The Before / L'avant
Four guys. Four hopeless, swift progressions toward heartbreaking free fall. I group them together as a matter of practicality. They were all so desperate, so rushed, so forced that their edges blur together and it’s increasingly difficult to remember precise moments with any one of them. They were equally bizarre picks, equally hedonistic, equally cruel. They go so perfectly together, these four, like a neat carton of turned eggs–matching shells, matching interiors---efficiently counted by the dozen.
Right Before / Juste avant
I left France as if I were fleeing a burning building, with the the smoke of my disastrous entrance into my 20s clinging to my hair and clothes. I thought I could remake myself in France, the farthest place imaginable from home. What a joke! That cramped, glaringly white room ("flat") at the top of such an old, weary building. My spinning head. My tiny gutter-rimmed windows facing north and west. It’s comical how my loneliness has stalked me, pinning me in perfect traps of isolation. I'm afraid of solitude so I travel to the other side of the world where no one speaks my language or knows of me at all. Cute move, loneliness. You cheat, but I must say the tactics are effective.
For those long months I was an awkward ghost haunting tediously boring spaces with ambivalent strangers passing hurriedly to my right and left. I ran mental endless loops of thought--"I'm not enough; I'm not trying hard enough." Again and again. All of those hours and strangely all that I have left are minor impressions: shopping for fig biscuits; walking 2 miles to the farmer’s market; watching the sun sink from my lonely window; reading Henry James curled up in bed, too depressed to move.
I came home devestated and defeated. For two weeks, I hid in my small duplex: covered windows, sitting on a lumpy futon enveloped in piles of soft, white comforters. Lots of coffee. I wore a lot of black. I cut my hair. I caked on smokey eyeshadow and read brooding literary paperbacks in countless cafes. I gave up dating entirely.
I guess it could have continued like that indefinitely. It probably should have. But praise God it didn’t.
And then / et puis
I met you by circumstance--rain pouring down on a long Monday evening. I picked you out right away but I had sworn off dating and suppressed the instant desire to meet you. You were a head taller than the rest of the room---kind of impossible to overlook. You talked to me. I avoided you even though I liked you and yet you pursued.
Our love moved fast. Probably too fast and definitely foolishly. You bought me expensive jewelry. I bought you the first iPhone. We got engaged in the winter, married in the spring, pregnant in the fall, and had our first child in the summer of 2010. I was an idiot our first two years of marriage and you probably were a little bit too. But oh the joy in bring an idiot with you, love!
And now / et maintenant
I love our little moments. I love stroking your hair as we watch Cabin Kings with our two giggling boys. We're not glamourous but we pursue. We're not model parents, pet owners, Christians, employees, tenants, friends, siblings, or children. Often our kids have holes in their jeans or are missing all of their shoes and have only had cupcakes for breakfast. But my dear, there's a whole lot of love in this heart and it just keeps growing more and more each year for you. Happy 6 years, mon cher. I thank God constantly for you. May He give us many, many more together!