Three Years (and one day) Ago

On the evening of July 22, 2006, Brad and I were married beneath the south face of Mount Superior.

What a blessing, to share this life with a man I love, respect, adore, learn from, teach, laugh with, and lean on.

Our wedding, a gorgeous and generous gift from my parents, was beautiful and casual; friends played banjos and guitars as I walked down the aisle, a local Mexican place catered, we drank margaritas and Two Buck Chuck.

I loved it. As you can see from this photo*, we had fun.

Our boys were in the wedding, too, with varying degrees of psyche.

Arnie couldn't wait to become a family:

Red had his doubts:

Our dear friend Bill is with us in the first photo. We asked him to marry us, and he got ordained through a “church” on the Internet for the occasion. He offered thoughtful words of advice, two of my closest friends read poems, we exchanged the vows we’d written together, and it was done—-a quick ceremony without much fanfare or fancy.

Lots of people say, "I married my best friend." I probably said it, too. From where I sit now, though, I see that what I knew of Brad when I married him was just a fraction of who he is.

I knew he was kind, but I didn't know the extent to which he'd sacrifice for the people he loves. I knew he was driven, but I'd never seen the stoic focus he can muster when he needs it. I knew he loved animals, but I didn't know how much they loved him back, how easily they let him into their worlds.

About a week ago, hiking to a climbing area in Mammoth Lakes, we noticed a disturbance in a shrub.

"It's a chipmunk," I leaned in for a closer look. "And he's caught on something!"

Brad inspected the little guy, who was still flailing desperately.

"He's caught in fishing wire!" He said, acting fast and throwing a sweatshirt over the chipmunk to calm him down (amazingly, it worked; he stopped scurrying). I ran over to some fishermen and asked to borrow their knife. By the time I'd returned, Brad had removed the sweatshirt, and was crouching low next to the chipmunk, who was calm and staring up at us. I handed Brad the knife, and he'd reached down and freed the chipmunk before the poor thing even had time to get scared.

"Problem solved," Brad said, stuffing his sweatshirt back into his pack and handing me the knife.

He's something special. Many times, like when I see the delight in Arnie's face when Brad comes home from work, or when I meet someone who knew Brad as a scrappy twenty-something who led a hard 5.10 on his first day of climbing, I am humbled that he chose me.

Three years (and one day) ago, I never would have imagined that I was marrying a man with the compassion of a Golden Retriever, the drive of a warrior, the loyalty of a Heeler, and peacefulness of a, um....sea otter? Giant tortoise? Manta ray?

Or maybe, in my heart, I did know. Maybe that's why I felt--and continue to feel--so lucky.

*All photos courtesy of our dear friend Kolin.


And Now for Something Completely Different

One of things I love about poetry is how, on any given day, it can offer something different, something new.

At work today, glancing from my computer screen across my desk to my bulletin board, I caught sight of one of the many poems tacked there, a poem I know by heart.


It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That's why we wake
and look out -- no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

William Stafford

I’ve thought about this poem for many years, while running, while climbing, while falling asleep at night, while walking Arnie through the fields across the street from our house. I’ve even written about it here. But until this afternoon, I’d never seen the words “look out” as a warning or threat, I’d never read the phrase “wake and look out” with a sense of urgency or terror, as I did today.

Not that I was especially fearful today, not that this is the right interpretation of the poem…it’s just different, and I find that difference interesting.

The world of poetry, though, doesn't always translate to the real world, or, well, to my real world. I don't see things as objectively; religious differences anger me, bad fashion upsets me, even strange accents make my skin crawl.

I'm far from perfect; we all are.

After thinking about this for a little while, then surfing over to a couple other sites, I saw a reference on LibertyLondonGirl's blog that made everything click into place:

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio,” said Hamlet, “Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

And likewise, mine.

Hmmm...so even as our great bard wrote "common" poetry and plays in the face of great criticism, he taught his critics to be tolerant.

Maybe one day I'll learn to be as tolerant as the British monarchy.


Ew, Ah...

Things that make me sad:

Airport bars

Women who wear skinny jeans, fake tans and stripper heels well into their 40s. Or ever.

Ed Hardy apparel. I mean, come on people, really? With the graffiti and the bling?

Leaving Arnie and Red Dog for 10 days. Especially Arnie. Red appears to understand what's happening. Knows that my leaving him isn't permanent. Arnie doesn't seem to get it, and I think he thinks I've left him forever. Here's a photo illustrates their differing grasps on what's happening in the world.

Things that give me joy:

Talking to Nicole and Lizzie who are caring for Arnie like he's one of their own.

Spending the 4th with Brad and my brother, who's become a climber!

Being on VACATION for the next 10 days!

Going to Santa Cruz.

Going to the ocean.

Going to the Hulk.

Going to Tuolumne.

I'm so excited.


All Good Things...

The Buddhists tell us that everything is temporary, and it’s a testament to my perspective that this idea terrified me when I first heard it, but comforts me now.

During my junior year in college, I took a class about the evolution of American Buddhism, and the idea of impermanence came up every Tuesday and Thursday, from 2:15 to 3:45. At the time, I didn’t like it one bit. My life was grand—Spring in college town? Please, how could it not be?—and I hated to think that everything I knew, and loved, would come to an end.

I took comfort in thinking that the Buddhists were probably talking about impermanence on a larger scale. Like, all human life will end someday—the Earth will explode or there’ll be another ice age (not bloody likely in Utah in July)—but my life will have ended long before that, so I didn’t need to worry about breaking up with my boyfriend (a hippie whose handle was Dingo) or not going to that evening’s drum circle.

Now, though, I take comfort in knowing that everything—even experiences exclusive to me—is impermanent. The pain I’m feeling over the loss of a friend? That will pass. Stress at work? That will pass. Passive-aggressive bullshit from people just trying to get under my skin? That will pass.

And the good stuff, too—the high I get after a hard workout, the feeling of wearing a new dress, the joy I feel when I make Brad laugh—will also come to an end. The challenge for me lies in recapturing those feelings. Yes, this particular workout is over, but I’ll have a chance to exercise again tomorrow, so I don’t need to be sad when this high fades.

I read this quote a few weeks ago:

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning."*

A month ago, it would have meant nothing to me. But a few weeks ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Brad and I went to our neighborhood pool, and I swam a mile (off the couch), just to see if I could.

It didn’t start out that way, though. It started with a quick 500-meter swim.

“I just swam a 500,” I told Brad, who was reading on a towel in the grass.

“Go swim more,” he replied without looking up.

“But a 500 is pretty far! I haven’t swum for a year!” I wanted props, awed disbelief. I wanted to impress.

“I heard you. Good for you. But you can do more.” He remained unmoved by my athletic prowess.

Instead of getting annoyed, I thought, “I probably can do more. Maybe I should try another 500.”

So I did. And then I swam another, and after a few more laps, I’d swum a mile.

After the first 500, I thought I was finished, but it turns out, I wasn’t even halfway done. And later that night, when the high from the effort faded, I wasn’t sad; I was content and looking forward to the next day.

Maybe the impermanence didn’t scare me that night because I had gone beyond my own expectations. Maybe those self-imposed barriers—often more impenetrable than steel—are as temporary as pain, as grief, as joy, as love.

*Louis L’Amour