I suppose that spring will always remind me.
If a marriage is a bloom, is a growing, breathing creature of change, winter is it’s anathema, spring it’s mother. A marriage develops in similar ways-the new green of yawning trees, the blinding naiveté like that of the lilacs growing in the ditch. (Of course, it also includes the thawing stench of secrets and hidden poos. It just wouldn’t be that certain shade of new without those hidden minefields.) Then rushes in the burning warmth of late July, with the sweat and the late nights spent staring at the ceiling, too tempered to touch, too tempted to not.
If we’re lucky our marriage falls into autumn, glowing with the flames, cocooned in the comfort of drawing in, drowning in the scents that welcome us home.
If we’re unlucky, we fall prey to winter, and remain frozen in it, immobile and vacant.
My winter is past me now, a year out my limbs are new and wet, glimmering in the brightening light, and I feel renewed, validated and whole. But the memories of that winter, that long, interminable winter linger and drag, a vapour trail of pinched lips and leaking, bitter anger.
But summer is near. I can smell it. I can feel it.
No one starts out that way. I imagine once we mattered to each other, that there was love, something more than teenage lust between us. I always felt that he was a memory I had forgotten, sprung to flesh. Perhaps at 20 or 23 he was, but closer to 30, it was more of a dream turned to nightmare as my mind and body morphed to the left and his roots grew closer to himself. Growth can be value but sometimes, it’s just cancer.
If I’m honest I loved him best as I could, but trapped in my own sadness, my unreasonable anger, my belief that my brokenness defined me. I loved him as a child, I loved him as a half grown feral. But that’s not real love, and that couldn’t break the cold walls. Often I wonder if we wanted it to, content instead to lobby back and forth the barbs and wires, afraid of life outside. Afraid of spring.
It’s easier with what you know, and on dark nights, it can be missed, that person who saw you every day for years and years and years. The strings that tie, not tight but tenuous. A whisper of connection. But not the real one. Not the connection that understands implicitly why tomatoes are so horribly icky outside of those sweet summer weeks when they taste only of the sun and the sweat from your hands.
It was never the connection that understood why my winter anger had to be let loose in silence instead of anger. It was never the connection that understood my strength was in allowing myself weakness. It was never a connection that said “you can, if you want.”
Spring brought me that. And I cannot be angry at the one who couldn’t give it to me, not anymore. He couldn’t. And I never would have let him.
It’s taken a year, a hard winter, and a love I never saw coming to admit that to myself.
It’s my spring gift, my Lenten contribution, my budding flower, this honesty.
We were just babies, the spring of our lives, new and blinded, terrified in some ways, excited. The world beckoned and we shrugged. Why not?
I smell spring and I think of our wedding, of the faces saying no, of the hope we had, the throw away faith that somehow it would work.
And like benevolent neglect in my garden each year it did. Until it finally didn’t.