July 30, 2014

The Sound of Water

Ten years ago I drove down Highway 43 at dusk, watching the sun melt into a haze of orange over Deep Lake, and with one particular song that seemed to evaporate into the heavy air on repeat, I pulled my car into his parent's driveway. He was home from California, and in that moment, shooting baskets with his brother and two friends under the garage light and an assemblage of summer-drunk bugs. He wore a yellow shirt, thin and wide on his shoulders. When his gaze met mine through the windshield glass--that smile, that shirt, that sun, those bugs, the rest of our lives: there they were.

What I remember of that summer was like that look: heady. Anyone who has not just walked toward love but fallen off the dock into the black midnight waters of it will know what I mean. You do not know you can talk that long, grin that big, stare that uninterruptedly, kiss that hard, laugh that loud, dream that vividly, hope that unapologetically until suddenly you are doing all of those things, until all of those things feel essential and easy. I was twenty-two, just out of college, boxes left unpacked and ready for an apartment in my first-job town an hour away: not on the prowl for midnight dives. But he took my hand. And dive we did. And since then that water has been always in our ears.

Today I am thinking about that, about the sound of water. Or about the sound water makes when it comes in contact with something else. The splat of rain against windows, or the ping against aluminum canoes. The whispering of streams and singing of rivers careening over rocks, the thunder of a waterfall. Water being poured into a glass. The drip of the faucet. The chugging of wash machines. The slice and whoosh of a duck or a paddle or a body splitting open the surface of a lake, diving down. And then how it rushes back, the water, always seeking out the state of balance.

This summer, he and I drive down freeways to get to work, the day starts at dawn with an alarm clock called Son, and we often play the same songs over and over because they are what our little boy loves, what he claps for, what he sways to, what he points at: "One more?" We have our own home. Two careers. Several bottles of bug spray. Our driveway of responsibilities is so much longer than it was ten years ago, that the thought of playing basketball under the swirl of dusk sounds like some movie we watched one humid June evening, back when we were very young.

Last weekend, though--young or old, tired or rested (what are these but words?)--we did walk to the lake. Not Deep Lake, as the dock on that plot of land has been sold. And we didn't dive in, as we had our phones and wallets in our pockets and our son's hands to hold. But we did step into that water up to our knees. We let our boy throw rocks and sand. We felt the undulations of other mid-lake rhythms sweep toward us and against our bodies in the forms of small waves that we heard break in soft swishes against the seaweed along the shore. There was no talk about that summer ten years ago, or any of the summers between now and then. From what I remember, we didn't talk in that moment much at all. And as much as I'm trying, I can't recall what shirt he wore. But I do know this: when his gaze held mine, hovering there above the surface of the lake, we were still hearing the same thing.



22 comments:

  1. Emily, just showed your last post to my husband, Dave. His immediate response was, Wow, she's a great writer. Thanks for sharing your talent.

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    1. Thanks, Pat (and Dave!). I'm writing less these days, so affirming words like these are part of what keeps me at it. :)

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  2. Beautiful! Thanks for helping me remember... We celebrate our thirty-third anniversary tomorrow, but those feelings seem like only yesterday.

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    1. The original version of this was actually an anniversary letter to my husband, which he let me rework and publish here (the dangers of being married to a writer with a blog :). It's a vulnerable piece, I suppose, but in my experience, that's the kind of writing that most reminds me how similar we all are down deep, so I felt it was appropriate to share here. Thanks as always for reading... and happy anniversary to you, too, Leonora!

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  3. What an incredibly beautiful love story. Your words wash like water across my heart this morning as I think of my own love, the man I've loved for more than 32 years.

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    1. We are both lucky, I think. Thanks, Audrey.

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  4. Emily:

    In the sound of that water, I hear love growing and a family flourishing; by a perceptive, sensitive, wife and mother. Your writing draws your readers into introspection; and warms our hearts.

    With gratitude,

    Richard

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    1. Thanks, Richard. Your comments are always generous, and I appreciate your sense of compassion. Life is big and messy and hard to make sense of sometimes. I guess I try to write my way through to something I can stand (or float) on.

      Be well!

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  5. What a lovely memory to have, and to create lovely new ones too. Beautiful writing.
    Bec x

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  6. It's just remarkable to me how vulnerable you can allow yourself to be in these posts, without even a hint of pathos, or sentimentality, or "over-sharing," as the phrase has it today.

    I'm sure you know your family relationships, if not rare, are more rare and precious than they should be. It makes me happy for you.

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    1. Linda, I'm grateful for these words. I cross the line into sentimentality on a regular basis, I think, but at some point, I stopped worrying about it (at least mostly :). And yes, I know I'm one of the lucky ones. It also helps to remember how very much the same we all are, too--how very very human are all the flaws and imperfections.

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  7. The ebb and flow of life so beautifully written.

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  8. New love that has blossomed into lasting love makes the best writing, the best story, the longest lasting tale. Thank you for sharing this Emily. I enjoyed every delicious word! Have missed your writing so, so much!

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    1. Thanks, Bill. I appreciate that! When I think about it, and when I actually find time to sit down and do it, I miss the consistent writing, too. However, this summer has really helped me internalize how quickly time passes with young ones, and how magical moments with them can be. The words will still be there when the little boy isn't. More to come!

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  9. Reading this made me think of some of the most beautiful and unexpected junctures in my life, and how they've led to love, laughter, adventure, and completeness. And how, so often, these moments were backdropped by a crisp mountain lake, tall peaks reaching for the blue, or a simply, a perfect shirt. Thanks for that.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Lisa. The older I get, the more I realize how much truth is revealed in the spaces these junctures create. They are where we are tested and where we grow. (And it certainly helps if they are backdropped by somewhere beautiful... something about an open body of water makes life lessons easier to take in, don't you think?)

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  10. Just read this. So beautiful. Please never, never, ever, ever stop putting your words into the world.

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    1. Thanks, May. And--and I know you understand what I mean by this--I will try.

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  11. Gorgeous writing. What a treat this was this morning.

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    1. Thanks, Teresa. Your comment was a treat this morning, too. :)

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