a {public} note about love: eleven years of marriage

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Mark and I are married 11 years today, a year that has been the most difficult and yet binding; the kind of year that forces our heart roots, once shallow and neatly divided, deeper into a tangled labyrinth desperate for living water. We know now we’ll forever reference this year; the year we weathered the storm together, searching the troughs of our souls for the Truth to speak and sing in shadowed corners, learning to rule over our souls by the Spirit, and waiting for the God who sees all to plunge us from the dark. And he is coming to us. Daily. Like Manna.

For our anniversary, my parents gave us money for a nice date and Kristen and Tim watched the kids for us; we spent the afternoon together watching a movie, eating sushi, perusing the used book store, and drinking wine. My phone died so I didn’t take any pictures, and for those of you who don’t know my husband, he still uses a Nokia brick phone — you know that gold or blue one from a decade ago? That’s just his style, and one of my favorite things about him, except when my phone dies. But tonight it seemed appropriate to have just us with no distracting devices, time to absorb each other and the decade plus already ingested. And here’s part of it. Mark gifted me with such beauty this afternoon: lilies weighted in steel BBs and the words that bind it all together. (I asked him if I could share them here.) Enjoy.

ELEVEN

Bethany – If you wanted to — if you were so inclined — you could split my heart like a melon rind and watch thousands of tiny silver balls stream to the ground bouncing across this room like our little girls do in the evening — swooshing away grief and heaviness, stomping away our souring moods. These buckshot BBs, shiny silver balls, are each one a memory collected and stored away from the one hundred thirty-two months of this union, this great indivisible union, assaulted and assailed along every line — a union underfunded and stressed at the joints. I’ve swallowed the steel drops down, gulped them in the Grayton Beach gulf and found five in the Kansas City fountains; I inhaled three on the hike near Glasgow and choked on hundreds, glutton that I am, in Sonoma County. This heart has grown fat and full and heavy with the small metallic delights you’ve patiently fed me for years — basted in butter, crested in creme, a flambe in fine wine. I am full. I am swollen-chested, my silver pearls thump and compress with electric pulses ordained by the Silversmith who fans the flames. Timed and numbered. Once thumping and clanging, these ball-bearing memories have begun to smolder and fuse with the rising temperatures of your love for eleven full years. Just now underway, hot liquid metal will soon magma flow out of the ventricles and chambers and will warm your cold feet in a winter’s bed when you’re 78 and shriveled. I will still look pretty damn good, but I will permit you to bask in my bald-headed glory on my arm at dinner parties or when we argue over canteloupe in the produce aisle. I will radiate my silver steel warmth to these children of ours if they will just be quiet for one minute — good gosh, one minute. I will syphon off some of my silver pulse to fashion a ring one day to replace the misshapen, weak, young token of our early love — a ring built from borrowed coin and stressed by the weight you’ve endured through the years. It will be better, stronger, perfectly round and thick in refined platinum — one day. The Great Alchemist will have turned our weakness and untested love caught kissing in a park into something pure — an heirloom love polished by our blood, sweat, and avalanche tears. And it will shine because it is stifling, smoldering hot this year and because we swoon from this rising heat. So do not fret, my love, keep feeding me your strength of steel, and I will burn in my love for you. And together we’ll discover what might be forged in one platinum lifetime. 

All my love, all my life — Mark

I originally edited out the last part of Mark’s letter because I wasn’t sure he wanted everything so public, and he wasn’t nearby to ask. Turns out, he wanted all of it together. Imagine. Sorry, Love. So now the full letter stands.

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