Posts Tagged ‘Love


Jeff and Eric’s wedding sermon; 9/18/04

Jeff and Eric's wedding, 09/18/04

Jeff and Eric contemplate love, their future together, and the color of water, surrounded by friends and family in Minneapolis on Sept. 18, 2004.

Jeff and I recently celebrated the 8th anniversary of our commitment ceremony — let’s just say it: our 8th wedding anniversary — on Sept. 18. Sandwiched this year as it was between the unions of four dear friends, Mark Galante and Erik Sisco (Sept. 15), and Brian Dillard and Charlie Smith (Sept. 23, also my birthday), the anniversary was made even more special. September is getting to be quite a month!
It seems appropriate to revisit the sermon Jeff’s dear high school friend Mark Havel wrote for the occasion, on that bright and cloudless September afternoon, in Deming Heights Park, on the tallest hill in Minneapolis, the City of Lakes.

Sept. 18, 2004, is with me every day, and this sermon still makes me cry.

When Jeff and I began planning things for today—most of which happened over the telephone and by e-mail—he joked that somehow water was becoming a recurring theme for the occasion. The “flowing water of life” we just heard about in the poem by Rumi, and the “Wood Song” and “Water is Wide,” which we’ll hear in a moment, carry the theme pretty clearly. Jeff seemed to think it an appropriate motif to latch onto somehow, being in the land of 10,000 lakes and all. (Now I’m wondering if it had something to do with the shower at The Saloon …) I’m not going there, but I did decide to run with it, anyway.

And, the first thing that popped into my mind was the title of a book by James McBride called The Color of Water. It’s a book about a biracial boy growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, in New York and Delaware. He was raised by his eccentric, white, Jewish mother who converted to Christianity when she married his African-American, Christian father. Because of the time in and circumstances under which they lived, you can imagine that race and religion were very much a part of his coming of age and self-understanding.

And as he came of age, as he struggled with his identity, as he wondered about how and where he fit into the world around him, the boy asked his mother one day about what God’s spirit looked like. For me and for all the theology I’ve studied, his mother’s answer was as strange and as simple as it was profound. She said simply, “God’s spirit doesn’t have a color. God is the color of water.” Continue reading ‘Jeff and Eric’s wedding sermon; 9/18/04′


What French Fries Can Reveal

While he shakes his ketchup out of the bottle into a neat puddle on the side of his plate, I always drizzle it Jackson Pollock-like across my own nest of French fries. It reminds me that no matter how long I have known him, and no matter what lies ahead of us, sometimes we two are strangers.


Objets d’Amour

I like to have objects around me that remind me of Jeff

When I’m tearing through the house in the morning, getting ready for work, making lunches (for both of us), replaying and rehashing the argument from the night before, rehearsing stupidly the things I SHOULD have said, I get stopped by a rose standing in the center of the dining room table. He brought that rose home the night before Valentine’s Day. It’s from Rite Aid or somewhere. Not a big deal. But it was a surprise. And it was after I’d sent him out after his own cigarettes when I’d refused to get them for him. It is a lovely single red rose, which always looks dramatic and beautiful by itself. I was so delighted by it, and if I could I would keep it forever.

It reminds me of what’s important. Not the stupid argument, which we were pretty much over by the time we went to bed — until I had my and-another-thing moment in the shower in the morning.

I certainly hope Jeff has a similar outlook about love-infused objects. After keeping him awake all last night by moving in my sleep, I feel terrible. And I’m kinda scared of what revenge lies in store for me. Maybe he’ll look at a photographn on his desk and remember that he loved me … once … well, heck, Eric isn’t all that bad, is he?


The One I Love

I’ve been saying for years now that one of the supreme advantages of being in a long-term relationship is the ability to fall in love with the same person over and over. It’s comforting, yet strangely, every time it happens it sort of takes me by surprise.

Sometimes when I wake Jeff up before he’s ready to get up, he swats at me and grimaces and groans. But sometimes he’ll wake for a moment, open his eyes just a crack, see me and smile. In that moment, his brain is working on just the basics: His heart is beating, he’s breathing, he’s digesting. Yet, he has the reserved energy to smile. At me.

Of course, he’s off to sleep again in an instant. But for that brief moment, I know he loves me. He feels safe. He feels happy. And that’s pretty cool.


Patience and Fortitude

Today is the first anniversary of my wedding day. Jeff and I celebrated with a quick walk around the environs of the New York Public Library building at Bryant Park, where, three years ago, he proposed to me, and a quiet dinner out in the West Village.

Patience flanks the south side of the NY Public Library front steps. (

Standing just behind the marble lion on the south side of the front steps, Jeff distracted my attention toward some pigeons or something, and when I turned back, there was a small, gray box sitting in front of me on the low wall surrounding the terrace. What else could it be but a ring? Its sudden appearance was still a total surprise. And the first thing I thought was “Why didn’t I propose to him first?” And then “How long has he been planning this?” I snapped open the lid and looked at the simple white gold band, and I hardly knew how to look at him anymore.

“Will you marry me?” he asked. And wishing I could say something more heroic, I took a deep breath and said “Yes.”

After slipping the ring on and holding Jeff for a good long time and looking back and forth several times between his tearful eyes and the shining ring, we walked away together to explore the city.

Incidentally, as we turned to go, we saw we were in front of a Starbucks and were sort of amused and horrified at once. Had he just provosed to me in front of the Starbucks? Technically, yes. And looking in three directions and seeing three more Starbucks, we realized there was little chance in Midtown Manhattan of not proposing in front of one.

This was two years before we moved to New York. September. Jeff thought the library was simply a good bookish place to propose to a former English major. And I loved him for making that choice.

When I later learned that the two lions in front of the library building are named Patience and Fortitude, the appropriateness of that location was even more clear, whether Jeff intended it or not. After love, what are the most essential ingredients of a relationship? Patience and fortitude: a willingness to deal with not only your own problems, but also the challenges someone else brings to your life; and the strength to do it again and again.

And again.

Jeff and I got into a stupid fight the night before our anniversary. We were drunk, and I was being stupid. It was not the way either of us wanted to start our second year of marriage, but there it was — poorly timed, but when is a good time for an argument. I slept in the second bedroom and woke up clear headed enough to remember almost everything from the night before.

We’ve had some spectacular fights in the last eight years. Nothing physical. We don’t duke it out. We just suddenly snap and bark at each other like young dogs. Once I slammed the bedroom door so hard it I broke the door jamb. Once Jeff threw a brick of sharp cheddar on the floor. Broken plates. Overturned ashtrays. Nothing that can’t be swept away.

And we still enjoyed our pilgrimmage to the library today, albeit after sleeping in until mid-afternoon and sheepishly tip-toeing around the apartment. We visited our little sacred spot behind Patience and kissed and held on to each other like our lives depend on it — because they do. We still had our dinner out at his favorite place, Good (which was not-so-good tonight, as it happens). We got dessert at a café with a few friends and had an early night in watching a movie and teasing our cat.

Because we can.

With patience and fortitude all this marvelous mundanity can be ours.

The Starbucks is no longer on that terrace in front of the library. The lions aren’t so easily moved. Those marble guardians stand against time and the elements. And in a way, so do we. We stand against a legal system that is only reluctantly starting to accept us but still doesn’t recognize my marriage, a population that pendulates between misunderstanding and ignoring us, and patterns of self-destructive behavior that threaten to divide us from our friends and family and each other. Witness last night: We can clearly stand against each other. But even in doing this, we do not stand apart. In the end, we always settle in to a soft, close, quiet place and sigh and take a moment to look around at the leather-bound volumes of our years together and find a sense of pride and accomplishment and relief. We remember how important it is to stand together, guarding this little relationship of ours.

P.S. We’re now looking for statues named after “wisdom,” “beauty,” and “financial responsibility.” If you have any leads, let me know.

the untallied hours