Did I tell you the one about the older man?
Cultured, well dressed in a European kind of way. A man who looks like someone I know – a wounded healer who knows how to listen when the body says no. Older than me, though I always feel myself younger than I am, and not just when I’m dreaming. (From what I hear, it’s a function of age, this time standing still inside while outside life goes on.) I suppose an onlooker, someone passing us by as we walked together – my arm around his waist, his casually draped around my shoulder – would have thought us well matched.
Perhaps they would have sensed, as do I, something vital, captivating, alluring in how we walk together, under those renaissance porticoes, along cobbled sidewalks, towards that old grand hotel. Yes, I feel it to be some old city in Europe. Place of my heart’s longing and desire.
We are laughing, enjoying each other’s company, oblivious to others on the street, those who turn their heads a bit to notice…something…with a smile.
You, who had been my teacher, with whom I had loved and partnered for twenty some years.
You, whose gift of a book then, inspired now in me the creation of a photo book gleaming and glowing with life, colour and beauty.
You, who are delighted to observe how deeply received and well acknowledged my creation at its debut, among all those who gathered.
We climb the old magnificent staircase, bordered by frescoes. Fifteen hundred years old you replied. Past antique gilt and glass and wooden bar, where you’d go for a late afternoon aperitif or morning café. On our way to our room to make love.
I felt I’d found home with him, this place, this time, my creativity. I felt all was right and good, true and beautiful, despite our age difference and previous roles. No shame. No guilt. No need to hide. This was a good beginning in a relationship for twenty years.
The day following, and a year ago today – March 30, 2016 – I thought I saw an owl flying overhead as we walked our Annie dog through the golf course. Out of the corner of my vision, I saw a large light wing span and heard the raucous cries of crows. It stuck because it struck me as odd. When we arrived home, there it was, a snowy owl, perched in the top of the tree next door.
In the thirty plus years we have lived in our suburban home, never before had I seen an owl fly in the neighborhood, in broad daylight, let alone land in the backyard tree next door, as if waiting for me to say, “Yes, I am here.” (I just realized I had intended to write, “as if waiting to for me, as if to say…” This slip is revealing in its truth…its portent.)
Together with my night dream, I took it as omen, having been given a statue of Athena with her talisman the owl perched on her outstretched arm. And almost a year later, driving home very late at night from the airport, returning from the intimate writers’ retreat on Whidbey Island, there he was again and the only time since, that large mass of of light flying across my sight line as I turned off the highway. Just as fleeting, though unmistakable in the black of night. “Yes, I am here.”