Sunday, October 31, 2004

Another Anniversary

Today marks two years. Two of the most romantically fulfilling years of my life. Granted, my life is only made up of 25 years, but I was not expecting this kind of contentment when a blonde, muscle-bound young man started slipping me corny, yet wildly original, poems at work. It turns out that this athletic "Ah-nold" disciple (with great calves in my opinion and "mind-blowing biceps" in his) is also as dedicated in his relationships.

And I know that the skeptics reading this, both married and single, are shaking their heads or smirking that I feel "romantic fulfillment". Well, snicker away because this incredible man from humble Kentucky roots has turned into a man worth loving - a man worth trusting - a man with a heart so full of love for me, that it spills over with loyalty; a treasure chest for my insecurities and for my dreams. His heart beats for mine. I can put my hand to my chest and hear the music his would make beating alongside. An unforced rhythm - an easy love.

We are separated by miles and dreams to chase. He is finishing up a degree, a piece of paper that he probably deserves more than I did. I am trudging a crowded path in the arts. He says he can hear me in his big, empty house. I say I can feel him run his fingers through my hair. He says he can feel my fingernails run across his back. I say that I close my eyes and sit still until I know exactly the scent of his breath on my cheek - know exactly the touch of his calloused hands on my belly - know exactly the taste of his full lips.

We talk on the phone tonight. We wish each other a happy anniversary. And in those few, awkward, long-distance pauses - the ones filled only by background noise - by the commercials he's not watching and the radio station I'm not swaying to... In those moments, I hear his devotion and I send him my love.

And we look toward the year to come... together.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

A Lesson in Following the Rules

I am seventeen on this day and have just come home from Europe. My yellow-walled bedroom is packed tight with suitcases, dirty clothes, and souvenirs. Jet lag taking its toll, I have just woken from a 19 hour slumber and my mom is already on me to get my dirty clothes to the utility room. (Normal families refer to this as a "laundry" room, I believe.)

I am seventeen and my little brother is thirteen and in his excitement to welcome me home and hear about my trip (and receive his souvenir), he throws open my bedroom door and yells, "WELCOME BACK!"

This is a mistake.

We have a few understood and rarely broken rules in the Whitaker household:
1. Answer the phone, "Hello, this is the Whitaker residence."
2. Milk with at least one meal of the day.
3. Always knock before entering a closed-door room.

My brother and I both suffer a tremendous dose of embarrassment as he breaks rule 3. I have just dropped my towel and am digging through my suitcase for a clean anything-to-wear when I look up to see the horror stricken face of my little brother. I scream. I scream like I have never screamed before. I scream as though a serial killer has entered my bedroom with a meat cleaver. He shuts the door - fast. I hear him race down the hall - fast. I get dressed in dirty clothes - fast.

This all happens very quickly, but moments like those seem to go on forever. It's exactly like the movies:
ALECIA: (in drawn-out high screechy voice and slow motion ) "Noooooooooo!" as I cross myself and hit the floor.
MATT: (in drawn-out deep low man voice and slow motion) "Noooooooooo!" as he covers his face with one hand and pulls the door closed with the other.
I chuckle as I write this, but believe me when I say: IT - WAS - AWFUL.

To this day, I'm not sure what he saw, but brothers and sisters have a way of talking about those things without ever mentioning them. At lunch a few minutes later, I sit down in my normal chair - across from my brother and sister, between my mother and father - and Dad says Grace. It's on special occasions that Dad says Grace rather than all three kids (which can be a lot of Grace when you're hungry). Dad thanks God for bringing me home safe and sound and tells Him how much, "We've all missed seeing Alecia".

Matt begins giggling. He starts shaking. He is a quiet boy who is now laughing hard and loud into his clasped hands, so I start to giggle and my bewildered father has to hurry his Amens along. And as Mom fills our plates, we look up at each other - over mashed potatoes and roast beef - and know that everything is cool.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Sixteen Wheels and a Disco Ball

My mom grew up in a within-city-limits house in Cynthiana, Kentucky; but way out of town, past the Convenience Store and the river, past Oakwood Baptist, past Larry's Bar & Grill, way way way out of town - you get deep in country. You get into curvy roads and tobacca rows and one-lane bridges. Out there, you get to the house where my dad lived; an eighth of a mile from Charley's Roller Rink. That's how much my mom liked to roller skate when she was early twenty something... And that's how convenient it was for my dad to work there.

As Dad cleaned the skates and polished the floors, Mom came with girlfriends, donning her own personal pair - the cute kind with bobby balls at the end of the strings - the only time my mother has ever been fashionable. (This is around the part that she would say I begin romanticizing things.)

My mother, six-feet-two with roller skates (though she would claim five-feet-fourteen inches) skated gracefully around the rink - forwards, backwards, sideways, dipping under the limbo stick with ease - long deep brown hair and sparkling hazel eyes... the ones she gave me. My dad, five-feet-ten before the skates (do the math) falling in love with this younger, modestly beautiful woman. Not the skater she was, he romanced her with gaiety - my dad, the non-stop joker, the entertainer, the 'glass half-full' older man sweeping her off her skates before she knew it.

I like to think of them during the Couples Skate. I like to think of Dad's manager sensing his anxiety to skate with her and letting him off the clock for just one slow song. The lights go real low and the Disco ball casts white dots like jewels on the hard wood floor - Dad struggling to stay up, Mom skating backwards, holding his hands, and them seeing so much future in each other's eyes... in each other's same hazel eyes. Eyes sparkling like the disco ball - jewels yet to come.