Thursday, January 21, 2010

Home for Christmas

When Kathy left town, country and continent on the very day we returned from our honeymoon, heartsick became my predominant form of raiment, time a most merciless enemy. Lesotho called, and she had to answer, but I will be damned if I felt that it was right that she had to go so soon.

By the time she returned, we had spent more of our married life apart than together. And we had a weekend planned full. Then came the snow. Such snow as I have not seen since I left behind my beloved Upstate New York winters.

We were given the gift of a snowbound weekend, immediately preceding the holiday, during which we were able to begin creating a home for Christmas, and to celebrate our great fortune in having found each other.

We were blessed with an appreciation for what we have, what we share. We listened to hours and hours of Christmas music (which I really enjoy though that surprises any who do not know me), wrapped gifts, remembered Christmas traditions - and even began some of our own. Kathy, of course, makes the perfect Christmas Elf, beautiful and mischievous in just the right measure.

And we so loved our Christmas tree, our first together, which we found rather randomly on the roadside, and purchased from the friendliest man who ever sold Christmas trees out of a parking lot.

Not all we had planned that weekend fell to the snow, though. That Sunday evening, our neighborhood held a progressive holiday party - it's a great little community we have on our street, diverse, friendly, giving, warm and kind. Kathy and I hosted the dessert portion of the festivities (for which Kathy made candy cane cookies and I made a vegan chocolate peanut butter pie).

On Christmas Day, we began with attending mass at the local Franciscan Friars' monastery. Kathy is Catholic. I am not. It was Christmas, though, and it seemed the right thing to do, as I knew it meant a lot to her, and I do like the place itself. The space that the brothers have there is really quite spectacular, and when we entered, one of them was playing a flute in a most splendidly sweet and melodious fashion.

Later, my sister, Joanne, and our dear friend Dahlia (who officiated at our wedding) joined us. We laughed. We ate. We napped. We called and Skyped family. We even opened some gifts.

All in all, Christmas was exactly what I had needed it to be. I feel blessed by my family and friends. And sharing Christmas with Kathy was magical. Here's to many more wondrous Christmases with my wife...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Honey in the Moon

At a backyard pool party in Pittsburgh, somewhere near the Fourth of July, Kathy and I discovered that we both want our honeymoon to be in Italy. But... we are moving to Lesotho for two years. Soon. So we have opted to postpone Italy until we can make the time to do it right.

As it turns out, though, we already had a trip planned for the week after our wedding - the week of Thanksgiving (and appropriately so). We were bound for Lake Placid. We traveled by train, riding up along the Hudson River valley and into the Adirondacks. The vistas became increasingly breathtaking as the trip progressed. I have been traveling to Lake Placid by train every year since I discovered it on my way back from a Michelle Branch concert in Canton, New York, in October, 2003.

Lake Placid is a sacred place, where the veil between the spiritual and the profane thins perceptibly. I go there just to be. And to write. And write and write. It is that kind of place. So to be able to go with Kathy, on what became our first honeymoon, was particularly poignant for me. And a wonderful escape for us both. Beginning with the train ride. Kathy's company is a constant source of joy and delight for me. I can spend hours on end with her, on a train, in her truck, stuck in traffic. It does not matter. I relish each moment.

My favorite place to stay in Lake Placid is the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort. So we got our room there, in which we had a whirlpool tub and a working fireplace. And a spectacular view. We looked out across Mirror Lake at the mountain peaks beyond. A wonderful, warm getaway from which we could take our intermittent excursions around the village.

Great little shops everywhere, including my favorite bookstore of all time, With Pipe and Book. (The one unhappy moment of the honeymoon was learning that this establishment was going out of business. It has always been one of the highlights of my time in Lake Placid, wherein I have found wonderful literary treasures, and I hate to see it go.)

We walked around Mirror Lake, walked over to Lake Placid itself (Main Street and a goodly portion of the village are located on Mirror Lake, as was our hotel), visited the Olympic Center - including the museum where we saw a wonderful video on Sonja Henie and the rink where the Miracle on Ice occurred, and we went bobsledding. Seriously. I thought they would go easy on us, but no. They put those motorcycle helmets on us, strapped us in, and we flew down a mile of ice in less than a minute. A rough ride, it felt like I would fly out of the sled if I loosened my grip. Definitely not an experience for the fainthearted. But cool. And I never would have done it, were it not for Kathy's influence.

Out in the parking lot, afterward, Kathy and I had a brief snowball fight. And I must say, for a Texas girl, she held up her end quite well. Honestly, it came out close to a draw. I like that we have so much fun together. I do believe that I would like to spend the rest of my life with her. Funny how that works out. Funny how everything works out with her. Like Lake Placid. We needed some sort of honeymoon, just to relish our initial moments of wedded bliss, and just to get away from the world for a few days and be just we two. And there it was. And it was perfect. Simple, romantic and beautiful.

Honey in the Moon

Wash my spirit in the quiet mountains
And hold my hand as we ride along the river.
Laugh, touch, become the softest sleep.
Let my heart be open and warm, the giver.

Walk around this lake with me.
You have given me an unspoiled sky
As a memory of being, a time we shared
When the earth itself rose high.

I shall always be beside you, ready
For each new journey, ever upward.
I shall call all firelight by your name
Like a prayer truly answered.

My love, what a trip we took,
Where the nights were sweet as your skin:
The moon dripped honey like ecstasy
And beauty scarce knew where to begin.

Marriage, the devoted spirit of union,
Imprinted our hearts with what we had said,
And so much of what we will become
Traces to the moment when you and I were wed.