14 February 2014

Dear You - My Valentine: The First Time I've Acknowledged This Day With Sincerity

In a world increasingly populated by personal opinion, it’s easy to forget the real meaning of blunt, that it’s actually the opposite of cutting and sharp. By definition, it means “uncompromisingly forthright.” Sometimes being blunt doesn’t mean swearing or drinking or saying your kids are annoying the shit out of you. Sometimes it means saying exactly what you feel. Sometimes it means being vulnerable. Especially for us unsentimental types, it’s way scarier being forthright about our warm, fuzzy feelings than it is to muse on less, ahem, acceptable topics. (Exhibit A: the Being Naughty tab of this site)
If we’re truly committed to uncompromising forthrightness about ourselves and our perspectives of the world, we must show all of it. In my case, it’s a letter I wrote to my husband shortly after the birth of our second child. We were on holiday in rural France, getting dirty and exploring the grounds of a magnificently aged chateau and basking in the luminescent sunlight. All of our everyday stressors suddenly were at the bottom of a deep stream, far away. I found myself glowing with love for the man I often take for granted. As anyone with a marriage license and any number of children knows, these moments become sparse when the babies begin to arrive. Especially in those first murky months of sleeplessness and chaos, and especially especially after kid number two rolls around. Quality alone time? Romance? They are things as fantastical as a unicorn laying golden eggs. After a near-magical night out at a fancy restaurant and a wild drive on country roads, I was compelled to capture the way I’d felt that night, that week, to bottle it up tightly, to record it. Little did I know how precious these words would be to me later on, how often I would revisit them, and how effective they’d be in extracting me from some of my darkest hours.
Dear You,
Someday we will look back at this time with longing, this breath-short period in which we are young and beautiful, our children younger and even more beautiful, and the future something intangible, bright. A few days ago I awoke on the arched back of a quiet morning and was filled with such gratitude I could hardly draw a breath. Normalcy for us is something exquisite.
Our chateau is the kind of place where only some of the locks to the outside function, where the loudest noise in the walled garden is bees trafficking pollen from the pear tree to the wall of honeysuckle, only occasionally rivaled by birdsong or the muffled cough of a tractor. I pick wild strawberries in the garden outside our bedroom while our children take their midday sleep, the unfiltered sun warming the spot between my shoulders. The berries, no bigger than marbles, lie hidden under the plants’ squat canopy, candy-sweet and lightly red. I leave no leaf unturned in the pursuit of sweetness. May we always remember to do the same.