My husband speaks in metaphors like a second tongue. Not the idioms you heard growing up. Long, epic tales. More than once he has had me at the table begging the point, Cody, to which he knows he has me at ground zero again: wait, I’m getting there, and then proceeds to build brick by brick. It’s the preacher’s gift without the podium, only a wife asking him to take the road less winding. They are growing on me, though. I’m trying to remember one, even one, to tell you, and I can’t. I lean over on the bed and ask him for “one of those long crazy metaphors you say” and get “I dunno” in reply. But in the moment, he can catch the depth of a thing and turn it into something else, which I am growing wildly impressed over, if still impatient now and again.
Sometimes I look at him and think “look! There he is – my husband.” He married me four years and a baby ago, and my high school self would have loved to know.
Rewind your mind’s eye to your earliest dreams. The four-year-old ones, where your life purpose was perfectly two-dimensional and maybe cartoon. The awkward-years ones, where the dreams had a soundtrack and a car ride and were impressive and outlandish. The high school ones, on the brink of life, you thought, and maybe greatness. Certainly newness.
Isn’t it strange to watch the way things have unfolded? The way our dreams grow gangly legs and plod around. The way things we thought would happen, did, but differently. The way things we never could have conceived of, would. We all want to set our younger selves down and tell them our secrets. If you knew, we’d say. If you could just, we’d implore. Wounds will happen, little one, and grow into scars; and when it rains, they will ache – even before thirty. Peace will be the wild bird who makes friends with you.
In This Too Shall Last, K. J. Ramsey talks about visiting with an old college friend, who confessed she used to want Christ to wait – until the marriage and the kids and the “experience” of life – before coming back. We know what she means. And then life does come, and we cry, “come back.” You can’t tell this to the girl in pigtails. You can wait until she has a bob, and then she will already know.
It’s not all bad. So much is so good that you wish you could tell your young self that, too. Wait till you see your college roomie – you’ll ride around the city at night and scream Livin’ On a Prayer in the prime of your life; you’ll take Panda Express to-go and watch way too many episodes of Frasier. That girl will teach you to live a little more, and you will always love her for it. Wait till your closest friends circle you in prayer while you’re waiting to get married. See their tears of love and your bursting heart and the chain of sisterhood that is not ending but ready to grow a stronger root. Wait till you see that long-awaited baby – the one that surprised you one morning in two pink lines so that you sprung out tears of fear – but now, at the last, with tears of absolute unbelief that they are setting this boy on your lap, and he is yours to love forever.
There’s a place I love and a story I hate, and somehow they live very close to each other, even on the same plot of land. My Aunt said the farmers were sweeping the cloud of chemicals over the cornfields when her baby ran inside, covered with the stuff. He was having an asthma attack, and I’m not sure how they calmed him but they did. For many years after that, it was just a startling story and a mother’s skipped heartbeat.
They don’t know, but when a second boy from the same plot of country got the same rare cancer, they suspected it might have been that cloud, forbearing something down the line.
We can press our hands to these fault lines, which break beautiful plains from heartbreaking ones. Same plot of earth, different worlds and the same.
"Come back. Wait for no more life than You need to,” we cry now. We know, and the knowing is better than not; but it is hard. We belong to a better plot than this. We believe, and we are going.