crystal equinox

Our first day of autumn began with grey skies, nursing a sick child, and the remnants of a rare spat we'd had the night before. It was another long day, Michael tied up with commitments yet still having to grocery shop for the special dinner he planned on making us that night. We were celebrating our crystal anniversary (we chose the equinox for our love of parity) having exchanged rings and recited our vows on a pebble beach skirting Maine's Little Cranberry Island fifteen years ago.

At day's end, the minute we put our snotty, feverish boy to bed, Michael cracked open a bottle of Californian sparkling wine and we toasted to our accomplishment. He gave me a hug and kiss, a huge bottle of Maker's Mark and an exquisite bouquet of white, ivory and yellow red-speckeled zinnias with miniature sunflowers he'd bought from a roadside Mennonite stand. I gifted him a bottle of ten-year-old bourbon proving that great minds do think alike.

As we sipped our bubbly, Michael put his Swiss chard and corn gratin in the oven and I chopped tomatoes, avocados, feta and red onion for a makeshift variation on a Greek salad. When the lamb chops came off of the grill, pink and weeping, we saddled up to our butcher block bar while I read the wedding vows we'd written together so many years ago. We vowed honesty, respect, encouragement, tenderness and, most of all, forgiveness.

After dinner, we perused an album I'd put together back when I had the time to do that sort of thing. We marveled at how young we looked when we were nearly thirty-nine. Pasted onto thick black pages were selfies of our intimate elopement, of me in a flowery vintage prom dress I'd gotten for twenty-seven bucks, he in dark Levi's cords and a vintage pinpoint-polkadot shirt. There were photos of our lobster dinner, and of us drinking champagne while perched on the rocks at sunset looking out to sea.

The following pages included photos from a barbecue reception we'd given three weeks later in the hills across the bay from our beloved San Francisco. Forty of our dearest friends joined us, including a few family members from both sides. The celebration was hosted by our friend Gordon who, just over one year ago, left the world far too early. We miss him, along with so many of our other west coast friends. Guests brought salads and yummies for grilling. My friend Gwen, who couldn't attend, made a lovely cake. Gordon poured some of his handcrafted beer.

At the back of our wedding album is an envelop with keepsakes: a menu from a family dinner at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse, an Apache blessing from my friends Doniece and Sadik, a map of the Cranberry Isles, a letter from my friend Aya in Japan who I met just once when I was traveling in Europe at twenty-four, a Chinese fortune, the key to our room at San Francisco's King George Hotel where Calvin was conceived during a return visit a year later, cards from loved ones including my mother and a funny one from my sister that remarked on the resemblance between me and Michael in the photo on our invitation, and how some FBI guy from her office saw it and joked he was going to turn us in for "lewd family behavior."

By nightfall the equinox skies had cleared and the stars came out, shimmering like crystals. Today, it is warm and gorgeous, with wild purple aster, similar to the kind I used in my hair and as a wedding bouquet, floating in little clouds at the feet of trees. But the kid, still sick and feverish, seized this morning and has been sleeping on and off all day. So I'm inside in hie room with the shade half pulled, musing on the many travels and adventures I had with Michael before our son came into this world.

Photo by Michael Kolster

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