The Summer of ’89

June 23, 1989

That was the day a genuine, glorious and true miracle did take place at the County Clerk/Recorder’s office and I am here to tell the tale.

A young girl in a borrowed and blue Gunne Sax dress held a little baby boy, bouncing him like a bartender working a cocktail shaker, while shading his little face from the already too-warm June sun. Today was her wedding day and the little guy, her infant son. She never did anything the “right” or “normal” way, so it wasn’t wholly unusual to have her almost 6-month-old son at her wedding.

The bride-to-be had thoughts running marathons inside her mind, as most brides of all ages, shapes and sizes do when it is finally their wedding day. Dreams from their childhood have morphed into reality with blooms bursting forth on flowers, like trumpets heralding royalty’s arrival; the dress is a masterpiece, a work of art and a bride is as close to a princess as any young girl can be. Her knight in shining armor has no fiery steed to ride and yields no sword, but would fight for honor, nonetheless.

On this day, her knight was nervously chain-smoking with friends. They were all huddled in shade, the most precious commodity of the day. Watches were being checked with great frequency, suit jackets removed and any attempt to stir the warm air was being utilized. Someone had brought a bouquet of flowers and their sweet, soft smell contrasted sharply with the gritty scent of hot asphalt on a summer’s day, just as those childhood dreams contrasted sharply with the scene before her.

You see, she never dreamed of being rescued by a prince. She never thought much of wedding dresses, rings and bouquets and vows. She had dreamed of freedom, of new faces and exciting places. She didn’t pretend to be a princess, but a captain of a ship. Sailing the seven seas, exploring new lands and basically, having a honeymoon with no husband. She dreamed of blue skies, beautiful castles, of rainstorms and rivers; travels far and wide and tales for the telling.

Her son’s fingers pulling on her hair brought her back to the present, her wedding day. Her eyes searched the sidewalk, seeking out her soon-to-be husband and locating him with a nervous smile and wave; his nervous energy palpable to her even across the distance. She loved him in a way she hadn’t believed possible; completely and without reservation or limitation. He was a good man, the kind they say are hard to find, but through the grace of God, luck or some great Cosmic joke, she had found him. Or perhaps more accurately, they had found each other.

What is the miracle, you say?

The miracle is that a girl who believed she was unlovable found a boy that loved her and together they brought a beautiful soul into this world. The miracle is that they found each other, in spite of the odds being stacked against them.  All of the hope, every wish and dream was contained in that kiss.

She felt perfect happiness in their imperfect union and even though there were no guarantees, she felt she had been given a rare and beautiful gift that must have been sent to her in error. Nevertheless, she wanted so badly to believe she was deserving and would do her best to prove it for the rest of her life.

Many decades later, the young girl has become a not-so-young/not-so-old woman and her son is grown to be the man she’d hoped so many years ago. He is kind and gentle, caring and warm like his father; he is impulsive, mercurial and maddening at times like his mother. Mostly importantly, he is creative, talented, articulate and unique like himself.

The moral of this story is that happy endings don’t always end with the phrase “they lived happily ever once they divorced, he remarried the love of his life and she spent a lifetime in therapy and (has almost) learned to let that shit go…” but that is how this story ends.

Once she realized that loving herself was the answer to every question, the salve for every wound, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. All of the doubt, the criticism and self-loathing were laid to waste when she fully opened her heart and poured out  love and forgiveness, compassion and grace like lava from an erupting volcano. Those horrible feelings were transformed to love, the painful wounds on her soul were washed clean and healed completely.

And she lived happily ever after.

Happiness is rarely found when you are living your life for someone else, by the rules of society, or religion or by someone’s personal code of conduct. Happiness is often borne of heartache, dark nights of the soul and days of demented thoughts. Happiness often comes from an acceptance, a resignation or a declaration of truth. I don’t believe the happiness I experienced on that day is any less precious because the marriage ended in divorce; I will keep that memory, that gift and know that it was the beginning of a journey that would take me outside of myself, into my heart of hearts, breaking down and laying to rest old demons of doubt, deception and depression. It showed me the many faces of love, the varied and different notes that love sings to us; the beauty that only one who sees with eyes of love can see. Like a perfect sunrise on a beach with only two hearts beating and the surf crashing against the shore, love makes the rest of the world disappear. 

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