Friday, March 30, 2012

Climbing a Hill Together

On the top of Mt. Galiano, Galiano Island, B.C.
I've always yearned to live in community, to do the hard work of learning to love another person, stinky feet, messy house and all. Originally, the plan was for some sort of compound where others with similar ideals (like-minded, but not too like) would co-exists in perfect balance. After I got married, it still seemed possible. If everyone was as conflict-averse as we were it would work out just fine.
But then the girls came along. Two more people did not double the interactions; community is an exponential experience. Now I am content to work for kindness in a smaller community.
We were making hearts with our shadows, see?

It had been cold down on the water but as we got away from the edge, the sun quickly drove us to shed what layers we could. We stashed our coats behind a tree and made a blaze in the path so we could find them later. About halfway up the mountain we realized we hadn't brought nearly enough water but we rationed carefully and made it to the top in good spirits. The view was spectacular, looking out over the islands, a life-sized relief map of the navigational charts I had studied on the trip up. I could see the current flowing through the tight passes, the power all the stronger for the nearness.
The girls ran ahead on the way down, scaring us a little. We took separate trails to the bottom to make sure we didn't miss them but they had found the right path. "Just running a marathon," they said. The walk back down--that's the thing about climbing a mountain on an island, you have to start at sea level--was long and hot, but ended with ice cream and a cheerful row back to the boat. Any way you measure it, that was the highest point on our journey, so the next morning we turned south and began the work of returning, the power between us all the stronger for the nearness.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Ring

A little story from last month's writers' group.

He knew she'd always wanted a ring. She wasn't a necklace kind of girl, a which-one-to-wear-today girlfriend. She wanted something for everyday wear. It was winter, the land at rest, so he couldn't just walk next door and offer Mike his strong arms. Couldn't just spend a week in the hot sun stacking bales of green energy seven high. "There's always work in the shop," Dad had said, but for him, the shop manufactured tedium and he dreaded the monotony. 
She was worth it though, and a week or two later found him in the little jewelry shop in town, awkwardly craning to see the underside of all the little white price tags in the case on the end. He finally settled on a simple band of rubies. Nothing flashy or juvenile. He hoped she'd like it.
The night of the party, he hid the box in the glove compartment, hid his nerves behind a young man's kiss. She was smiling, fragrant, glowing. More sparkle than he could handle. He closed her car door and slid behind the driver's seat, wondering if he'd made the right choice. How could something so brilliant be content with his solid simplicity? How would he hold up to everyday wear?