12.22.2008

Anniversary

I don't write as eloquently or remember things as clearly as my wife, but if I didn't post SOMETHING, I'd feel like I was being unfair to my beautiful companion, that she wouldn't know how glad I am that she hasn't found anything better after so many years. Anniversaries are a time for arrogance, for feeling your love is so important that someone else can't do without it. The other day, I was putting together Amanda's anniversary present for this year - in classic Jason style, I then blushingly left it on her desk for her and went off to scrub the kitchen counter or something, never telling her why I gave it to her for her anniversary. This year, I found a card box, some Hallmark device in which you're supposed to store all of your treasured old Hallmark cards (presumably, if you try to slip in an American Greetings card, teh box looks at you in disgust...), down at Big Lots. It's not the nicest box, I in fact, had to use a bit of masking tape on it, but Amanda has, presumably since long before she met me had a little square box in her closet, an old battered cardboard recycled box. Inside, she had all her old letters from her best friend Natalie Tiftickjian, nee Salazar. To m e this box always had a sort of mystical quality to it, like, if I touched it, I'd mix something up and forever damage my wife's carefully orchestrated organization (in my defense, I've done this before, in other places, with that result, I think...). But I always felt sorry for those letters, all stuck in a box for something that looked like an Amway product, forever anonymous amongst the other knick-knacks in her chest. I've met Natalie a few times, and usually feel uncoomfortable during the meeting. There are a lot of very excellent reasons for this, historical issues that should cast absolutely no aspersion on Madame Oddstockings as I dubbed her in my brain a long time ago (I don't remember why, now). None of the excellent reasons were really the reason, though. When Amanda and I met, there was a peculiar fire to her, a powerful force that drew me to her, and in those halcyon early days, I basked in it, a funny, tired little thing, and for some reason, she let me bask, even liked me to bask there, to warm myself in her. I fell in love with that secret sun first - the rest of her I've fallen in love with since, in teh slow, quiet way that one falls in love with a beautiful, subtly discovered soul. Shortly into our marriage I, again in classic Jason style, mucked up this lovely light more than once. It's still there, I see it flash once in a while. I don't think I'm, in fact, sufficiently grand to douse a genius like hers. But, I think she has learned a reflexive care with it, now. Natalie is a sort of moon to that sun, something distant, and impassive towards me, but that when it passes through the sky (always, Amanda will attest, with an infrequency that fate seems to have, until recently ordained for their friendship..), it shines a soft reflection of that same halcyon beauty. I've always appeciated Natalie in Amanda's life, because it's a sort of reminder to me that Amanda is eternally precisely what she is, a sort of redemptive ignominy over any mistakes I might make toward my wife. It's hard to explain, and I'm probably botching it up wildly, but it struck me with a clarity the other day, because it was Susan Dickinson's birthday. Emily Dickinson is my one constant over the years. Since early high school, through all the myriad stupid, flighty attempts at various ways of living I've made, through the many transmutations of my identity, Emily Dickinson has been the only thing I've always loved (Amanda would be the one exception, and a stronger one at that, but I happened to meet Emily Dickinson before Amanda... ;) ). She's always been a sort of ideal to me. When she was alive, her best friend, her most frequent correspondent, and her oftimes poetic editor was her Sister-in-law and neighbor, Susan. The letters that she wrote Susan (almost none of the return correspondence survives) are some of the most beautiful examples of Dickinson's writing, and their relationship had a depth that spoke to the intensity of both souls. I've never been a crusader for the theory that the two were lovers (more or less, it's always struck as irrelevant and distracting from what really matters abotu the relationship), but the intensity of their friendship is such that I don't think you can really fully understand Emily Dickinson if you don't look at her relationship with her neighbor. It's the sort of relationship I've seen so seldom that it's difficult for me to really desribe it or comprehend it. Anyway, as I was thinking about this, I realized that, in my mind, Natalie is Amanda's Susan Dickinson. So, I really didn't mean this to be a long diatribe on Amanda's relationship with her best friend - honestly, I've not read there letters, or been privvy to most of there real conversations, and most of my thoughts here are probably pretty clumsy approximations anyway. What I really mean is that, this surprised me for a moment, because I realized,that I think of Amanda in the same way that I think of Emily Dickinson, someone who is beyond mere humanity, mere momentary affections, someone to large for the love of any one soul, but someone at the same time so intimate, honest, deep and soft that she can be preciously, intimately mine, someone whose dashed off words hardly considered for content, can speak volumes to me deeper than the thought out speeches of most souls, someone with the sort of beautiful humanity that at once fulfills one's understanding of the nature of divinity in man, and gently chides you for thinking you understood it at all. So I made this box, because I cannot imagine that someday, someone won't find her, and have the deep need to know who she was. I'm no historian, but I can at least have a little clasped box for her, to put these letters in, so that someday, some little soul who loves what she leaves the world behind can know her well enough to love who she was when she was here. Anyway, thumpedy-thump, blah blah blah. Here's hoping that doesn't sound too crazy. I love you, Amanda.