It is her first love. As long as I've known her she's loved summer...lazy no-school days, the 4th of July, late evenings outside talking with friends, the sun, happy hour at Sonic. I married her twenty summers ago. Her father died this past August, the months prior panicked with travel to Arkansas and back to Colorado and back to Arkansas as she watched the shadow of pancreatic cancer lengthen and finally eclipse his life. She did not love the summer of '09...it did not give, it took.
One of our early anniversaries was celebrated at a B&B somewhere, I don't remember where. A stack of old magazines anchored the bedside table, one was The Smithsonian. The feature article focused on a strip of coastline in central California, a rough copulation of sea and mountain known as Big Sur. The pictures and text revealed another place and time, almost another planet. I was young then, poor and bold, bold enough to dream aloud: we should go there for our 20th anniversary. Next week my summer love and I will go there. Many things in life don't work out, but sometimes, somehow, some things do.
I am older now, here in mid-air, but still poor and bold, bold enough for a quiet petition: redeem this summer for her, return to her that first love. The either-loved-or-hated writer Henry Miller made Big Sur his home for eighteen years. He wrote about it as a place other than the 'air-conditioned nightmare of America'...an isolated, rugged landscape that gave him 'such a feeling of contentment, such a feeling of gratitude...that instinctively my hand went up in benediction.' Miller said 'it was here in Big Sur I first learned to say amen!'
And so I am praying for an amen next week, not as ending but rather as a intro to a summer place for her...and me. We will walk this coast where, I believe, the spirit of Miller and others like him still traipse and bless. Our hands may not be raised in benediction, but I trust they will be clapsed, interwoven fingers hanging on for better for worse, til death do us part.