A year ago, today, I sat with Paige on the northern headland of Galiano Island in British Columbia and stared out onto the sound, looking for words to contain the emotional flood of one tremendous day and its aftermath.
I wrote, Paige sketched. I read, she listened. We reflected. These are the words that emerged to describe our wedding and the first few days of our marriage. They hold as much truth a year later as they did then:
Pure and absolute. An immense feeling of being filled up, as if we were an open pitcher and everyone was pouring droplets pricked with love to collect and swirl through our blood. The love drops remain, a sensation the body cannot forget.
The confluence of our two selves was conceived over hundreds of years. Generations of hardscrabble, choice, and care shaped the people, place and opportunities of the present. Our ancestors—those we met and those we did not—envisioned celebrations such as this as they raised their families and sent them to flourish and spread good in the world. Seeds beget trees and trees form forests. We saw them watching all day with their generous, smiling eyes. We thanked them. This day was not confirmation as much as continuation, the next stitch in an elaborate tapestry.
How infectious joy is! How it runs like the wildfire engulfing patterned life and turning it into wild heat and smoke that singes and curdles the air, spreading wide and far.
There is a reason that life passages are marked by a coming together across cultures and time. It’s a reminder of the beauty of shared human experience, a reaffirming of belonging
to a group that knows you and cares about you and the space you fill in the world. It’s easy to forget in the swing and fling of our lives that there is a body of people out there that forms and reforms around us and cradles and creates us, just as the mountain both creates and cradles the cascade. These are the bonds that give form to us but once you examine them closer you realize they are indistinguishable from the substance of us.
Our boat—small as it is—is held together by a strong hull. The supple boards are mated tight, the resin plugs them up. It won’t leak from the bottom. If it capsizes, the hull remains afloat. There is always a place to build from.
Shared dreams are tactile now; the wildest and biggest one has already come true.
As soon as we placed our hands together when she reached the end of the aisle. The immediate grounding of holding hands whose weight and texture we know better than our own.
A walk at the end of the night along moon-drenched fields when the music has stopped, the guests have passed into sleep, and the celebration has come to a close, and all that remains, no, everything that remains, is held in a hand clasp and the familiar cadence of two pairs of feet on a dirt path.
An attention to the grammar of intimacy. The exchange of touch, the cultivation of speech, the nourishment of gratitude.
It arrives with the first quiver of disagreement when we realize it’s silly to argue with someone we’re going to live with for the rest of our lives. We’re accountable to offer our best self to our partner and if we can’t, we’re accountable to explain why.
This sets in when driving west into the sun over desiccated, basalt scablands towards a coast too far off the horizon to imagine. It’s the descent off of more concentrated joy than we’ve ever experienced before. We want to return to that time and place and moment that has already slipped into the past.
We realize that the person who will remind us to inhabit joy and presence everyday is sitting right next to us. Nurturing this joy and spreading it will be our lifelong adventure.