Tuesday, December 22, 2009



Our wedding day was lyrical, and I hope this serves to illustrate that in some small way...


Love walks like a snowfall
Landing lightly upon my tongue
A shiver of delight
A breath held too long

I am in my best suit
A cardboard cutout handsome groom
My laughter is all nerves
The ceiling too low in the room

A fairytale damsel in vintage white
Descends the stairs with her bouquet
I can hear her heartbeat
The perfect rhythm for a perfect day

Tears take turns falling
Punctuating poetry and promises
Vows and wisdom
Paint the air with their agelessness

I am married here
I glide lightly and my soul can only dance
Like lightness on a new quest
Into the origins of romance


A Beautiful Day

My memories of our wedding day are a kaleidoscope of perfect moments.

Kathy coming down the stairs in her wedding gown, which was made by her great-grandmother for her grandmother. She literally takes my breath away. Pausing at the landing, as Van Morrison sings "love, love, crazy love" in the background, she smiles - and the universe shifts its focus.

Holding her hand, Connor, her nephew, walks her down the aisle. In our living room. We are married in our living room. I can feel the moment we made that decision and it still feels right.

Each of us, in turn, cries during our vows. Dahlia's words are perfect. (Not only is she our Officiant and friend, she is a poet.) Kathy's words are perfect. And so are mine.

I cannot take my eyes off of my new wife all day. There is no one else.

The sun sets with a glow that lights us all (25 if you count family, friends, groom and bride) as we ride down to the Lincoln Memorial in our trolley. We have dreamed of this. Darkness at the Jefferson Memorial, but it is lit up beautifully. Everything makes a perfect background for us.

Dinner at Oya is everything we could want. The cake from Sticky Fingers is out of this world. And the vintage cake topper we found online fits just right. Surrounded by family and friends. A circle of love unbroken, celebrating ours.

My son, Casey, delivers a beautiful speech during dinner. He speaks of my happiness in a way that makes it clear my happiness matters to him. What a young man he has become. What a proud father I am.

By the time Kathy and I arrive at Hotel Palomar, we are exhausted, but exhilarated by the day, the love, the wedding, the people who were there for us. And Kathy is more beautiful than any woman has ever been. Of this I am certain.

What a day. What a gift to us.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Riverside Morning

Kathy and I were married November 21, 2009. Twice. Because the District of Columbia would not allow our friend Dahlia to officiate at our wedding, but the Commonwealth of Virginian would and did, Kathy and I were married first and legally down by the Potomac River that Saturday morning. It was a perfect moment to begin a perfect day.

We met early and drove down to a park in Old Town Alexandria, a few blocks from where I used to live, where we were able to walk out over the water and be married in a quiet moment of simplicity and grace. We spoke a few words, signed our papers, and were wed. And as much as I might from time to time have wanted marriage law in D.C. to be other than it is, I could not have wished for a better, more peaceful way in which to become husband and wife.

The ceremony later that day was our wedding, but that morning, we were wed, and it will stay in my mind as a soft, sweet memory of how our married life began, quietly, in each others' arms, and in the solace of a gentle riverside moment.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Right Now, Over Me

The night before the wedding, we wanted no formal rehearsal. We are bringing two families together, and we want that to be a meaningful joining. So we opted for a casual event: Kathy's family and mine, seasoned with a spaghetti dinner prepared by Kathy's mom, Pat. We mingled, we talked, and we even played 'ice breaker' games - one led by Karen, Kathy's sister, and the other by Kathy, who had put the time into developing a Jeopardy-style Getting To Know Us quiz. I had originally been hesitant to embrace the idea of such activities. My mistake. They were great moments, enjoyed by all, though folks did seem to get a bit competitive over the Jeopardy game!

Some of the stories told about me were new, and quite touching, even as they were humorous. Sheryl, my son's girlfriend, told of her trepidation upon the occasion of first meeting me, after having only known me by my deep, sometimes scary Dad Voice, on the telephone. And the recounted memories of Kathy only served to reinforce my faith in her, with tales of how she had been there when needed, providing solace as she does now to me each day.

Everyone got along so well, it seemed to confirm the union we are making. And it revealed anew our remarkable families, to whom we owe so much of who we are. They came together for us, and the spirit of the moment was one of joy and welcoming. Meant to be.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Remain

My posts will not always recount events in the order in which they occur. Rather, they will be made as I am able or inspired to write them. Thus, posts about the wedding and honeymoon will come later, even though I am married more than a week now.

On the day of our return from five perfect days in Lake Placid, Kathy flew off to Lesotho for two weeks. There, she was greeted with song and dance - as was only fitting. My heart sings and my spirit dances whenever she appears.

And I struggle with her absence, for she is my home, now.

I Remain

My alarm pierces a vivid dream of doors
And familiar voices. With no one to hold me I relent
And rise. I dress to exercise, swapping
That old shirt you abhor for the one I got
As a souvenir, after riding a bob-sled
On a mountainside with you in Lake Placid.

Downstairs I hunch over my cereal alone,
Balancing on the edge of the couch,
Wondering where your flight
Has so far gone. A few minutes of low impact
And then some stretches. I am done.
You think I’ve lost too much weight
As it is.

I shower then dress, donning
One of your favorite ties. Imagining your reaction,
I spike my hair for that mischievous smile
You wear so perfectly, and might
Were you not between here
And Johannesburg. Or more honestly,
I do it for the smile I wish I could see
In front of me right now.

I finally have my ring and that is a certain comfort,
But it reminds me too that we are wed
And too soon apart. Nonetheless I know
That I am closer to the sky since our vows.
So I pause my morning for the Writer’s Almanac
As you always do.

I practice the new song I learned on our honeymoon,
The one about the roses and how
I could not leave you there - the one I learned
To stir you
And to satisfy myself,
For these are now the same.

Then as I am shutting down the lights,
I see the bed unmade. Your ghost
Graces the curves of the tussled sheets,
And I wish to leave that image
Undisturbed. But I make it neatly
For it has aired as long as you could wish
And I want everything
bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbReady for your return.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Tomorrow, I become

Tomorrow, I become a husband.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Getting to know the new family

Every moment with Kathy is like a dream. Our recent visit to Boston and Rhode Island was no exception. I had to work most of the weekend, but still she went with me... she was there. Life is inherently romantic (this I know), but with her it is more. I am living as within poetry, not merely writing it. Everything feels new, and she still takes my breath away whenever she comes into view, walks into the room, or just looks up into my eyes...

While on this trip, we managed a day trip to visit some of her family. (I must confess that I felt no little trepidation when first faced with meeting Kathy's family - my new family - earlier this year. Those nerves faded fast, though, giving way to the warmth of being welcomed. They have been kind to me, and I am grateful for that.)

We went to Providence, where we visited Ruth, Kathy's grandmother - an illustrious soul with a heart of gold. We also went to see Kathy's sister, Karen, brother-in-law, David, and precious niece, Maisy. They have been so kind to us, always welcoming us into their home and lives.

And of course, we were met in Boston, transported around in the automobile of, and fed lunch by, Kathy's mother, Pat, who is both generous and possessed of a boundless energy. Kathy's Aunt Gail joined us for lunch, too, at Ruth's house. But the real focus was Maisy...

After Kathy returned to D.C., her own work calling her back, I continued to explore Boston as I could, in between meetings, discussion panels, and impromptu conversations with colleagues and strangers. My friend Sarah Rockstar and I took a stroll one afternoon, and I must confess that the City of Boston impressed me even more than it has in the past, with its architecture, the walkability of downtown, the harbor, the comfortable beauty of Boston Common, and the sense of a city alive and at ease with itself.

I look forward to seeing my new family again, over the next few days, while they are here in D.C. for our wedding, and in the years to come. And I look forward to exploring Boston again and again, as life allows.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Imagine You Flying

Two weekends before our wedding, Kathy and I were in Boston. I had a conference there, and she has family in the area, including her mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law and niece. So we wove together work and family for a few days. Every moment was a joy, but Kathy had to fly back to DC on Monday morning, while I stayed to work through till Wednesday. I wrote the following the day she left.

I Imagine You Flying

I imagine you flying
South, over the eastern coastline
Toward home, in D.C.
The aisle seat yours, this time
Without me there to take it
Without me asking you, instead,
To lean on me
For your breathing space

I imagine you in that dress
The one you wore to dinner, on Saturday
A goddess on my arm, and in my eyes
As we lingered over Thai in Back Bay
Not merely all I could see
But everything
I could ever remember having seen

I imagine you landing
Walking, along the glass-encased passages
At National, your patchwork bag
And your knitting, a recent obsession, both with you
The weight of the day's work
Settling into your shoulders, and me
Not there to ease it out

I imagine you in your glory
Riding train to train, into the District
A queen, too elegant to disguise
Too charmed to be unseen
Passersby, given pause
By your presence, and your poise, wondering
Who is she? Why, why don't I know?

I imagine the next two days
Wherein I, lonely, determined, explore
Old Boston, Quincy Market, the Common
The Harbor and Commonwealth Avenue
Staining my shirt during lunch, feeling
Your distance like a kite, tugging
Insistently, a constant call, a beckoning to take wing
Toward you

I imagine myself returning
My own flight, to you, longer than eternity
Me, missing the gentle pressure of you
Against my arm, the scent
Of your hair, the hotel shampoo
And seeing you, at last
On the far side of the security checkpoint
My beacon of solace, love and loving
Guiding me home


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In the beginning

I find myself moving forward, fantastically alive and thriving, but my tale begins by looking back. Injury is the epilogue, and my story finds me starting out more lonely than I knew; but it moves rapidly into healing, and discovery, and love.

Briefly, it begins like this. I hurt my back. Really hurt it. For days, I could barely move. Making it across the room was an uncertainty, a journey fraught with the peril of gravity, and a fragile tightness of being. During the weeks that followed, I managed to return to work, but those few steps from one handhold to the next, from the doorway to the desk, from the railing to the wall, were always filled with fervent prayers that I please, please not fall.

I went to see all the specialists, from physical therapists who tried to help, to surgeons whose integrity led them to profess that they could not help at all. Some made it worse. None could fix it. But my search, my unwillingness to capitulate to the captivity of my own ailing body, was eventually rewarded with the name of a woman who asked me the question I needed to hear.

Her name is Natalie Matushenko, and when we first met, we talked about my life, what it was, and what I wanted it t o be. I told her about working with children, how much I had loved that, and she wanted to know why I had given it up. I told her it did not pay enough. She looked at me and asked, "So?" A moment that changed my life. I had no good answer, no response that could satisfy that question. "So?"

So... I decided that I would find a volunteering opportunity, start working with children again, while I sorted out the rest of my life, found ways to address my pain, put my life on track. Down the street I found my chance, at the Campagna Center, where they needed tutors for school-age children. While I was filling out their paperwork and telling my story, the Assistant Director told me about idealist.org. There, I found a new job. A new job where my boss said, "I have a friend you should meet."

She was right. Her friend's name is Kathy, and Kathy and I are to be wed in a few days. Three months after that, the two of us will be moving to Africa. Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, to be precise. But I get ahead of myself...