul him into the boat. It's a bonnet head, about 20 lbs. It looks impossibly large in the small boat, and terribly distressed. It's tail thrashes from side to side and the boys squeal with horrified glee. The captain of the small craft assists husband in weighing the shark, but one powerful swipe of it's tail sends it crashing to the floor of the boat, free from their grasp.
The boys and I shriek and run to the other side of the boat, causing it to list dangerously to port. Husband and Captain Jim struggle to subdue the terrified shark, and Husband sustains a nasty scrape on his calf from the shark's sandpaper like hide. But the shark is exhausted and his struggles subside in just a few moments. Soon the hook is removed from his mouth and he is tossed overboard to freedom. He swims briskly away. The boys cheer. Later, on the ride home, dirty, wet and exhausted, they are full of chatter about their adventure. They say, "That was the best time we EVER had, Dad." And later still, in the small rented condo, I hear them whispering long into the night, far too exhilirated to sleep. I feel proud to have given them such a perfect day, a perfect memory.
So there are seven windows into my soul. Moments that have made me who I am, moments that will be with me until the day that I die. Moments that give me perspective and clarity in times of distress and uncertainty.
What are your seven windows?