Friday, January 30, 2009

joyeux anniversaire, cher

hello! (she says sweetly, quietly, not wishing to disturb what looks to be peaceful sleep and sweet, sweet dreams.)

what holds your mind's eye as one year ends and another one begins?

i am here, right where you left me ... stringing words together, like christmas lights, watching them shine brightly in the dark and listening to you breathe.

happy birthday to you ... the boy who says impossible things that i believe. what do you wish for? what can i give you that you don't already have? off-the-cuff compliments? adjectives? a conversation on paper? an impossible encounter that lives in the imagination and somehow becomes reality?

what will you give yourself?

the wisest of men know that real birthdays are not annual affairs ... they are the days when we experience a rebirth; so that while we may grow older in years, we are newer every day. this, i know, is not news to you. you already know this life is a constant, gradual process ... a subtle play of light and texture and shadows, measured in centuries and inches. it is about kindness and passion and potential and temperance ... extremes of temperature, folding, pounding, turning ourselves inside-out, and bringing out the gold hidden within.

my wish for you is that you'll fly free and happy ... beyond birthdays and across forever ... and that throughout our long lives, you and i will meet ... when we wish... in the midst of the one celebration that never can end.

happy birthday, darling boy. i hope you spend the day in the company of the people you love and who love you the most. and i hope the day gently breezes into your life carrying with it all the choicest of things and all that your heart holds dear.

i am ever so glad you were born.

a kiss ... and another ...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

if i could have married liz ...

it's been a few months since your wedding, but there isn't a day that goes by that i don't wish i could have been there. even as it would have been impossible for me to stand before you, seeing you both all dressed up in your love and your finery, and not get all mushy … it would not only have been an honor, it would have been a great, grand pleasure to marry you, my friend.

if i could have married you, i'd have said that anyone who knows you, knows that together you and tony are the best versions of yourselves. you can be brave and silly and sincere all at once. you try when you don't feel like it … and you say what you mean and you almost always mean something that's all about being true and right and good.

if i could have married you, i'd have said that anyone who knows you also knows that you found each other in the best way … in that delicious, heady mix of friendship and flirting and dancing around the edges until it finally all falls into place … and you have built a relationship befitting such a beginning ... a relationship that encourages creativity and irreverence and an enthusiasm for life

if i could have married you, i'd have told you that i remember the day tony first told me he had a crush on you. i can remember it as clear as i remember all the words to 'copacabana.' tony and i were rehearsing a play, in shannon's slanting kitchen, and i was sitting at the table as he leaned against the counter and shannon took something out of the refrigerator and i remember thinking, 'he is perfect for her! … and his timing couldn't be worse.'

see, that was the winter of your discontent ... the summer you spent hurtling yourself through space; living your life like a fireball … burning and fast.

if i could have married you, i'd have reminded you how difficult it was to be near you, then - even as it remained incredibly easy to love you and to wish you the greatest of happiness … and as certain as i was that tony was the perfect match for you, i knew … and you knew, too … that you needed to fall in love with yourself, long, long before you could fall for anyone else.

if i could have married you, i would have gladly admitted that now, all these years later, as we've finally passed through the silly youngness of us, i am thrilled that you have finally discovered a love that has transformed you. two of them, in fact: the love you have for tony and the love you've finally allowed for yourself.

if i could have married you, i 'd have had to confess that it's such a strange thing for me, now … marrying people … because i know so well how things can unfold. having had such a public relationship dissolve backstage so spectacularly, i might be better suited to stand up and lecture on politics or nascar ... although, i'm not a fan ...

all the running around in circles, bumping and rubbing up against one another and pretending not to notice the damage … jockeying for position and sponsors and pandering to the idiots in motor homes camped out in the middle of it all. it makes me wonder if it's possible to persuade people to embrace a sense of urgency that is not circumscribed by self-interest. it makes me wonder if there is anything that can move us to take stock of the present moment – this moment, here and now – and consider how our power to make things anew can be shared with others. it makes me wonder if i have what it takes to undertake a new beginning. do i even know what that is?

(i hope i do. i think i must, or i wouldn't be writing tonight.)

how does it all begin? and why? is it something primal? something whispering deep in the bones or genes, 'that one.' the old darwinian shuffle showing us a few steps we haven't heard about before ... a mindless certainty humming blithely along beneath our ignorance that ensures we would come together.

whatever the reason, i am impossibly grateful for that particular brand of evolutionary magic that brings us together - in a work place … in friendship … in love.

if i could have married you, i'd have been forced to admit that marrying people does not make me an expert on love; it does not make me a fortune teller. if i could have married you, i wouldn't have been able to stand before you and tell you that you won't feel rain or cold … that you won't know pain or loneliness … that things will always (or ever) be easy, because i don't know that that's true - it's not been my experience. but i do know that happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. it must be created.

and if i could have married you, i'd have let you in on a little secret … i'd have told you that as beautiful as it feels right now, being married sucks sometimes. and other times, it's spectacularly lovely. and in between, well, it's groceries and laundry and struggles for the remote control and kisses goodnight and passing in the hallway on your way to separate rehearsals.

it's matter of fact and magic all at once.

and, no matter what anyone tells you, the little things are the big things.

it is standing together facing the world. it is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. it is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. it is not looking for perfection in each other. it is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. it is having the capacity to forgive and to forget. it is giving each other an atmosphere in which each of you can grow. it is finding room for the things of the spirit and a common search for the good and the beautiful. it is creating a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.

but this, i know, is not news to you - or you wouldn't be where you are right now. and i wouldn't be where i am, either.

nope. i'll never pretend to be an expert - on love or marriage, but there are things that i do know:

i know that when you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. that is impossible. it is a disservice to pretend it might even be an option. yet, that is what most of us demand.

we have such little faith in the ebb and flow of life and of love and of relationships. we leap forward at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb ... afraid it will never return. we insist on permanence, on duration, on continuity. but the only continuity possible in love, as in life, is in growth, in fluidity and in freedom, as partners in creating the same pattern.

it is a choice you'll make every day.

and if i could have married you, i'd have told you that my great hope for you is that the love that you have for each other continue to grow and hold you close and that i hope every one of your dreams come true. but when they don't … i hope new dreams rise up to take their place, so that long, long years from now, you will be able to look at one another, just as you did that night, and be able to say, 'because of you, i lived the life i always wanted to live. because of you, i became the person i always wanted to be.'

i love you, liz. and if i could have married you, i'd have had to thank you over and over and over again for reminding me that while i am no expert, i am still a fan … of love, of marriage and of all the stuff that comes of and from and between the two sometimes.

and that i hope upon hope that someday, you'll be able to marry me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

for meg

darling meg...

we have a tradition in my family...a race, be the first to wish the birthday child a glorious i've slipped out of bed to be sure that you'll have a note not long after the day has arrived.

i hope you'll hear today from all the people who love you and who miss you and who wish they could be with you to tell you so in person.

for my turn, let me just say that i would be a very different person if you'd never been born. you've reminded me what it is to be strong and soft all at once; you always give me a good excuse to be silly and you've shown me that it's okay to be exactly who i am at any given moment - motherly, angry, goofy, shy, sweet, smart ...

you are a good egg, meg. you illuminate the world around you and i am lucky to bask in your glow.

funny, huh? it's your birthday, but i get the gift.

if there is anything you want ... anything you need ... that i can give to you ... ask and it shall be...

i'm so very glad you were born.


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