There’s a depth of snow around Paul Lake that’s like the way time comes to feel when the accumulation slows enough to let you see it for what it is. There’s clarity to things. Everything is thrown into detail by virtue of the stark background that becomes its canvas. It’s what life comes to mean when you’ve hung around long enough for reflection. The country of our living; known, inhabited, articulated.
My wife and I have been together for 10 years. We met on the Internet. The site we were on allowed pictures but neither of us posted one. Instead, we looked for those who could communicate, those who weren’t afraid to speak of themselves. Even though I obfuscated, lied, really, there was enough of the spirit of me to attract her.
We emailed for a short time. We spoke on the telephone. Through voice and the written word we began to comprehend the person without seeing the face or the body. It was exciting. We were both in our late 40s and the anticipation we stoked was like teenage infatuation all over again.
It was a Saturday morning when we finally met. To be precise it was 10:32 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2003. It was a chilly, foggy day in Vancouver. She came to pick me up to go for a walk and coffee. When I opened the door and saw this lovely petite creature with long blond hair and wondrous eyes,
I thought my heart would fall out of my chest.
So we drove to a Starbucks in Vancouver’s West End. Then we drove to Jericho Beach and leaned on one of the giant beached logs and gazed around at the fog and the ghostly outline of downtown Vancouver. We talked. We introduced ourselves in person for the first time and we agreed to get together again.
Both of us had been put into foster care as toddlers. Both of us had been adopted into ultimately sad family situations. Both of has endured abuses. So right from the beginning we understood each other and the baggage that life sometimes forces you to trundle along the path to becoming the person you were created to be.
The last 10 years have been hard sometimes. It took a long time for me to learn to come to grips with the PTSD that drove my alcoholism and my immense pain. I fell. I stood up. We cried and then got onto the business of loving each other through anything and it has been my wife who has shown me the way to the truth of myself. I understand what courage, loyalty, compassion and forgiveness are because of her.
I like to think that she has learned from me, too.
I tell my friends that my history began that foggy Vancouver morning. See, the truth of life is that you can always create another history if you don’t like the one you have. You just have to be willing to lurch forward with new and unfamiliar tools. You have to be willing to use them to build that newer, better history one day at a time. Starting now.
The country of a marriage is like the scene from our front window. It’s to be recognized and known detail by detail. It’s coming to understand that the storms of life leave contrast that allows you to really see the landscape of your living. It’s to come apart. It’s to find each other again. It’s to be known so you can know yourself. I wouldn’t have it any other way.