My wife glanced at yesterday’s post and just sighed. She explained that she did not like it when I composed pieces like that. She told me that it seems that as I grow older, I am rapidly becoming more and more cynical, and my writing reflects this cynicism.
She went on to say that she enjoys reading my compositions much more when I don’t write anything angry or fearful or threatening, as has been my main output as of late. And she alluded to when, at one time, I seemed to find beauty even in the most unlikely of places, at the most unlikely of times, and dug deep, deep, deep within myself to find, to discover , the language—just the right combination of words—to represent that beauty in prose.
She reminded me of something I had written on our wedding night. Something I had insisted on reading aloud even as we both waited impatiently and nervously to consummate our wedding vows. Something that managed to bring us both to tears. Something that imperfectly and clumsily--yet splendidly she recalled—gave voice to the emotion of the moment.
“Can’t you,” she asked imploringly, “write something beautiful like that again?”
She wondered out loud what had happened to that idealistic young man she began her adult life with in that tiny little apartment in Riverside when we were plenty broke, yet plenty happy. When the only furniture we owned was a second hand king-sized water bed and a pair of papasan chairs. But how convenient for newlyweds.
She reminded me of a time when I spent every moment that we were separated documenting each and every one of my thoughts, my feelings—every emotion--, in the margins of my class notes, in the empty spaces of those blue examination booklets, wherever I found room to write. And at night, I would read them to her as we waited for the Arsenio Hall show to begin.
“All the stuff you wrote then was so silly, so corny, but so beautiful,” she laughed. “When we are apart, do you still dominate your every thought now?”
Then she dug out a baby memory book from the top of a closet somewhere. She dug out a delicate, yellowed napkin which I vaguely recognized. She gingerly unfolded it and passed it to my teenage daughter, who just happened to be passing through.
“This is what your dad wrote to you shortly after you were born when we waited night after night in the preemie unit, hoping and praying that you would develop properly, that you would gain enough weight so that we might just be able to bring you home with us. But you wouldn’t stop moving, fidgeting, and you had to be swaddled just so you would not burn off what food you were given. You were unctuous even then.”
My daughter read it once. And then again. Then she handed it to me with a wistful look in her eye.
“This is so absolutely beautiful, Dad. When did you become so angry? You should write more stuff like this. I would devour every word.”
And then my wife reminded me of the obituary I had written upon the occasion of the death of our youngest child. The obituary I had struggled through even though with each and every line my heart broke over and over and over again. Even though it was difficult to even see the page through my tears, which caused the ink to smear and run.
“That,” my wife told me, “was perhaps the most beautiful thing you have ever written, despite the balefulness of the occasion, of the moment, and even in its pitiful, sorrowful, simplicity.”
Lastly, she reminded me of the impending change of seasons when the summer reluctantly gave way to fall. She reminded me that at one time this had been my favorite time of year. She reminded me that at one time the change of seasons, signaling the movement of time, a perpetual cycle of decline and rebirth, awed me, inspired me to write so many beautiful things, most of which I now seemed to distance my from by packing them away in boxes in a storage facility somewhere.
As she prepared to leave for work, she playfully admonished me, “When I get to work and check your site, I would like to read something beautiful. Write something beautiful for me, something like you used to write so long ago.”
So, she left me sitting there, staring at a blank page, trying to figure out just what to write when I suddenly realized that the most beautiful thing that I have ever known or experienced, that I could never have imagined, dreamt up out of thin air—given all the good and even the bad, the positive and even the negative—defied language, and I lacked the requisite talent and skill to ever capture it with words.
The most beautiful thing I have ever known or experienced, that I could never have imagined, dreamt up out of thin air, is our life together, the life we have made for ourselves.