It’s late September – I’ve just noticed the calendar – I mean really looked at it in a way that says the year is almost gone. The crepe myrtle outside my office window are still confused and blooming when late July and all of August is their time for glory. The Chinese tallow trees are still green, but here and there some of their leaves are dipped in crimson contrast. There’s a bit of a subtle golden sheen to the grasses, and every now and then a chilly wind comes from nowhere. Just a few inches off the soil, this cold shallow breath of winter nags at me.
I am beginning to understand why they call this the “autumn” of Life; after the children are grown and gone, but all the noise and effects of their presence lie in shards of silence everywhere you look. Like unraked leaves soon to be shed by seasonally confused trees, it’s a time to pause. I’ve never cared for a “Hold” button, but now I’m beginning to see why they are so integral to a marriage, a career and a lifetime. We all need time to see in depth what really was, beyond all the pretense of being family, beyond the hurry of other people’s schedules, beyond our own insane expectations.
Time to “clear the closets” in all manner of speaking. I’ve also realized in many ways that I’m taking an inventory of my own personal feelings within human relationships as I prepare to make other changes in our later years. Words, phrases, the little things that we do for one another take on a deeper, richer meaning. He’s always been more than “husband” – he is my lifemate, he is my beloved, he is my companion through the roughest storms any couple can handle and still stay together. Promises that we made to one another on a foggy April morning almost a quarter century ago have become more, as have we. I realize that I am more than “wife” to him, and have been for a very long time. We had learned to complete one another’s sentences, I can buy him graphic t-shirts that he adores because I know and adore all his quirks. He reads what I write, often before I’ve completed the creation.
In all of this he holds me. He gathers me up into the shelter of his taller, wider self to remind me, “You know I love you, never forget this. You are not alone.” When I despair of the words that I need to complete the landscape of intent, he quiets my sobs by saying, “You are my beloved. What you need is right there, and right here, too. Go and do this. You know you can.”
Sometimes I think that we do ourselves a huge disservice by painting romance as all hearts and flowers and long contented sighs. It is so much more than the deep kisses and gentle caress of one lover’s hand on the other’s skin. We need to remind ourselves that there are shared spirits and emotions; that somewhere in the building of a relationship there is a compromise that occurs. We need to be reminded that even the best of us can go from asset to asshat in 2.3 seconds given the right coercion.
I miss the long friendships that I had with other women. Thanks to the economic upheaval of 2008, my last ‘bestie’ lost her home, her business and nearly her mind. This was the sort of relationship that women need – someone who knows where ‘all the bodies are buried’ because she helped you dig the hole. You know each other’s tastes, you have a history together, and when the worst comes you allow each other the grace, place and space to grieve. When the best comes around, you protect her back in case some jealous ass wants to steal her time in the spotlight.
Finally, the children begin to have lives and histories all their own that they weave in incredible color and texture and joy right in front of you. You see where they are going to make a colossal, intractable knot and despite warnings and the itch to take the threads from their hands, you let them. You also observe as they take threads and influences from their beloveds and friends and incorporate this into their lives as well. What was just a tapestry becomes a work of art all on its own with an inner light and a symphonic soundtrack that dances in the eyes of all around.
My inner landscape is beginning to echo the outer one now, standing on the verge of a seasonal change. The first storms that herald the turning of the Great Wheel have passed, and as I take the mental broom to the sidewalks and patios of my inner house, the outer home settles into Autumn’s Light. Let there be joy in the contentment of finding a place in lengthening shadows and deepening twilight.
So be it.