Thursday, April 19, 2012

Smoldering In This Man's Fire

Riding along
with my head on your shoulder
                          and feet out the window
the cotton woods rain white ashes
on the windshield of your Chrysler New Yorker
with the cigarette burns on the seats
We lose our selves on old country roads
that know each other so well not even

the locals really know where one ends

and the next begins
Out the passenger window
                      I can barely see
the green fields of next year's wheat
absorbing the last of this day's warmth
I watch you smoke with one hand,
the other draped around my bare shoulders
you steer with your left knee
and I wonder
where the ashes fall to
once they've escaped your fire
I wrote this poem in 2001, about my high school sweetheart.  It turns out that I never have found out what happens to those ashes, as I chose to stay smoldering in this man's fire.  Today is Tim and I's 9th wedding anniversary.  This makes me nostalgic.  It makes me pull out all his old love letters, and reread them over and over the way I used to when he first wrote them.

It makes me think of the day I met him, the dimple on his left cheek, those brown eyes of his and the soft curls that stuck out from the yellow ball cap he was wearing.  Our anniversary makes me think of good things, like the days spent on twisting country roads, on lake-sides and river banks.  It makes me think of how special I felt when he'd let me be the girl who sat on the back of his horse with him on Friday team penning nights at The Trail's End Arena.  
April 19th makes my mind go back, to many happy days, but it also brings memories of the hard ones.  I remember the last day I ever used methamphetamine, 11 years ago and how Tim saved my life by taking away my drugs and dragging me home to my mother even after I beat his pickup with a Louisville Slugger.  I remember all the days we've spent fighting poverty, the shame of debt, and I think of all the days my husband has, without fail, worked 8 or 10 or 15 hours of hard physical labor only to come home and take care of me after a surgery or back me up with the kids while I attended college.  Somehow even the hard and really truly terrible times of our lives seem worth nostalgia when I look back on them and have the gift of knowing we survived by sticking together.

On our wedding day I sat up in the little bridal dressing room waiting for the ceremony to start and people were buzzing in and out with a nervous energy  that made the building tremble.  I remember glancing down from my window and seeing Tim step out of the car as he arrived at the chapel.  He glanced around as he stood up in his tux pants and shirt and kind of flung his jacket over his shoulder as be began to turn to walk inside.  This snippet image of him is a visual that I have never forgotten because once I knew that he was there, I had no doubt, no nervousness, no worry at all.  All I felt was a sincere desire to spend the rest of my life with this man. 
I think that the reason that I found this calmness and certainty in the face of getting married at 19 years old because I had experienced this kind of a moment once before.  In November 1999, my best friend Jacquie had asked if she could bring a friend over to my house and I said yes.  I remember watching a young man pull in and park in front of our house in a beat up pickup truck and I saw him climb out in that yellow baseball cap.  In spite of the fact that November 1999 could be arguably classified as the worst month in my life, I remember that moment when I answered my front door and met Tim Zacharias very clearly.  I felt no doubt, no nervousness, no worry at all. All I felt was a sincere desire to spend the rest of my life with this man.  Thus, I suppose that the reality of the situation was that I had already said "I do" in my spirit many years before I donned my mother's wedding dress and walked down that aisle and listened to these words:
Love is patient and kind.
 Love is not jealous or boastful 
or proud  or rude.
 It does not demand its own way.
 It is not irritable, 
and it keeps no record of being wronged.   
It does not rejoice about injustice
 but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
  Love never gives up, 
never loses faith,
 is always hopeful,
 and endures through every circumstance.
In the nine years since our marriage began, we've accomplished a lot.  We've loved for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.  When I met Tim, we were 17 years old..  We're both nearly 30 now.  We aren't just spouses, we are people who grew up together, we're family.  We always will be, because I don't intend to ever escape this man's  fire.  
On our wedding day, minutes after Tim and I together lit a flame that symbolized the unity of our love and our life together, we listened to a family friend sing "The Keeper of the Stars."  I have to admit, that now that we are nearly a decade in to this marriage idea I am more convinced than ever that this was meant to be.   I still tip my hat to the keeper of the stars, he sure did know what he was doing when he joined these two hearts. And so, I leave you, my reader, with my father's happy wedding day toast, "Here's to the long ride and the sunny slopes!"

1 comment:

Pam Hall said...

Congratulations and may you grow very, very old together.