Right now I am writing on the beach. It's dark, Bon Iver is playing from the stereo on the back patio and a smell of campfire is being blown by the crashing waves into my direction. My friends and husband are inside the glowing cabana behind me, cleaning up the spectacular dinner we had of grilled burgers, fresh fruit and slightly blackened summer vegetables. They're laughing, I can hear the echos.
This is our second annual Couple's Retreat on San Juan Capistrano, California. Our children are all being safely shepherded by family back home and we're using this time to do nothing. Nothing includes, sitting on the beach, swimming in the surf, eating and rinse and repeat. Those are our choices. Also, Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and my personal favorite, Vanilla Coke with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Awhile ago I received a text from someone at a blogger's conference, "Why aren't you here?" it read, "these are your people." I've thought a lot about that phrase "these are your people." First, is it okay to "have" a people? And second, if I have a people they probably aren't motivated enough to go to blogger conferences. They're probably more like me, drawn to experiences of unabashed indolence. My people like to do nothing.
Of course, we've had some pretty intense discussions. I think we feel like if we're going to be physically lazy we can't be intellectual lazy too. So we're lounging and yapping. Our different backgrounds--photography, writing, acting, music, cooking, advertising, education and computer engineering--all makes us an eclectic group with different things to say. In full disclosure, it's a near-perfect vacation.
Last spring I promised the good people of the Stronger Marriage Blog that I would write a guest post for them. Though I've thought and thought about what I'd write on marriage, I've never solidified an actual post. I asked my friends on this retreat to help me with the composure process by asking them, "Why did you get married?" Jed Wells was the first to respond (only I didn't want to post his because his writing makes mine feel anemic) here's his response:
I was 16 when I was given a glimpse of my future with Jayne. It was a blurry glimpse, absent of detail and clouded by impression. I've heard stories of people being bitten by snakes, their descriptions of paralysis and the heat coursing into their limbs. That's what it was like, but less painful.
Jayne was the nicest young person I'd ever met when the notes we passed in the halls between classes turned into lengthy epistles. She was funny, too. And recently blooming into her young womanhood. I could find her face among the thousands as we shuffled between the lockers, and when she slowed to hand me a letter, the dull flurry of color behind my ribs exploded and shivered in my cheeks and finger tips. I slipped into a bathroom stall and inhaled the perfume that had escaped her wrists as they slid across the paper.
Jayne was on her way down to play the piano for the choir. There was nothing remarkable about the day or the song, but the choir broke into a spontaneous applause as she walked to the front of the room. She demurred and probably blushed. And something stung me under my sternum, and the venom was hot and pleasant, and it stole the life out of my arms and legs. She moved in slow motion and the kids around me slowed down too and their clapping hands stopped making any noise. The picture of my life with her painted itself in broad washes of warm color. And I knew that we would be married forever.
I've been addicted to Jayne for a long time. I need to be near her. I am dependent on the way she makes me feel. Getting married was the surest way of being closer to her than to any other human. And as an addict, I sometimes feel like I was robbed of the choice to be with her. It was presented to me as a necessity to my happiness and I embraced it as such. And happiness feels like such a hollow word next to what it's like with her.
The other night over dinner we mourned the excitement of passing each other in the halls at school. It wasn't that long ago that her letters twisted me into knots and sneaking a kiss in the auditorium gave me a high that should have been illegal, but some days it feels like a lifetime ago. But trade that for the peace of waking up next to her? Of raising the kids with her that we made together? Trade it for nights in tears about bills or the loss of a job, the white-knuckled prayers on our knees together? If I could have another first kiss in exchange for a second of what we have now, I wouldn't take it.
Never. No never, no never.