This past weekend, J~ and I drove north, to a bed and breakfast near Northampton, Massachusetts, for a much-anticipated getaway. This was my stomping grounds nearly twenty years ago, when I first began to wrestle with my identity as an individual, as an adult.
On our first night in town, while I reminisced about the old days, not all of which were good-old days, J~ moderated a stressful extended family health-crisis/divorce drama via cell phone. We managed to enjoy each other's company over dinner, in spite of our hunger, exhaustion, and mutual anxiety, not to mention the excruciatingly slow service, the loud and crowded room, the somewhat too-sweet Asian-fusion fare, and the drift of our dinner conversation into the state of the world and the tragic plight of so many of its peoples.
We stopped spontaneously on a busy sidewalk afterward, with sirens and traffic and cold wind and people all around, marveling that in the midst of all the chaos and violence and pollution and eager angst, we can still find a peaceful oasis within each other's gaze.
Last time I was in Northampton, I was still working out who I wanted to be, sorting out where I'd come from, and developing the internal fortitude to find happiness without guarantee of more happiness to come. Until this trip, I've always thought about my relationship with J~ in the context of my relationship with A~, comparing the two versions of my married life. In both cases, my primary relationship focus is the man. But suddenly I saw the even more primary relationship -- with myself -- and its much longer and more solidly upticking evolutionary curve. I realized afresh just how constant and unpredictable is the phenomenon of change.
However fleeting the moment may be, I thought, the moment is all we have.
So we ducked into a jewelry store, partly because it suprised us to find such a shop open until nine -- we had to experience it to believe it; partly for the atmosphere (it was quiet and warmly lit, with high ceilings and ornate woodwork -- a long-ago bank lobby); but mostly to look at wedding rings.
In the next two days, I took J~ to my favorite restaurants (India House, and Paul and Elizabeth's), on my favorite hikes (up Mount Norwottuck, and through the pine forest behind Hampshire College), and on a walking tour of downtown Amherst and Northampton. We returned to the jewelry store, this time with purpose, picking out a matching pair of simple, not-too-shiny white-gold bands, which will be custom-made and mailed to us in the next few weeks.
We can't wait to wear them.
In the meantime, there is Thanksgiving.
Speaking of which, thanks to all of you who wrote me with congratulations on the wedding, and appreciations for this blog. It means a lot to me to hear from you. Wishing you the best this holiday.