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Friday, July 6, 2012

Love and Choice

I met my husband, Joe, years before we started dating; we ran in the same circles. I remember the exact moment when I started falling for him. I worked at The Country Aire, a natural grocery in Port Angeles, Washington. Joe had just returned from a trip to Thailand and at one glance I could see and feel the electricity he brought back with him from that trip. My feelings for him were further confirmed by the twinge I got when a mutual friend talked of setting him up with someone else. The poem below is our wedding poem and tells the story of that 'first meeting'. Perhaps more importantly it tells the story of us choosing one another.

Joseph Elvis Vastano of the Intrepid Heart

When you leaned in
toward me, across the counter
and told me
you were glad
to see
me and I knew
as you walked away, the tips of your curls red-sunshine-gold
that you were.

That we keep choosing
to face one another’s walls-
instead of walking out
onto the open plains of life lived alone.

When I turn around and you are still there, and again, and again- still there.

It is not easy,
it is not clean,
it is gloriously messy.
Like Saguaro. Like rocks on the hillside. Like flood waters in the desert

I imagine
adventures before us- sorrows and joy.
Trips across continents and waters. Worlds from
the inside-out.
Really though- it is all imagined.

We cannot know what faces us.

As I face the unknown it is you I want at my side, Joseph
of the Intrepid Heart.


Of all of the things I think I know about marriage, it is choice that impresses me the most. While we don't choose to fall in love, or when and certainly not with whom - we do choose to keep love, to do the things that sustain it, and we keep expecting to fall into love yet again.

Many of my favorite couples (you know who you are!) are people you wouldn't think would work well together. It is my guess that from the outside Joe and I were an odd match.  This man I keep choosing to spend my life with is as willful as I am. The poem that follows is a rant, a declaration. We choose to use our powers for good.

We will not be torn apart by Wrath or Zest or Zeal.


We will not be torn apart
by passion, rather we will be joined
by it. Your water to my fire
we make steam – and power the gears
and pistons of our own valiant
new world. Our machines will fly
like eagles no matter how improbable
they seem. Your fish and my lion
will splash in the sunlight. We will accelerate
into hairpin turns. Your stories will dance the tarantella
around my poems then lean in close
for whispered truths.

We will not be torn apart by resentments,
rather we will hike up our trousers and wade
in and part the waters of them. In their wake
we will discover sand dollars, snail
houses and moon stones. We may not hike
to the top of the ridge hand in hand, but surely
we will stand there together. Look out at high-
country lakes, the ocotillo, the golden eagle hefting
from the boulder, the tiny glittering cities.

We will not be torn apart by passions, rather
we will uncover them. You bring the dynamite
and the blasting caps. I will bring the earplugs
and a nice picnic lunch. After the sediment
settles we’ll eat bread and cheese and sort
our treasure.
Joe in the tent by a lake in Arizona, with our trusty steed standing by.

Our Future

While we cannot know our futures -to paraphrase a poet I know- but it is fun to hatch schemes. In an earlier post I talked about my sadness that our son is growing up and moving on. That sadness is truly counter-balanced by the places Joe and I will go and the treasures we will sort.

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