October 20, 2020. New revision and additions, January 7, 2023. (Full length essay)
It is May. I am at home at my desk in a green-painted bedroom, my cat, Sugar is resting on my bed, and my mom is downstairs doing something. I think my sister isn’t home. I receive a message online and see this guy in the picture, side view, he is holding a guitar. Hm, he looks cool…and nice looking. And I love music. We chatted for a few minutes. On his profile, a question asked what kind of pet you had, they had choices, he picked ‘unicorn.’ When he emailed me the next day, the message went into my spam folder, (I used to check my Spam folder sometimes even though I rarely got any actual emails in there), he had mentioned in the email that he was the guy with the baby unicorn. He added me on Facebook and we chatted some more. He lived in Massachusetts somewhere, south of Boston, I was in Brooklyn, NY, and I didn’t know where it would go if anywhere, considering the distance. After a conversation about that, he said that he would come to meet me. We decided to meet at Central Park, 59th Street/Columbus Circle.
It was the beginning of July. I was twenty-three. I was wearing a summery white knitted short-sleeved open sweater and a brown and white kind of dressy top beneath it, jeans and some pretty shoes but not too, too dressy for walking around a lot. We planned to meet at the Columbus Circle entrance of Central Park, but there were crowds of people everywhere, and horses going by with carriages filled with people, and we couldn’t find each other at first. Finally, we did. At a later time, he had said when he found me he first noticed how tiny I was and also very pretty, compared to the crowds of people around us. Well, I am 5’ and wasn’t wearing heels. I noticed he was good looking, I didn’t want to stare, of course, but his bright blue eyes reminded me of the ocean in the sun, and he seemed like a quiet, humble person.
In Central Park, we passed some nice musicians, I think one was playing the song, “The Girl from Ipanema.” I had liked that song at that time, and another ukulele player strumming “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
We walked a lot and talked, he didn’t look at me, so I wasn’t sure if he didn’t like me or was shy, but I didn’t mind waiting to find out. As we were walking, we were both getting tired, so we were trying to figure out how to walk back to 59th Street/Columbus Circle. Central Park is bigger than Boston as a whole. I said, I think if we see this water called “the reservoir” we’ll be more north and Columbus Circle is south, so we need to walk away from that direction. We started walking, which I thought was away from there. And then there it was: “Oh no, not the reservoir!” I said amusedly. I was tired, and he was too, though it was a nice walk and conversation. I decided to exit the park where we were and suggested we take the subway to 59th Street/Columbus Circle. He had never been inside the NYC subway so I felt by his expression he found it kind of dark and maybe not so pleasant. I didn’t notice it myself. We took one of the trains (maybe the A?) to Columbus Circle and reached the destination where we had started. That was our first date.
The next weekend, he took a bus from Boston rather than driving, and we met at Madison Square Park, also in Manhattan, a smaller park. We had lunch in that area I am assuming. I think we went inside either Barnes and Nobles or Borders there. At Madison Square Park, we sat on a bench, and in the distance there was a water fountain and a lovely rainbow. He asked if I wanted to be his girlfriend, and we decided to change our Facebook statuses when we got back home. After our time together, we went to K-Mart and he bought a pillow for the bus ride back.
I was afraid to travel to Boston by myself but I decided to in early October. The first time, I took the Metro North train in Manhattan to Connecticut and he met me there, but the next time and from then on I took a bus from Manhattan straight to Boston which was easier.
I remember thinking how rural everything looked when we arrived—after we had left Boston and drove to the town where his family lived, I asked if these were farms; it was an interesting sight. It was a not very populated, historical suburban town called Easton where they lived, now a little more populated. My house in Brooklyn wasn’t in the middle of the craziness of the city, it was kind of like a suburb in a way, the neighborhood, but you didn’t see the same people much and didn’t have to go far to be around more people, and there was not much nature, so this was a delight as I’ve always loved nature even though I didn’t really grow up with it.
I met his parents and sister and brother at that time. I remember going into his grandparents’ house for the first time. They live in a classical New England Colonial with a pond in their backyard. I felt like I had just stepped into some English storybook with their home, furniture and decor, backyard, and the way they spoke. I think some things they said I didn’t really understand but was interested to hear about them. I think they also noticed my Brooklyn accent and way of speaking at the time. The first time I met his grandmother, she asked how long I was staying, and I said I was going home tomorrow, and she said, “Oh no! You’re coming back, aren’t you? I just fell in love with you, that’s all!” She is a very special person along with other members of the family of course.
When I would go on the bus in Boston back to Manhattan, and then on a train back to Brooklyn, before I left, Dan and I would say goodbye, and there would be a tear in each of our eyes.
I enjoyed spending time together with him, and also with his family, and liked Massachusetts, so I moved there a couple years later. I also liked sharing music with him. He found many of my musicians very odd but we joked about it (i.e. Stina Nordenstam who to some sounds like a small porcelain doll come to life. I like the uniqueness and innocence of her sound.) It was very difficult at first having no one from my life in Brooklyn there with me, although I kept in touch and we went to visit them. I was grateful I could call my mom and my grandma and text my sister and not have to worry about phone cards or anything like that. And even though I’m not the type of person who needs to be outside all the time, I enjoyed being out in nature. I love to be indoors a good part of the time, maybe sitting in a chair and seeing the natural world—trees, plants, birds, sun, sky—through the open window.
We used to go to Borderland State Park often, a place that was very special to him where he went as a child as well and knew very well. We also enjoyed other nature spots and going to Borders, sometimes getting hot chocolate or a dessert, as well as going to different restaurants for lunch or dinner.He liked to play guitar and wrote me two songs which I enjoyed, one instrumental. (He didn’t want me to listen to them anymore a bit after that, I respect that and don’t mind.)
He told me when we first met he told his grandma that he was so happy to have met me, that he met a girl who was beautiful, smart, and liked nature, tea, and animals.
I liked how he was a gentleman to me, creative, responsible, his accent which wasn’t Boston but I never could name (I’d find out it is mainly a midwestern accent because he worked closely—in Boston—for years with a man who was from Illinois. And the other man or two working with them are from Ireland, so he recently rolls his r’s just slightly, but I also thought I was pleasantly imagining it, until he pointed it out himself when I asked about his accent.) He himself has only lived in Massachusetts.
I also liked how much he loved music and played guitar. I could see that he admired me, which made me like him more.
We went to Borderland Park again one Saturday in July. We were walking a long time, but we weren’t lost this time, I was getting tired and asking if we were going to go back soon. But there was a particular place that would be beautiful that we hadn’t reached yet. After some time we sat on a bench overlooking a pond where he proposed to me. It was sunny again, the water was shimmering, the diamond ring glittered in his hand, I could hear the birds, and I said yes. He kissed me. We walked back which felt a shorter way and happened to see his grandfather walking his dog as we were leaving so it was nice to tell him that we were engaged.
We were going to have the wedding ceremony at that park, but as we were walking somewhere else I spotted a little place where there was a lily pond and a small waterfall cascading into the pond. I have always loved ponds and loved the sound of the trickling water, plus it was a smaller, more intimate spot for our planned small ceremony, so he agreed, we had it there, and had the reception at an Italian restaurant that looked out to a lake in Norton.
For the ceremony, I chose a poem to be read “The Master Speed” by the New England poet Robert Frost, which was read aloud by the officiant.
I picked it because I’d wanted a nature and love poem that fit the setting, and Robert Frost was known as a New England poet, and I wanted something more traditional while still with some mystery. I would at times read more experimental poetry and still do, but I felt for that setting, I was not really up for a Gertrude Stein or a postmodern poem with feelings of the dictionary on shuffle, for that particular occasion, or to baffle the wedding guests.
Over time, one memorable gift I gave him was a book I made in which I had hand-written a poem I wrote about us (found in my book of poems, Moonflower, titled “Softly He Enters, Smiling She Meets Him”), along with other often funny memories, miscellaneous memorable things, and a picture of the Central Park reservoir where I drew arrows pointing in different directions and wrote my exclamation, “Oh no, not the Reservoir!” Another was a brown leather watch that looked like it was from an earlier time but also modernized and easy to read. That watch battery had been replaced a few times and also the strap after some time, but this year it sadly stopped working. A memorable gift he gave me was a silver ornamental pen with an amethyst at the top, my birth stone, and my name, Jade engraved on the side of the pen. Another was a beautiful white very warm winter coat which I loved and wore all the time until it became too worn and I was able to give it to the store for a very similar one in a different color.
One day he did a collaboration and made a book that you could customize from Apple where he put some of his photographs and some poems of mine. It is true that he doesn’t like or understand poetry, but that doesn’t matter, and we didn’t talk about that at the time.
I started this blog, Blush of Dawn about a year after we had met and continued writing it throughout our marriage and was working towards meeting readers and writers on the blog and authoring a book.
We searched for a house to buy for some time. There were many funny moments of the search, such as when we walked into a house that had a very large room which seemed to be solely for a small rabbit who had strewn hay, lettuce, and chewed up carrots all over the floor and was hopping around, all the bits of hay, lettuce, carrots and stuff dragging beneath its little feet. The real estate agent opened the door and then quickly closed it again without saying much.
We did find a house after awhile. It was a small (and a good size) one level Ranch. It needed a lot of work so we were very busy with that: a washing machine that filled up with dirty kitchen sink water when we had moved in and was for some reason hooked up that way, (I found a memorable Plumber who thought I might’ve chosen him because we were both Italian—he fixed it right away), there were things in all different places for awhile, the bed out in the living room sometimes or in some hallway or something, lots of hammering and painting, and much of the flooring was being worked on by a few different workers and not always exactly a floor. The result of the wood flooring was wonderful. During the time, we worked through it together.
My favorite part of that house was the office, with shelves we added in an open closet for books, and the walls were painted green which is my favorite color for a writing room, and there was a window in front of the desk, not large, and a bit of a distance away. I also liked the ‘second’ living room. Even though the carpet was an outdoor one, old, somewhat unpleasant, and an odd color, (if we were staying we would’ve changed it eventually), I enjoyed the bay windows with a view of the backyard and a maple tree. We didn’t really like the town or location and didn’t feel at home there. One day our next door neighbor had been coerced by someone who came to her door into cutting down all of the trees that surrounded her house, so everything was completely open. We sold the house around that time and moved to where we are living now which I loved as soon as we got here and felt at home right away. We also adopted a kitten before we moved here, and I will write about that in a future post: 7! (Peeko’s 7th birthday post)
Some people say don’t look back, don’t reminisce, don’t reflect, be in the moment, and move ahead. But I feel it is good to look back and remember where you came from and why you were there, and then return to the present because it might help you to know where you are going.
This quote from the poet Khalil Gibran sprung to mind last month. I am not positive it was by him, but I’m pretty sure, so this is my own rendering because I don’t remember the original:
“Be like separate strings ringing with the same music.”
To me that means to be united but also be individuals, to not expect the person you love to agree with you on everything, or to like everything or almost everything you like, but to have mutual respect, listen to each other with interest, and to notice where you overlap. To ring with the same music, for me, means having a sense of being united and connected, valuing and loving one another, having the same desire of wanting to be in each other’s company not all the time but with quality time, and trying to understand each other even when at times you might not, and to notice when you are understood.
Some people say, it’s never the same as when you first meet, the excitement goes away, things change. That is partly true, but it’s only partly true, well, it can be true for some people; it is just a different feeling. And actually it just doesn’t even really matter to me; it wasn’t better in the past; I prefer closeness to suspense, but even my closeness contains suspense in love and plenty of excitement, even in things like the sun rising everyday, or Dan coming home from work.
Maybe you aren’t waiting in anticipation to find out if your love is going to want to meet you that day, or waiting for the time you’ll get to see each other again or go on another date, because now you’re married and live together and see each other so much more often. But actually, if I personally like a person, I will look forward to this person waking up everyday for years and years.
Without necessarily picking out separate things you like about each other in a logical list (if you don’t think that way), or to constantly go back in time to compare your love to the way he or she was when you first met, you can keep the essence of the decision to marry in your heart.
You can do things you both enjoy and try to listen compassionately and non-judgmentally when your love has a conflict, even if it has something to do with you, something you are doing hurtfully, such as—I am not doing well without open communication and talking about resolution going forward; I can request ideas, it is a need, and it is not to be better than anyone, or for the other person to accomplish a goal; it is to create ways to add more comfort and safety to the future; it is about listening and trying to do that for the sake of love rather than success.
At a time, you might need to ask yourself: Will I make the effort to love? To know the person you are with as they may and probably will change over time and this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, to listen to them when they talk and also be with them in companionable silence, to want them to feel happy and content in your presence, to ease their pain when they are sad by being there but not thinking you are required to fix their problem, to try to understand them even if the immediate result isn’t understanding (but also recognizing if the other is trying to change your mind about your own self even subtly, and it is actually an unfair suggestion), to notice when there is understanding and happiness, to allow your love to feel free to be themselves and for you to be yourself while still ringing with the same music.