Friday, May 14, 2010
These pictures, found tucked into an old journal, were both taken in 1976; the first one on September 3rd, the day Gem and I were married. It is of us in our “going away’ outfits following our wedding. In those days you changed out of your bridal gown and tux after the reception, and into a 'going away' outfit. I don't think people do this anymore. We were both only nineteen, four months shy of our 20th birthdays (we are nine days apart in age). We look so impossibly young! Gem’s polyester leisure suit with its pointy-collar shirt was the height of fashion, as was my silky peasant-style dress. I wore platform wedge shoes in the same rust colour as the hat.
The second picture is of me, taken a few days later. I’m wearing the wide-legged, bell-bottomed white jeans which I loved. In the background you can see part of the old truck with the camper-back where we spent the majority of our two week honeymoon. Apart from the first night when we stayed at a fancy hotel in Vancouver, we toured around parts of British Columbia, driving wherever we fancied, spending all our nights in that little camper.
On the back of this photo are written the words, "Jo, Kamloops 1976, honeymoon". This is an especially interesting bit of serendipity because Kamloops is the city where we are moving to next week. I had forgotten that Gem and I had spent a day there during our honeymoon. In all the intervening years we had never had a chance to go back, and now we’ll actually be residing in a place that saw a part of our beginnings. Full circle. It reminds me of an old door I saw recently. Its layers of paint had faded unevenly, blue patched over fading green ... one era glimpsed through another.
I called Gem last night and peppered our conversation with honeymoon do-you-remembers.
I remember driving along highways edged with simmering fringes of daisies as we listened to Abba and Queen, sometimes singing along. I remember the impromptu picnics and little hikes, the swims in glacier lakes which stole our breath and retrieved it in little screeches. I remember the somewhat frightening, but exhilarating kayak paddle through the rapids at Hell’s Gate. I remember the little argument we had about me wanting to look for a place to do laundry and Gem not thinking it important. I remember the day we came across a Fiddle Festival in Merritt and joined in with the stomping, swaying, cowboy-boot-wearing sea of humanity.
It was during my honeymoon that I began my love of old, abandoned log cabins and barns, left to rot, hollow and exposed. It was also where we first saw the Northern Lights, interpreted by the First Nations peoples as the dancing of human spirits. I remember my awe as we watched the night come alive with banners of unfurling green light.
When I look at these pictures and see the hope and promise shining in our youthful faces, we thankfully didn’t know just how tough it was going to be. We’ve been through a lot, Gem and I. We both have our wounds, our dark places, our fears of being broken. We have endured cancer (I am approaching my seven year survival anniversary), our younger son becoming a teenaged father, providing a home for two of our little grandsons for three years, the loss of my beloved brother at age twenty-eight, the death of Gem’s parents, one right after the other.
But we’ve also had immense joys along the way, and like I wrote in another post, life just keeps on becoming. People ask me how we’ve done it ... survived intact despite the odds. I believe that when you can respect each other's personal spaces ... when you can find common joy in countless ordinary days ... when you can reach out of your wounds to each other, in brokenness ... you are open to your deepest sense of belonging and love.
"I always thought that your butt looked pretty good in those jeans", said Gem last night when we talked.
Oh, and a sense of humour is vital, too.
(This is part of Sepia Saturday. For more wonderful offerings, please visit!)