(I wrote this early in September and thought I’d lost it. Here it is now – a speck of sunshine to help alleviate the gloom.)
I am overcome. Overwhelmed, overthrown, overjoyed. I feel as though part of my self is over, and in its place exists something so sweet, so foreign, words elude me to describe it.
This summer has been magic. Practical magic for a summer of dreams. Nearly over, and yet in so many ways I feel my life has only just begun. I saw a window display for fall earlier, beautiful and blazing paper leaves in red and gold strung up with twine fell from the rafters, looking as temporary as the leaves outside themselves as they begin their somehow always unexpected transition into rest. My heart, my body, is ready to settle deep into the comfort of the shifting season. To warm itself with cinnamon and cider, to gather intimately around the spaces we find that will hold us all together and renew bonds of affection. For once, I’m looking forward to the holidays, and I fear no disappointment. How could I in such straits?
I spend a lot of time on social media. It’s how I get clients, stay in touch with friends around the world, and waste obscene amounts of time.
But something I’ve never been particularly good at is making sure there is photographic evidence of the fun I’m having at any given moment. I’ve gotten marginally better at it, at least taking pictures of my kids for far flung family members. As for pictures to prove I’m having a better time than you are and have a side of FOMO with that… Not so much.
But this summer was different.
Every other weekend or better, Daniel and I were on some new adventure, learning more about ourselves and each other in the process.
This summer was the most fun I’ve ever had, and there’s almost no evidence any of it happened. My usual forgetfulness of photo opps was exacerbated by being so completely absorbed by the present moment that interrupting it to take a photo would have cheapened it. The memories are enough.
There was learning to salsa. The teacher singled me out almost every class, commenting on the way I was dressed or my sass that won’t quit. I don’t blend in well. I learned to take cues, to follow first, to listen, and then to add flair.
There was the two nights in Seattle where a large tech company he was interviewing with put us up in a nice hotel, and then we went for a fancy dinner at a place where we ended up being the only ones dressed up. The courtyard had a beautiful little fountain, a tiny oasis of a place just removed from being under the overpass by I-5. Wine bottles filled the crannies and exposed wood beams gave the room a just rustic enough feel, carefully walking the line between pretentiousness and intimacy.
There was glamping in an old growth forest, exploring Olympia’s majestic, marble-floored buildings, singing around the fire pit I covered in tealights since we weren’t allowed to have a fire, riding bikes through trails that turned out to be really long driveways, having dinner in the first bar I’ve ever been in that was so sketch I grabbed Daniel’s hand and stepped behind his shoulder when everyone turned to look at us as we walked into the joint. There was lying there realizing just how much I cared about this person I was next to.
There was the poorly-planned camping trip where after calling around for over an hour, we finally found a spot to put our tent up at KOA. When we finally found the KOA on the opposite side of the lake we thought it was on, we entered another dimension where kids still play with all the other kids and roam around in a horde and sweet older campers invite you seven times to their ice cream social and it’s all so nice you can’t help but laugh over your grand misadventure.
Or the super lame dueling piano thing we went to and left when we couldn’t take the bachelorette parties next to us anymore. Or the restaurants we walked out of because life is too short to eat food you don’t want anyway. We started to see we could read how the other was feeling, give each other a glance, and get up and go. But this seemingly innocuous realization led to something else – the knowledge that the other one just… understood.
There was hiking, so much hiking, along the coast and through forests and to the tops of trails to find the best possible view. The conversations traveled as far as we did, adding previously-made memories to the weight of our packs and shifting them so they weren’t heavy.
There was planning a ridiculously involved series of clues of Daniel’s birthday that started with cupcakes, led through a library, ended up tangoing under blue skies, and ending up with a video that wasn’t what I expected but was somehow enough.
All summer long, there has been a delicious quiet interlaced into all of these moments, an ease I’ve never known. I only had to let go to find it. And now this is my normal. The thought of it fills me with awe.
You think you know what love is until you’re in the midst of the real thing. Then someone makes it so clear they believe in you that you start to see things about yourself you never knew were true. They treat you like a princess without ever once acting like you need saved because they already know you saved yourself.
This summer was about filling myself back up. It was about getting to be someone’s princess. It was about leaving space for yes, no, and learning to wait.
There are things I want to do. Travel, teach, get published, so many things. And I’m inching towards them, one tiny challenge at a time. And for now, that’s enough. This is enough.