On Constructing a Mountain

Twenty years. Two decades. Seven thousand, three hundred days. Three higher ed diplomas between us, and two professional designations (a third pending). Twelve job changes. Three home purchases. Three gardens tended. A baby daughter. A baby daughter, again. A baby son. Three toddlerhoods. Now three childhoods (tween years pending.) Seven cats. Fifty-some chickens. One dog.

Circa 1994. Oh my!
If I could, I would pile all of these things, these memories, like so many stones in a great heap in the center of my yard. Joe and I could stand on the deck this evening, hand in hand, and survey the mountain made of our commitment.
I would want to add a stone each for the many portages we’ve done together. The lakes paddled in rough winds. The still water crossed at sunrise.
He may want to add stones for the building projects we’ve undertaken side by side: two coops, two garden fences, a picnic table, a handful of home projects.
I would add a stone for the quirky hotels in quiet Greek towns from our travel to Europe before kids.
He would pile on stones for basketball games, from the days when I cheered on the sidelines to the early morning games he sneaks while the kids sleep.
Looking back to the beginning, there would be a stack of stones just for the awkward, teenage flirting at the back of the All-State Choir van. More for the inappropriate kisses stolen in shadowy school hallways.More stones for the tears shed at his high school graduation, when I was certain distance and independence would wrench us apart. And again later, for the tears shed when he graduated from college, and I did my own soul searching, sure this time that philosophy and grand visions had left us too far apart. A stone for the leap of faith it takes, now and then, to trust and move forward.
And fires. How many stones would we add for big conversations late at night around crackling wood fires?
Our stone mountain just might command its own gravitational pull.
And that only includes the facebook-worthy moments. We’d certainly want to add a hard-earned stone to the pile for the many successful marital negotiations (bickering?). Especially those from our lives as new parents, when we struggled to find the balance between work, personal interests, and time as a family.
Balance, ha. That reminds me, we should add a stone for the many ideas we’ve clung to, then abandoned as delusional, as we’ve grown over the years.
And illnesses nursed. And fearful moments weathered. And streaks of bad luck outlasted.
And another well-earned stone each for the many times we’ve forgiven one another for missteps and disappointments and misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Twenty years. I started dating Joe when I was fifteen. Our seven-year-old knows how to draw the greater than sign in in that comparison.
This life we’ve built takes my breath away. Inconsequential though they are on the cosmic calendar, these twenty years, and counting, are the center around which all things orbit.




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