Marriage: a book of which the first chapter is written in poetry and the remaining chapters in prose.
~ Beverly Nichols
His birthday is the day after mine. Which makes me exactly one day older than him. A fact that I’ve enjoyed rubbing in on numerous occasions.
Her birthday is the day after Valentine’s Day. Always a day late in regards to love.
He lives near the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Always has and probably always will.
She too lives in Minnesota. More toward the center of the state, though. It’s an intentional return to her roots, for along the path of her life she has been found living in many other faraway, sunnier places.
He has always been the quiet one, content to hit the books – professionally speaking – and play the occasional round of golf. He finds the greatest pleasure in mowing the yard.
She has her pensive moments, but is generally more outgoing. She grows vegetables in a greenhouse she built, and writes the most amazing poetry.
He and his wife recently welcomed their first child, a baby boy that shares his name. He was born just last week, and the family is doing well.
She is the mother of paternal twin boys. And she grieves because they will never see their uncle, her baby brother, again. Her family buried him just last week. Her family isn’t doing so well.
He was my roommate in college. We’d watch the Vikings on Sunday afternoons and walk to Wally’s together for supper.
She was my wife’s roommate in college. We’d stay up late, listening to Queensrÿche and talking about relationships and religion. She’d make fun of me for playing air guitar.
They’ve been divorced almost as long as we’ve been married.
I look at pictures from our wedding day. He is at my side, looking way better than me in his tuxedo, a gentle friend with a steady hand. She is at my wife’s side, smashing in her peach gown, her laughter lightening the heaviness of it all. I recall a visit to their home after things settled down, the prose setting in, our stories so different beneath the matching covers. I remember thinking how her extravagant menagerie of treasures looked so out of place within the stoic walls of the house they shared. I marveled at the amount of patience they must have toward one another to make things work. Wondered how often their boat rocked, and contemplated the effort required to right such a wobbly vessel. I wasn’t completely surprised when they split. In a textbook display of self-righteous arrogance, I chose sides and hurt her deeply, more than I’ve ever hurt anyone before or since.
It’s all so much water under the bridge now. There, but powerless. Time coupled with humility and forgiveness have mended the rend, and she has become the iron that sharpens me, the Muse that fans my creative flame when it grows dim. He and I talk occasionally. Though seldom face to face, we did cross paths on his second wedding day. It felt good to take my place in the pew and watch him take this next step in his life, to see that twinkle of adventure in his eye as he looked deeply into the soul of his radiant bride. I applauded his patience, and his willingness to ride the waves once again.
Two friends on separate paths, each well outside the purview of the other. Neither mentions the other when I’m around or asks how the other is doing. And so today, as I’ve done numerous times in the past, I do the impossible, walking down two roads simultaneously. Joy and sadness. Two emotional pathways diverging deep in the heart of Indiana. Each on its own road toward destinations miles apart. Happy and hurting and torn in two. And since I can’t tell them, I’m telling you . . .