Friday, May 21, 2010

A Life of Contrasts

One of the qualities I pride myself on is my range of adaptability. I am equally at home camping in the wilderness (with no toilet or shower for days!) as I am staying in five-star hotels (soaking in a Jacuzzi bath and ordering room service). Marcus shared this love of contrasts and we even had our wedding rings designed to communicate the point: a ring of fine gold ran around the outside to represent elegance, with an inner ring made of steel to represent our more rugged interests, like camping and motorcycle trips. These two rings were mysteriously connected-yet-separate so they made a jingling noise when shaken. The rattling turned out to be a useful communication tool as we would use the sound occasionally, usually when making up after an argument, by shaking them in each other's ears as a non-verbal way of saying, "I'm sorry. I still love you." (Photo above: Marcus and me, wearing our rings on our engagement day, camping at Umpqua Hot Springs in Oregon. May 30, 2003.)

Now I wear both rings -- Marcus' bigger one on the bottom and mine on top of his to hold his on -- making for quite a weighty load on my left ring finger. I can't wear the rings every day (especially not when baking pies -- all that dough gets stuck in between!) but I did wear them to my dad's 75th birthday dinner on Tuesday, to which we were driven in a stretch limo.

The last time Marcus and I rode in a limo together was five years earlier, for my dad's 70th birthday. (Photo, right. May 18, 2005) Which made my dad's 75th birthday yet another one of those bittersweet occasions. (The bitter and sweet combo is a recurring theme these days -- but in truth my life feels more like one big messy, sour rhubarb patch!) While it was fun to be with my family celebrating my dad's birthday in such high style, my heart was heavy the entire evening with the longing for Marcus who should have been there with us.

But wherever Marcus is, surely he would have heard me as I shook my hand throughout the evening (trying to do it in a way that no one would notice or think I had some nervous tick!) I jingled and jingled those heavy gold and steel rings sending him the message, "I'm sorry. I still love you." And I wish you were here.

(Photo: The Howard Family, minus Marcus.)
(Photo: In the back of the limo with my brother Michael.)
My life continues to be full of contrasts. A fun occasion, a heavy heart. A limo ride to Beverly Hills for dinner one night, driving the RV to the semi-rural life in Portland the next. I set off for Portland on Wednesday and kept jingling those rings the entire 1,000-mile drive. I like to think Marcus did hear me because I made it back safely. If he can't be my husband any longer at least he can be my guardian angel. The only down side is that my hand is tired from all that ring shaking.
And now for a contrast I'm greatly looking forward to -- parking the RV for a while and driving my Mini Cooper again!

No comments: