Rhythm In My Life
We lay on the riverbank. My head resting on his chest. He always wore big soft sweaters, even in the summer. It was like resting my head on a soft pillow, but this pillow had a heartbeat. It was hypnotic, the way his chest rose and fell with his breath. I was watching the water reflect brilliant variations of white and blue. A small branch stuck in the stream created a ripple that produced this most enchanting display. That’s when I thought it. Will I be listening to this heartbeat when I am old and grey, will it still be there to comfort me? It’s the stuff dreams are made of, right? Falling in love, sharing ambitions, planning a future? I was, in my estimation, lucky enough to find the love of my life at a very young age, he being the ripe old age of 17. I’m not going to say it was love at first sight, but it was definitely an infatuation. He had a peculiarly shaped head, and I may have been the only person in the world who would notice and appreciate such a thing. Not to mention the bright yellow pants and beret he wore. He definitely merited a closer inspection on my part. He had my attention and I liked everything I came to know about him. However, he seemed distant and uninterested and that, more than anything, will spark this girl’s attention. Why doesn’t he see me? Am I not good enough for him? I suffered all those insecurities that can surface in any young girl’s ego. Later I would find out that it was just his attempt at “playing it cool.” He had never had a girlfriend, and he was at a loss for how to go about getting one. He became a very real presence in my life. He worked down the street from my little apartment and on his lunch breaks he would come visit. Well, maybe … he didn’t really visit. He would say hello and then show himself into my living room, sit down and watch my television.
When his time was up, he said goodbye and then returned to his place of employment. It was very awkward, and inevitably charming. We had met through a mutual friend and, so, had quite a few reasons to wind up in the same location after our initial encounter. It was only a matter of time till we would both come to realize what was happening to us. Love, to me, has a different taste to it, and is often hard to recognize. It’s not a normal crush, or short-lived attraction, but an alignment of body and soul with another’s. We were the right amount of young and dumb to be willing to give it a chance. I suppose it was a real gamble, but here we sit with our little jackpot almost twenty years later. What is a dream if you cannot bring it into fruition? What is a dream when you know without a doubt that you cannot bring it about on your own, when the things you long for depend on another’s ambitions and efforts? I had a lot of specific things I desired in my life that I could not make happen alone. I could not bring children into the world without a husband or willing mate. I could not stay at home and care for those children without having someone to provide for us financially. I lacked the physical strength and mental focus to build a home to shelter us. Yet, there those dreams were, locked inside me, churning with hope and anticipation. All young people dream, perhaps not about the same things as I did, but certainly they have their dreams I think. It just so happened that mine required the willingness to fall in love first. Had I whispered those dreams into any man’s ears I could have easily been rejected or crushed by his response. It’s a tall order to ask of any man. Could you please marry me? Would you please help me bring a litter of offspring into the world? Do you think you might be able to build us a home on top of some rural mountain, far away from the cares of this world? Would you mind if I homeschooled our babies? Can we grow our own food? Could I have a herd of beautiful white goats, if I promise to milk them, and make you cheese and soap? Do you love raspberries? I want the biggest raspberry patch ever. Do you like cats? … and so on and so on. I knew that those could not possibly be the things that a 17-year-old boy dreamed about doing. He was satisfied with long walks along the railroad tracks and short naps on the river’s edge. He was just trying to save up enough money to buy a new car. I knew he was not ready, so I held my tongue. I watched him work and save up the money to buy that car. I waited as he became more and more devoted to me and willing to share what small hopes he did possess. The simple truth was that he did not dream about much. He wanted to have a good life, but he had no concept of how he would achieve it. I knew him to be a hard worker and a faithful companion, and somehow, deep down, I knew he would build me the life I dreamed about. It has not been easy; nothing of real worth comes easy, but my darling has helped me bring every last dream of mine to fruition. It is a peculiar life that I live up here on my mountain. I often feel set apart from the rest of the world. As my second daughter, who is 16 years old now, plays a somewhat melancholy tune on the piano out in the living room, I lie in my bed writing this article, feeling the surreal nature of my circumstance. Those dreams never left me. I want them now as much as I ever did, but now I have them. My husband has worked tirelessly for the past twenty years to make it so. I like to think that my dreams have brought him satisfaction as well. But, honestly, I am not sure if they are even what satisfy me. Nothing brings me more joy than resting my head on his chest, and listening to his strong heart beating. Every time, without fail, I remember that day. The day I wondered if that sound would be with me as I grow old. His breath, and the rise and fall of his chest, have set the rhythm in my life. Those two things have become my most cherished blessing. He has become the vessel that all my ambitions flow from, and for. I know that if I had nothing else but that in my life, it would be more than enough.
Rhythm In My Life