And Stories

Here is what happens when too much time has passed since I last wrote something: there is so much to write about that I don't know where to begin. The stories, not unlike the debris we gather around us all the time, get all cluttered up in my head and heart and I become overwhelmed. Do I write about moving into a new home? About my fascination with a particular gravestone in the cemetery beside this house, with the name Silence Sheldon?

Do I write about the sorrow of missing my sons? About Coco making a lime tart last weekend and borrowing limes from her Auntie Margaret, who owns a restaurant we can now walk to, through the cemetery across the street and down the hill and through the woods? In my head I have a snapshot of Coco making that trek, with a bag slung across her body, wearing her chef's apron, to Auntie Margaret's restaurant. Though Margaret isn't technically her aunt, they love each other so much that it doesn't matter. Even though I became divorced from her brother-in-law at least fifteen years ago, we continue to open our arms and our kitchens and families and hearts to one another, for one good reason: love.

Do I talk about the magical ideas some good folks and I are imagining here in this little community, that involve feeding hungry people and sharing in the bounty of this rich valley and collecting stories from our elders? Should I write that I met a young woman the other evening whom I am secretly hoping my son, Sam, will come home and marry? I don't care that he's a freshman in college and he's across the country and she's a little older than him; I know a good thing when I see it and I don't want it to get away.

There are a couple of things happening that it's not quite time to write about yet, in regards to my Brett and his beautiful music and how a friend of a friend heard his music and decided he wanted to make a record with him, in a pretty town down in Tennessee. I could talk about that and how it's taking on this whole other life, how there's a community growing up around this record plan thing and how it's...well...I'll be writing more about that very soon. You'll just have to wait on that.

These past weeks have been the weirdest time of change, settling into this home, painting and unpacking boxes and getting used to where things know that thing where you have to relearn where all the light switches are in a new space, and you find out what the light looks like in the morning and whether the neighbors are quiet or noisy. 

Most of my neighbors are dead, so it's very quiet here, on Cemetery Hill.

I could talk about some things I've returned to recently: photography and the classroom. I've been spending time back in schools in the company of kids; they're as funny as ever. And taking photos of graduating seniors; they're as confused as ever.

I'm tempted to talk about my friend, Lauren, and how much I am wanting her to launch a pie business, and how our friend, Courtney, is using her immense talents organizing concepts and scheming on Lauren's behalf. I could talk about my brother and his latest creative ideas and his wife and the incredible idea she's imagining and how much fun it is to talk about these kinds of things: taking our talents and the things we love to do and the things we are good at and figuring out how to manifest them in the world in some kind of meaningful (and delicious) way.

I could talk about the gigantic pumpkins that Coco's godmother, Auntie Jan, grew, and how much fun it was to stand on top of a pumpkin.

See what I mean?

It's my own fault.

The writing gets away from me, sometimes, when I am in the depths of strong emotions, in this case, missing Sam and Nate, very much. Missing looking at them and hearing them say funny things, missing them on Wednesdays, which became Burger Night for us last year. Sam would drive in from Burlington and meet Nate and Coco and me at Archie's Grill in Shelburne and we would sit and eat together. I miss that. I miss the awful roar of Sam's fancy car, because it meant that you knew that Sam was coming, that he was close. I miss their tallness and their voices. I miss bringing coffee and egg sandwiches to Sam and his crew, wherever they happened to be working that day. I know new things come, and I know they'll be home for the holidays, but I just miss them, and it's hard to write when my heart is feeling that way.

Yesterday morning, though, I met with the young couple that I'm going to marry this afternoon at the little stone chapel on Mt. Mansfield. They were so sweet and so kind to each other. She is from Russia and he lived in Russia until his family moved to the United States when he was six. The language barrier made it a little tricky for me to talk directly with her, but he was so patient and kind, and would turn to her and interpret. There was a lot of giggling and smiling over our eggs and coffee at McCarthy's in Stowe. For two years this sweet young couple dated long-distance: he lived in Boston and she in Moscow. "How did you manage that?" I asked. "We used Skype a lot," he explained to me. "We read stories to each other."

"You read to each other?" I asked, afraid I was going to start crying in front of these happy lovebirds.

"Yes," they both nodded, enthusiastically, "sometimes for hours."

And in that moment my mind wandered away from our table in the diner to a vision of the two of them, books in hand, sitting in rooms thousands of miles apart, reading stories in English and Russian to one another, their hearts full of love and longing, waiting for the day when they could be together. 

This afternoon I get to wave my magic Pastor wand and turn them into husband and wife. I imagine them, one day, telling their children, or maybe grandchildren, how they met in Russia and went out to dinner and talked for hours and knew they wanted to stay together, in spite of the great distance that separated them, and how they spent the first two years of their romance reading books to each other, from one continent to another, how they fell in love over Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter.

Hopefully the grandkids won't ask the question, "what are books?" Hopefully they'll understand just how great that story is. That there are many things that tear us apart in this life: jobs, death, school, divorce, intolerance, but there are also many things that bring us and keep us together: dreams and plans and ideas and music and projects and cooking and eating and the great desire to create beautiful things in this life.

And stories. Amen.