Of Whistles and Folds and Saints

Two years ago, it was paper airplanes, ginger tea, and butterflies in my stomach. I was falling in love fast with the man making precise origami folds at my kitchen table, while whistling “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Over the course of a month, I’d been quietly spending time with the Bohemian. In the rare free moments I had away from seven-year old, Jeb, I wandered in the bamboo and swam in the ocean, with this free-spirited soul who had a foreign name and the warmest hugs. Each time he exited my door, leaving his cornucopia offering of guavas, avocados, and lilikois, I braced myself to never see him again. I’d been broken before. I readied myself for the inevitable goodbye by weaving it into our hellos. Hence, I told no one of the Bohemian, especially Jeb.

Until the paper airplanes (see “In the Fold”).

I don’t know what changed. Jeb and I were fresh from Halloween costume shopping, the ritual I’d done with him, alone, for years. He had his wand and glasses, all set for Harry Potter magic. We were home and and I was at the kitchen sink, readying for dinner. Oh, how I wanted to see the kind face of the Bohemian again. And oh, how I feared that the love that was blossoming in my heart would swiftly destroy me in its eventual leaving.

Surges of raw tenderness coursed through my every heartbeat, pumping fresh feeling to the limbs that sliced cheese for Jeb’s snack, took the trash to the curb. I was under the influence, but couldn’t say it. A woman in love, who was petrified. But just brave enough (or foolishly wild from the love drug) to chance it.

Looking back, the only thing that changed was my willingness to risk. I had already surrendered to my own demise. I was prepared to suffer the consequences of my heart’s undoing. But I had been standing guard when it came to Jeb. Introducing my son to the Bohemian meant the gates were opening. And that was definitely scary.

So I kept it all quite casual, of course. Rinsing dishes there at the sink. Talking on the phone with the Bohemian.

Yes, we got a costume. No, I’m not sure what I’ll be for Halloween. Yes, it is a beautiful afternoon. No, we don’t have any more plans for today.

“Hey, would you like to come over for dinner at our house tonight?”

No matter how relaxed I tried to make it sound, we both knew it was more than a dinner invitation.

“Sure. Why not?”

Yeah. Why not?

Why not take a risk?

I had done my mama bear duty. Ascertained that this man was certainly of good will and kind heart. Jeb liked having friends over for dinner. And that was what it would be.

Only a fly on the wall could tell you if it was obvious I was riding out the loopty-loops of turbulence with every paper airplane launched from the Bohemian’s hand that night, post-dinner. Jeb was enamored with his aerodynamic precision. I was in awe of his playfulness.

So when the saints came marching in, via the sweet wind of the Bohemian’s smiling mouth, I thought for sure annihilation was my fate. How could I want something so much and survive the loss if I didn’t get it? Because it was clear. I wanted this.

I wanted the spice of ginger steaming from three hot mugs. I wanted the magic of paper creases fueling flight. I wanted Jeb’s fascinated voice to forever ring, “How did you do that?”

airplane

I wanted to grab that whistling man and my wide-eyed son, wrap my arms around them both and say, “I love this. I want this. I need this.”

I wanted to not be afraid of letting myself feel that wanting. To want it all, completely. Then be strong enough to let it go.

I’m sure the fly on the wall saw it all in me. The fear, the awe, the love. There was some kind of courage there, too. All three of us were brave in our openness. A family in formation, paper airplanes in the living room. Test pilots, creasing, lifting, crashing, landing, creasing and lifting again.

For those that read the Archives, you’ll know I married that Bohemian. Jeb is now nearly ten. We are a family, still lifting and launching (sometimes crashing) and learning everyday.

I took a risk for what I felt I wanted, deeply. And sometimes I still get scared.

That’s when I let myself be buoyed. Held by folds and whistles and saints. Love.

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