When you were 44, you fell in love with the young woman you had been. The one that used to embarrass you with her earnestness, her certainty. Do you still remember the day that you woke on the beach in Kaneohe with your head in the lap of another girl, and her tears falling on your face? Her tears woke you. The sun had dragged the top of its head over the horizon, and this girl would be leaving for college in two weeks. And while you were still working out what the tears meant, she dipped her face to yours and kissed you. Her face bathed by the sea and the sunrise and her tears. You were so in love that it was like remaining asleep. The girl bent over you. The ruin of your final years in high school, bereft of this girl, yet to come.
Only the kiss still matters. And the light as it exposed you.
For a time, you worried that you looked too hard for meaning. You worried about snowstorms, and fires, and cruelty. You worried about thick-necked dogs that charged from unlatched gates at your Jack Russell. You worried about your son’s heart. About his joy. Where was it? Where was his joy? You bought yourself so much trouble. Do you remember?
How you stood in a pasture in Ireland, in the dark, and let the woman tackle you. Let the muck swallow the two of you whole.
Is it odd, do you think, how much of our memories wear down to pure affection?
I have been married for eight years, and I cannot wait, every day, to speak to her. What will you remember best of this time?
The child in his trucker hats and sunglasses. The way he climbs from the car, shoulders his impossible backpack, and says, “Have a good day, loser.”
That year your wife began to buy dresses with silly animals on them. Unicorns and preening birds. Her hair bound with wooden sticks. Her vials of perfume scattered around the house like some disorganized apothecary where the sandalwood and the rose create a heady magic.
Do you remember how much joy a bowl of blueberries brought you?
When you were young, you kept a tally of everything. You tracked meaning. I love that about you now. How the deer would stand near the road, and watch you pass with their great and curious eyes. How you spoke to them, and waved. How the dogs hurry to you, and set their faces on your leg when you cry. You are loved so well and so thoroughly. You no longer wonder if you deserve it.
The wildness in you has become more fierce and more quiet.
You would never have believed, that morning on the beach, how the joy would ring from you. How much pleasure you would find looking back at your heartbreak most of all. Those times when you did not yet believe that pain would help you mark the past. That you would love the girl that could cry so hard when love was just beginning.