Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Long View

We are meandering through the university's arboretum. He shares some work concerns; we discuss these for a time before falling silent. I watch a toddler running, her diaper widening her stance so that her gait is comically graceless. The sight of her persevering over her Pampers prompts me to revisit how much I miss raising little children, which subtly morphs into a discussion of ways we'd be better, or at least different, parents today, were a stork to drop an infant on our front stoop (and no doubt about it, it would have to be a stork). More tired, for sure, we agree, but also more flexible and relaxed. Less covetous of 'me time,' I muse. I credit my husband for refraining to remind me of just how often we've covered this same terrain, for after eighteen years of marriage, we both do our fair share of repeating ourselves. We've come to expect a certain amount of repetition. It's the least of our spousal gripes, of which there has accrued a lengthy if trivial list, surprising to no one.

We inspect the variety of annuals and perennials, make mental lists of those we might wish to plant in our garden. The Latin and Greek names are pleasing to voice: heliotrope and viburnum, lucifer and vinca, lobelia and calendula, coleus and globe amaranth, larkspur and lantana, salvia and alyssum. We walk past older couples and do not feel out of place. We are neither young nor old, which bestows an invisibility that is comfortable, and not even slightly sad. We pass a fountain. I hop up on its rim, and a cool spray mists my lower legs. Young children are running around the fountain. I make way for them to scoot by me. I'm in no hurry.

At one end of the arboretum is an atrium where students and alums marry. It gives way onto a spectacular vista of a lush farm-dotted valley backed by softly rounded hills. We would have liked this spot for our wedding, I say. He nods. We always did agree on things like views and flowers. The easy companionability, that was harder won.

I think, as I have before, that we will weather the shift out of active parenting. I require less and less to sustain me as I age. I expect this to be true for him as well: a partner with whom to walk a pretty path, to share the day's news, to plant seedlings and watch them grow. We do not mind relinquishing our claim on the things that quicken the heart, risk and passion among them, though we are still gladdened to stumble on them every so often. A little goes a long way, don't they say?

What we know is that what we have is enough, not the settling kind of enough but something expansive, even panoramic: that view of the valley, hills, and sky that frames the young couples marrying at the arboretum, the one that says, It's all here. Paradoxical, perhaps, but these days 'enough' seems more than enough.

written in 2013


Rima said...

I missed this the first time around. Loved it - so true.

Christine said...

I hate that sometimes "enough" still isn't quiet doing it for me. Not in terms of my marriage; no, here is jsut something out there that i still need/want/desire. I just don't know what that is just yet. Beautiful writing, once again.