It’s been a long, cold lonely winter
It feels like years since it’s been here.
“Here Comes the Sun,” The Beatles.
“Do you ever just put your arms out and just spin and spin and spin? Well, that’s what love is like; everything inside of you tells you to stop before you fall, but for some reason you just keep going.”
Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman
I remember it so well and the weather today is helping. Summer 2008. I had not dated in nine and a half years–the grind of grad school, publishing and raising three kids had taken precedence. And it should have.
But I was lonely.
It was sweltering. Late July, sweat running in and out of strange places and doing strange chemistry in all of them. My teen boys were coming undone, having come back to Alabama from an alien run of professorship in the midst of summer, and rarely home. So there I was. A teacher without a class, waiting for fall. Waiting.
The night I called for him, it was just my sister and I on the porch. (So many magical things happen on porches in the South.) I carefully wrote my list, no longer afraid to get what I was asking for:
1. Loyal, beyond normal reasoning.
2. Kind and good to my children.
3. Funny and creative.
5. Spiritual and accepting of my path.
And the list went on and on. It was an old, Southern spell: write down 100 things you want in your mate. Sleep on it. The next day, knock the list down to 50. Continue until you get your top 10. Bury with rose petals next to a blessed tree close to your home. Wait.
Magic is strangely, belligerently simple. What we call “loopholes,” it often uses to run energy along and through by determined currents. My loophole? Well. I had forgotten age. I had forgotten income. But: I damn skippy had not forgotten the meat of the thing. And so . . .
There he stood one week later, bouncing at a local bar in a black t-shirt and making me feel like a cradle-robbing cougar for noticing. I was forty-two, he was twenty-seven and looked younger. The details of what came next are fairly private: it was hot that summer. Why, even the bees vibrated at night, the pines were taller and our mosquitos looked like aircraft carriers. And what was happening in our little town was nothing short of an epic throw-down between desire, will and a fat dose of temporary insanity. No one was immune.
I had whipped up a tornado. Dogs howled, folks lost their damn minds and I reckon part of that one is on me, magically speaking. Some might still blame their own misbehavior and shenanigans on my little “unleashing” of passion in 2008. Might, I dunno. Mayhap we are all, in the end, accountable for our own hot mess.
But in the end? Love won. He knelt on crunchy orange leaves in October, a simple leather ring on a napkin, and asked me to risk my nice, solid, boring life for one that regarded valleys and truth over financial security and a 401k. On December 6th, two women officiated what we later affectionately deemed: The Redneck Magic Potluck Wedding. A seventies-tastic soundtrack wore our stomping feet into the wee hours.
I ended up in jeans–on account of you can’t get down hiking up a dress. And, even now, I can hear that song winding in and out of a December night:
Summer romance, spinning into Yule, bringing back the taste of magic with the return of the sun. And that is what it all was.
The return of the sun. I had waited so long to love again. So long, thinking no one would ever accept my weird, love my strange. Holding out all those years, waiting. I walked down the aisle to:
While my dear German friend belted her heart out, sick as a dog. Because that’s what it was.
Magic. Pure, chaotic, purposeful, unadulterated magic.
Tonight, we celebrate our anniversary with two of the dear friends that attended that blessed eve. Two other couples, just as dear and present that night in 2008, are still very much in our lives–celebrating our friendship with as much vehemence as the sun returning after a long passage through a wintery hell. Those of whom we have lost were not meant for this kind of day: warmth against ice, faith against circumstance, light drowning out the darkness. And tonight, I want you all to celebrate with me, and my love, and remember something pure you might have left in the colors and naiveté of your childhood:
Love. Always. Wins.
Blessed Be. May you all resist settling for what may be and cast for what you deserve. Ask yourself: are you willing to stay safe?