"What's past is prologue."
Two nights ago, we went to a play. You wore a tie and asked for help on deciding which silver tie clip to wear. You wrapped the scarf around your neck even though you didn't like it. I curled my hair and put on a little black dress and tights, dabbing red lipstick on my lips and spritzing on a rose perfume that you bought for me long ago. I found my heels in the back of the closet, and tried to walk without stumbling. You opened the car door for me. It'd been probably two years since the last time we did this or anything even close to it.
The two of us shared a pasta dish at a dimly lit Italian place. We rolled our eyes at the overbearing waiter, and savored the tiramisu. We ordered water to save money and ate copious amounts of those little bread slices, dripping with oil and Parmesan. We talked about what comes next in our lives: hopefully, your promotion and my graduation. All the talk was about the future.
At the show, we watched silently, thoughtfully. I wanted to close my eyes and somehow absorb the voices as they rose and fell in "Oh, Holy Night". Echos of the refrain reached to the ceiling and back to my chair. The tenderness of the story and beauty of the music was nearly heartbreaking. I had forgotten that heartbreak could have such a lovely, sweet edge to it.
And then, after the show, we stopped by the cafe on the other side of the road, glittering with Christmas lights in the windows. I used to spend moody nights there, drinking something warm and sugary, talking with a friend or writing private thoughts that I hoped would be public someday. It's strange how we leave parts of ourselves in every place we visit.
Sometimes I have dreams about the boy I had a crush on in elementary school. I wonder what life would look like if he was the one who sat beside me at that show. And I know there are girls in your past that you wonder about, too. All the people we thought we would spend life with fell away somehow- maybe they walked away, or maybe we did- and now it's you and I standing here. It almost feels like it was just chance. Maybe it was. We certainly can't say that this was our plan, to meet while you were across the globe and I was afraid for your life. Now we find ourselves with wedding rings and babies five years later.
Everyone likes to caution that marriage is hard, although they say that padded in phrases about how wonderful and rewarding it is. They never tell you why it's hard. They never tell you what that feels like. They talk about the lights and forget all the shadows.
We have been to lows that I didn't know existed. We have tasted the kind of bitterness and ache that is hard to write about it. The battle- because, dear God, it is a battle- is fought on steeper ground each year that these rings stay on our fingers.
It was a little easier, that night at the show. It was a little remembrance of where we started, and the laughter we had, and the drinks that made us dizzy, and the love. The love.
There were many people at the play, crowding around us in their seats with jewelry sparkling, perfume behind their ears, and programs on their lap. They were listening to the chords rising and falling just like we did. I wonder if they saw the trail of our years behind us. Their shadows, crumbled and tired. I wonder if they realized that as the story of the World War One Christmas truce was being performed on that stage, you and I had a truce of our own.
I don't know if we were meant to be here. I don't really understand the way God works, or what twists and turns should have happened, or if this is the master plan. But we are here, still. And it will be five years soon. I can't say I haven't given up, but I've stayed in spite of it, and you're still here, too.
My wish is that this new year will be merry and bright. My hope is that we stop trying to grasp for what we can't ever get back, and begin trying to live in a new way, with new memories and a new foundation. I am the kind of girl who clings to the old, but let's stop. The old is gone.
Let's pretend that we met at that show. Let it be our holy night. Let it be the first day. And there was light.