All out of proportion to the number of years and the distance in the past, today, with the rain and receding colors of fall, come all the feelings of being separated from the man I wanted to marry -- a long time ago -- a lifetime of raising a family together has come and gone since then, and yet here they are.
All of these feelings, just as if I'd never left them. Just as if we'd never married, or moved so many times, or seen each other through the fears of serious illness or the fears about our children -- just as if we'd never moved here, to where his great grandfather lived with his own wife and six children -- just as if we were still young, and still separated and still trying not to breathe deeply enough to feel the panic of our separation.
Odd. I wonder why certain emotional seasons never lose their intensity. And I wonder what perverse little sprite it is that devilishly dances to the gates and lets the memories flood back, and why the memories are scenes or feelings or moments, and not narratives. I remember the stifling feeling pressing into my chest whenever I thought of the distance between Seattle and Pensacola. I remember the desolation of hanging up the phone after a weekly phone call (in the days before cell phones and email and facebook and blogs and unlimited long distance). I remember barely being able to breathe as the plane carried me out of the Pacific Northwest's air space ... and breathing faster and faster as another plane carried me back into it months later.
One winter, on my way into the Portland airport in a plane full of college students and military personnel, the rain started pelting the windows of the cabin, and everyone stopped talking. The stillness vibrated for a moment, and someone on the other side of the double-aisled, fat-bodied plane breathed out, "It's raining!" Only someone from our wet wet world would ever say that with so much relief and longing ... and everyone laughed.
I was only gone for four school years, and I was only leaving and then waiting to come home to my man for three of those years, and those years were nearly three decades ago, and yet the rain and the cool air ... and maybe my reading for school now and my grappling with ideas of the sort my man used to talk to me about back then ... whoever or whatever has done it ... I remember it again.
To paraphrase Mary Catherine Bateson, we're still us. We're the us we've been becoming for all these years. Today I remember how we started, and it makes me cry a few of those ancient tears.