I don't write about this lady enough, not nearly enough. Oh, I do some, a little, calling her my girlfriend or the mother of my children, something slant like that so as to sound like a writer. Writers. Rick Bass spoke true: "Writers. Half-assed at everything, it seems, except, occasionally, their writing."
Her name is Meredith. Come June of 2010, we'll have been married twenty years. Twenty years. Almost half my life. We moved to Colorado about six years ago to do something that turned out to be merely the backdoor to something else. Ever had that experience? I asked her leave the azaleas for the mountains and she agreed. Meredith loves the mountains...but I know she misses back there.
That backdoor to something else? It turned out to be writing or at least trying to write. We went from being a pastor and pastor's wife with regular income and a corner lot to well, trying to be a writer and staying married. The last six years have been hard...a lot of shame has come our way, her way...the shame, usually, of not having enough, be it money or whatever...we've usually had about half. Writers. But Meredith has weathered it, building herself into a fixture in this small town, well-known everywhere from school to church and neighborhood. Just about everybody knows Meredith and loves her...and knows she lives with a writer.
I don't type last six years to indicate the tide has turned and we've secured some dee-lux apartment in the sky. I wish I could indicate that, but I can't. Writers have to tell the truth. But whatever the Blases have done and wherever we find ourselves has been, in no small measure, due to my girlfriend and the mother of my children. Her name is Meredith. As the old Gambler sings: she believes in me...I'll never know just what she sees in me.
I came home yesterday evening and she said oh come see my coat! My wife has worn a hand-me-down-down-parka for the last six years. But, due to her savvy frugality and couponishness, built out of necessity over these Colorado years, she found a coat yesterday like the one she's wanted ever since, well, I brought her to the mountains. Dear two or three readers of mine, my wife/my girlfriend/the mother of our children twirled in that coat for me like a princess would spin in her gown at the ball. Gone was the vague, black, just-keep-me-warm thing she's happily worn and in its place now something fitted and mocha and quilted, with a belt even and a hood with that furry hair stuff around the edges. It is simply beautiful. As is she.
I like the photo above. Look at the contrast a minute - fantasy and reality. Meredith looks a little tired (she admits this) and her face is real, no makeup or lipstick. Again, beautiful. Me, on the other hand, with a Harry Potter hat and scarf on, trying to wave the wand/pen and say the words that make the magic happen:
A Patronus is a kind of positive force, and for the wizard who can conjure one, it works something like a shield, with the Dementor feeding on it, rather than him. In order for it to work, you need to think of a memory. Not just any memory, a very happy memory, a very powerful memory… Allow it to fill you up... lose yourself in it... then speak the incantation "Expecto Patronum."
I have a memory now, not just any memory, but a very happy memory, a very powerful memory. It fills me. I can get lost in it. It is the memory of Meredith twirling before a mirror in a new coat. Her beautifully tired face is radiant, smiling. She speaks two words - I'm happy.
"Expecto patronum" is Latin for "I await a protector." Meredith deserves a protector. What she got is a writer. Life and love and magic are funny that way, aren't they? She's wrapping up her coat to open on Christmas morning. I'll be there when she does, hat and scarf and half-ass and all.