...and getting ready to stay home a while.
Last Thursday we left Montreal again and went back to our former home on the border of Vermont and New Hampshire for the wedding of a dear young friend. While there we also caught up with several other old friends and family members, in the first few days of the beautiful New England autumn, and it was, to say the least, an absolutely wonderful few days -- a homecoming of sorts, a time of connecting and reconnecting with people we love very much.
The wedding was truly beautiful, and also ended up feeling, to us, like a celebration of our own long connection with a family who were our next-door neighbors, back when we were the age of the bride and groom: we've known the bride from the day of her birth, and are very close to her brother and sister and their parents. There were lots of happy tears and lots of laughter.
The bride had asked me to read or write something for her wedding, and after considering a number of options I decided to try to write a sonnet. During the composition it doubled in size, becoming a 28-line poem, but I managed to keep the whole thing in iambic pentameter. I read it during the ceremony, right after they exchanged their vows. Because it was personal and written for them, I'm not going to share it here, but the whole thing was a wonderful experience for me, and apparently it was moving for other people as well. I'm so glad that they asked me, and that I decided to go ahead and challenge myself to write and present a personalized marriage ode, since that's what it ended up being.
While there, we also celebrated connections in art, in music, in long friendships and in welcoming new life. We visited the home of our friend who is the director of a gallery and art center with which I was once very involved, especially to see her daughter and partner and their beautiful three-week-old baby, and we had lunch with a lifelong friend and musician, now approaching his 75th birthday -- he and I spent quite a while at the piano, listening to his latest compositions and playing some four-hand duets, and talking about his new CD which Phoenicia will be publishing later this year. And we met our niece and sister/sister-in-law at the gorgeous new cafe at King Arthur Flour, a business that's grown exponentially since our early days in Vermont. During the long weekend, we stayed at the home of the other couple with whom we've been very close friends for thirty years, catching up with them and with their youngest son, who's an accomplished guitarist and recent graduate of the Berkeley School of Music, just starting out in his career.
It sounds like an idealized vision of the world -- all this happiness -- but of course that's not the whole picture. These relationships are special because they span a lot of years during which we've shared both the dark and the light times in our lives. Nearly all of the people I'm talking about here, including ourselves, have had hardships, illness, and loss in their lives; part of the reason we wanted to go down and visit right now are the recent deaths of two mutual friends. We talked a good deal about American and Canadian politics and events in Syria and the world - particularly poignant because J.'s father was born in Damascus, and the family has many continuing connections to the Middle East. Economic conditions have affected almost everyone in the U.S., not least of all the young; that subject came up too, along with the changes in society over the past decade and a half.
But the realization, after more than thirty years of relationship, is that nothing is more important than friends and family, and that we want and need to spend more time with the people we love. During these days my heart was so full, both with love I wanted to give, and with love received. It's only later in life, I think, that we begin to understand how love actually works, and that the parables are right: mustard seeds actually do grow into great bushes; a vineyard needs to be pruned and cared for; the wine-jug of love and hospitality is actually bottomless, and we don't need to fear it running dry.
And now we're back home; I'm in the studio with the cat on my lap, thinking ahead to fall, singing, writing, working, and staying put for a while.