Dinner For Two
Abiqua Falls · Abiqua Creek · Scotts Mills · Oregon · USA
Three hundred and sixty-five days ago I stood nervously beneath a homemade chuppah of white birch and listened as Ennio Morricone's “Dinner” lilted from the speakers. The intro slowly crescendoed, each throaty chord building upon the last, matched by a steady upwelling in my chest until I thought I couldn’t take it anymore. It was as if the cello strings bridged my own heart, and Yo-Yo Ma was intent to bring me closer to genuflexion with every draw of the bow. Then at the very last, just as my heart was ready to give at the seams, the melody mercifully gave way to soothing verse, and slowly, finally, I exhaled.
I watched you round the corner of the venue, linked arm in arm with your beautiful mother and your loving father at either side with a crown of leaves and flowers adorning your head, a graceful organic complement to the pristine elegance of your wedding dress. What breath I’d managed to draw in that brief melodic reprieve, the sight of you immediately snatched away again. And as you approached, I think the only thing that kept my tears at bay was the final quelling of that unshakable fear that I just might ultimately find myself alone there at the altar that day. I know it was irrational--a betrayal I know you’d never be capable of--but the reality of the moment seemed just too amazing to be true. I stood there, a modern-day Prometheus whose gift of fire came to him, at once salvaged and spared by the impending consecration of our union.
And then suddenly it was just you and me. There.
And in every one of the three hundred and sixty-four days since, not a day has gone by that that song hasn’t stirred in my soul, complementing your ever-growing presence in my heart and challenging all notions of finitude. This has occurred by no conscious effort on my part, but rather by the undeniable force of your unwavering love, support, and commitment to me. And though I still tease with you from time to time about how undeserving of it all I am, I know by now that's beside the point: You have given yourself to me with abandon and liberated me in the process, and I owe it to you to offer you the same peaceful sense of freedom and security. The world before us is wide-open with ample room to roam, and I’ll do everything in my power to retain the privilege of venturing into it with you at my side.
Ashley, thank you for your friendship, your thoughtfulness, your passion, your affection, your sacrifice, your patience, your family, your faithfulness, your faith, your humor, your endearing smile, your calming touch, your spirit of adventure, and your tolerance for the odd misadventure every now and then; thank you for sharing your tears in both joy and sadness, laughter and heartache, elation and frustration; thank you for your willingness to be the shoulder I need every bit as often as you may seek mine. I never could have dreamed that I'd be blessed in this life with a partner like you…
Sitting beside me night after night, at a table set for two.