In the morning coming off the plateau the fog looked like clouds over the lake

That April we got married the weather had been good every weekend three weekends in a row and I worried our luck would run out by our wedding day. There were about 50 people coming in to a mountain lodge in a small mining town called Gold Bar. It was the first time my mom and dad would see each other since they divorced, each with new partners. There are a lot things (like the weather) you can’t control, but we had fair skies literally and figuratively. A photo of Dawn and I with our heads thrown back doing a shot someone handed to us right after, some unnamed mountain in the background, wisps of fog. About 24 hours later, hurrying to the airport for Las Vegas and then renting a car around midnight to head to the national parks the following day. Our marriage started with a road trip.

I didn’t plan it so well. One thing I’d redo is actually calculating the time and distance between stops and limiting the amount of travel. The first place we stayed we got to right around dusk, some prairie outside of Moab with nothing but sky, fields, spring flowers, cattle. We had a little cabin with low lights, hardbound books, blankets, a bottle of wine—but had to leave in the morning for our next stop. I can’t remember any of it and digital cameras back then were crude, so there’s not much to go on.

The night before in Vegas, we’d stayed up late looking out over the city and trying to relax, feeling the adrenaline still and the deep fatigue that comes from all that stimulation. We’d left the lodge for a gathering at our small house in West Seattle before coming to Vegas, and there were many smallish kids, and I don’t do well in small spaces, was drinking wine like medicine.

But with all the sun that April the yard looked good, we had a couple California lilacs that gave off purple cluster blooms and attracted bees, and I’d sometimes sit under the bush listening to them, zoning out to the drone.

I discovered the footprint of a pond in that same spot—and the previous owners must have been pond enthusiasts, because they’d put in another pond right by the front door, which we tried to maintain and beautify, but it just didn’t work. A family of raccoons lived in the cedar tree out front and made a habit of coming down in the middle of the night to play and do whatever else, and in the morning it would look like hell.

We decided to empty the pond and demolish it, and I paved over it and put in a small patio there. I blew out the suspension on the Volvo hauling sand, rocks, and bricks back and forth. I blew out a disc in my back too, getting cocky moving boulders and using power equipment. And I didn’t have the patience to work out geometrically how some of the bricks should be cut for the places they didn’t tie in right to the existing footpath leading to the front door. I half-assed it, but the times I’ve gone back to that house for sentimental reasons, I notice the new owners still use it and haven’t done anything about it.

Maybe there’s a lesson about marriage in that patio and me putting it in: it’s the good ones that hold up over time, that last, despite your lack of planning and the imperfections you need to accept. And marriage is a kind of road trip too—best to like the person you’re in the front seat with, regardless of where you’re going.




Categories: Memoir, musings

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. To carry on the road trip analogy – best to have a great soundtrack to listen to when the scenery looks all the same. And there’s nothing left to say.


  2. Absolutely Bill. Those shared experiences–doing enjoyable things together, the association of the good vibe and the sweet memories with your partner…so essential to good relationships. Nice Post Bill!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Best to also take some time between stops and not keep rushing out on the road to get to the next stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. move slowly and imperfectly. there is a measure of comfort in that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love your last line, about the person you’re in the front seat with on that long journey through life – essential to know and like one another, or that journey is going to feel terrifically long! You have to sit and listen to the bees – there’s a wisdom in that too.
    Lagging behind with everything at the moment – blogging, work, possible house move – so sorry I’m not reading and commenting as much as I’d like. All the best and hope you’re feeling better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How many years has it been? Did I miss that part? And where’d you stay in Vegas? I think you could squeeze at least another post out of this. CONGRATS.


  7. As metaphors go, it’s a good thing you didn’t put in a septic tank.
    But seriously, folks. Lovely piece. Congrats to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The road trip analogy is great. In a way, marriage is like picking up a hitchhiker for a long drive. You don’t know everything at the beginning. Sometimes you learn more than you need to know. Most of the time, it’s great to have the company.

    We’re on septic too, and yes, there’s a lot of metaphorical potential there.

    Liked by 1 person

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