In between a rocky (& unfaithful) 7-year relationship with my high school sweetheart and a delicious shacking up with a 20-year old who still shares my bed–31 monogamous years later, I had a brief foray into unleashed sexual freedom. It spanned about a year’s time, and began in the last weeks of my senior year at college when I no longer had to sublimate my sexuality to sustain societal status, ie. concern myself with reputation, repercussion and relational expectations.
In addition to a med student, a team captain and a ship’s engineer on the ferry from Ireland to France, I initiated sex with a handful of men who had pursued me for many years.
Alas none but the Irishman and the med student (who was cheating on his fiance) could sustain an erection.
I began to question my sexuality.
Was a woman only to be demure?
Was I missing an aspect of femininity that was necessary in bed?
Why did the Irishman want to marry me after an hour in his berth beneath the port window? Why did so many men want to attach themselves to my strength, my soul, my flesh?
All along I had been told that men wanted sex without strings.
It was a lie.
When I first met him, Casey was deep in his passion for all things Native American which made our move to Colorado all the more attractive.
On one of our earliest Christmases together, I gave him a Play Mobil buffalo from their Native American series (to keep the child alive inside); and on another Christmas, my sister gifted him a small set with another buffalo and two figures.
Years later, as new parents, we had saved up enough to buy #3870–the entire Play Mobil Native American world.
We take it out every Thanksgiving. Still.
Early on, however, I was disappointed at the few roles afforded me. While there were several male figures, adorned with headdresses and horse companions, there were only two female figures in the entire set: a woman and a child. (Oh, wait, we’ve just checked: the child is a little boy.)
At the time, I searched in stores, but there were no other women to be purchased. Thus, I spent my time tending the fire and the child, preparing food in the small wooden like bowls, and gathering berries in baskets.
I actually preferred this to riding the horses out into the wild desert, and besides that my long skirt was solid and thus I couldn’t mount the horses.
No matter though, because it’s been some time since I’ve been asked to play (my boys are 22 and 17); which led to me to consider this morning whether I might want to lend the set to neighbors until there are grandchildren in our home.
But then it occurred to me that my neighbors have daughters and what will they glean of the absence of women (and children for that matter.)
Maybe they too will come to forget that they once loved to ride into the mountains when they were girls.
Turns out the Chief’s headdress is removable and I’ve asked my son to check to see if it fits on her head.
I gave up my book and my health to the month of August, to my sister’s wedding, to my roots rising up from the sea and arriving in the mountains, en masse, consuming me, until I’d forgotten why I’d left, who I was, and where I’d been heading.
It’s been more than 3 weeks since they’ve retreated, and still I am combing bits and pieces out of my hair, like seaweed, after an August swim.
I loved it as a kid. Not to eat. Never. To lift up from where it had been drying in the sun and the sand and press between finger and thumb.
Too wet and it would squish.
Too dry and it would crumble.
Just right and it would, POP!
What seaweed remains on me has long gone brittle
or is so mushy as to be unworthy of an attempt at popping.
I could complain about the weather, beautiful from the depths of my feverish days on the couch, and now that I’m standing again, dark and dreary and so cold.
But there’s Houston. And friends with cancer. And the White House. So what does my weather matter.
Still, it’s Tuesday, the last Tuesday before school steals summer, so there are cookies at the Farm Stand up the road.
If I was sick, say with the flu or maybe cancer, I would lie here, on the couch, like I did for a good long while this afternoon, and do nothing, except listen–to the sound of the breeze through the trees–like I once did for an entire summer of afternoons–the summer my mother lay dying, 300 miles away, my belly full with child, searching for my mother’s face in the leaves, for any sign of her wellbeing, and later, his mouth, on my breast–and instead of getting up and pushing through this hangover of family– an August wedding–too many hellos & goodbyes–in too short a time–instead of chasing away this deep fatigue, this ache in my bones, with food or caffeine or distraction, or even this here–these words I’m expressing–I would remain effortless, without choice, with only the rise and fall of my breath, and the sound of the leaves in the breeze, and my life, my living, and maybe even the world, would be better for it.
Except for my husband & son, I spend most every day alone on this hill, on 7 acres (a factor which puts me at risk for dementia, my grown son warns) which leads me to marvel at the number of visiting relatives that passed through these doors–between Thursday and Monday–just about 40!
Not only generations gather at a wedding, but ancestors too.
I brought my Nana’s bowl and filled it with garden kale.
Here’s the last wedding artifact dug up during this, my twentieth anniversary week.
Though my fiance was not entirely comfortable with stepping outside the box, I dismissed the traditional wedding party gifts of cuff links and earrings for something that was very “cutting edge” in 1990:
I remember the evening that Casey and I spent in the mall video store (there was no other place to buy them at the time.) We picked out something special for the 21 people in our wedding party–including our parents. It was so much fun finding a video to match what we knew about each person.
Here’s the list of purchases. It will bring you back. Some are still classics!
The Money Pit
The Breakfast Club
St. Elmo’s Fire
Empire of the Sun
Stand by Me
A Fish Called Wanda
Little House on the Prairie
Winnie the Pooh
This list makes me wonder… what would be a cutting edge, out-of-the-box, gift for a wedding party these days? Or what did you give to your bridesmaids and groomsmen that was original in your own day? Your comments welcome below!
3 month countdown to the wedding. It’s crazy to think that ALL THESE HOURS of planning, imagining, nightmaring, shopping, reading and traveling are all for ONE day.
I’ve enjoyed all the work as much as it’s frustrated and worried me. I don’t think Casey feels the same. Ironically, it was he who wanted a big wedding–and I who was apprehensive of all its difficulties.
There’s so much left to do yet. It REALLY is a LOT of work. And now, it’s so close…
Still, 90 days seems like a lot of time. 12 weeks sounds less so. And less than three months–terribly short! Perspective is everything.
Sunday-1: Research honeymoon packages
Sunday-2: Work on wedding vows
Thursday: Tim’s funeral
Friday: Casey leaves to see his grandmother
Saturday: Pick up response cards
Tuesday: Court House Baker-wedding cake
Wednesday: Macy’s for the tux
Saturday: Jackies-hair cut
Sunday: Finish addressing invitations
Thursday: Send invitations
Saturday: On the Town Bridal-pick up wedding pumps
Sunday: Natalie’s Boutique called, my dress is in
Monday: Patricia Jackson for wedding bands
Tuesday: Mrs. Martin’s for flower girl dress fitting
Wednesday: School Board Meeting for honeymoon leave request
Thursday: Eye doctor for contacts
Friday: Pick up Teacher ID for Europe travel
Monday-1: Patricia Jackson’s for wedding band follow up
Monday-2: Mrs. Martin’s for for flower girl fitting
Tueday: Natalies boutique for fitting
Thursday-1: Student Council Meeting
Thursday 2-Patricia Jacksons to pick up wedding bands.
Monday: Bridal shower thank you notes
Wednesday: Natalie’s Boutique for fitting
Friday: Eye doctor to pick up contacts
FLORIDA to visit grandparents
Monday: Process wedding invitation responses
Tuesday: Mattress shopping
Thursday-Eye doctor follow up
Friday: Jackie’s for trim
Saturday-1: Restaurant/Reception planning
Saturday-2: Natalie’s Bouquet, final fitting
Sunday-1:Pat Jackson’s engagement ring cleaned
Monday-1: Mail playlist to DJ
Monday-2: Blood test
Tuesday-1: Staff Meeting
Wednesday: Wildwood Linens
Thursday: Engagement photos, Cape May
Friday: Spring Formal/School
2 weeks to the date. Our wedding day will be a beginning,
and an ending.
What lies before us Casey?
Who knows what is to come–what joys and pains?
Astounding, mesmerizing, life can be… exhilarating and frightening at the same time.
Wedding bands and wedding cake, flowers and dresses, hor’doeuvres and thank you cards. What part hath this in love?
Strange, bewildering, confusing… absorbing.
Sunday, May 6th
I want to be in control on my wedding day–at least before and during the actual wedding. I don’t want to be swept under it or lost in it. I want to know what’s happening and really enjoy EACH moment–like each bite of a sumptuous meal. At the reception, I can be a little gone–I expect that.
Monday: Call hotel
Tuesday: Virgina Hotel for room choice/amenities
Thursday: Eye doctor: contacts follow up
Friday-1: Jackies, hair
Friday-2: Pre-bridal photo shoot
Saturday: Maria’s wedding
Sunday-1: Church organist
Sunday-2: Restaurant/reception final plans
Monday: Student Council Meeting
Wednesday: Rings sized
Thursday: Natalie’s Boutique, pick up gown
Friday-1: Travel agent, balance on airfare JFK to London; Eurail Pass
Journal Entry, Saturday May 19, 1990, 6:00 am
My wedding day…
streams of sunlight run through the window shutters and caress my body,