The Boy From Atlanta

Photo by Marni Rothschild

"i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; 
and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)..."

There are six and a half hours of hard driving between Louisville and Atlanta.  433 miles of road.  Mountains, metropolitan areas, bridges, construction, traffic (sweet Baby Jesus, the traffic).  I know all of the gas stops because I have made that drive many, many times.  You see, I fell in love with a boy there.

It all started with Facebook.  A reconnection from long ago when we were both train wrecks and trying to figure out who we were.  Then it was was a "Like" on a post, a chat about an HBO series.  Then a longer chat about food, a chat about art.  A hand carved birthday gift arrived that conjured some heady magic, which led to a longer email about art, which led to dozens of emails about everything, and then came the phone calls.  He seduced my mind, made my heart beat a new beat, made my mind move faster, and this crazy intimacy was created; a new and sacred space that I couldn't even talk about for fear of breaking the spell. Then there was an invitation ("Come up for Halloween.  It's a huge party here at my sister's.  It would be great to see you").  We both expected the gas and flame routine, expected there to be an explosion.  That's how you know love has struck, right?  That's what had happened in the past for both of us.  Except they always burned out.  Instead, this time, there was a spark that would smolder and build into a long, slow burn and an unnerving feeling of coming home.

"i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you..."

I was not going in for any of that hearts and flowers.  I was too wise for that, been around the block too many times to be doe eyed over a boy.  I, my friends, I was not falling for this romantic nonsense.  I was not going to be hurt again ("I don't think I can be what you need."  "I think you should stop labelling things and just be in the moment").  I wouldn't even call him my boyfriend.  He was just "The Boy" when anyone referred to him ("are you going to Atlanta to see The Boy again this weekend?").  But fate had a different plan.  Fate put this boy in my path and he saw so clearly all of the wreckage within me and quietly and reverently honored it while seeing what was yet to be built.  He was the stillness in the chaos of my storm, he was the honest, present moment that battled my hurt untruths of the past, he was the courage of love to my unbridled fear of vulnerability.  My heart recognized him as my own.  I was utterly terrified of how big that was.

It has been six years this week that a boy from Atlanta came up to Louisville and carefully dismantled the walls of past hurts to teach me how to accept and be loved the way I am supposed to be.  We have lived what feels like many lifetimes in that six years.  Jobs, relocations, major life-changing sickness, deaths, births, arguments, reconciliations, tears of joy and heartache, laughter, so much life has happened in these last years.  "Being married" was getting to be old hat, the habit of love entrenched and maybe even a little stale.

Then yesterday, all at once, I watched him lean against our kitchen counter amidst the chaos of multiple dogs running topsy turvy, the carnage of a broken vase scattering across the floor, cross his arms over his chest and grin a private grin at me while we were trying to cook dinner, and I fell in love with him all over again in the space of a moment and it took my breath away.  Everyone I know that has been married for any length of time says that happens; you fall in and out of love.  We had never had enough history for that to happen before now, I guess.  How lucky I am.  How good it is.

"here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
~e.e. cummings

So I will take the smolder over an explosion anyday.  The Boy is a professional fire builder, afterall.  I am here to confirm he knows how to make a fire last.

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