“We were born before the wind/ Also younger than the sun…/Hark now hear the sailors cry/Smell the sea and feel the sky/ Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic…/ I want to rock your gypsy soul…” Van Morrison “Into the Mystic”
Van’s song has been haunting me lately as I get ready to make yet another move in my wildly mobile life I’ve lived here in Fayetteville, Arkansas–in this house on this particular 3 acres of paradise, for 7 years–making this site, at least, the longest domicile of my 58 years. Some of you are shaking your heads at this moment, but let me say that I am my mother’s child in this regard. I come by my moving genes honestly.
Lovers should be careful how they form their pet phrases for one another in the beginning of their relationships. These can become oft-quoted in times both good and bad. Two writers who fall in love must be even more careful as they tend to write them down.The power of written words doubles, at least. Memorize the sayings and you’re sworn to them for life. Leigh and I each wrote a promise to one another which we felt exemplified the measure of our love. We say or write these things to one another whenever we face what could be a daunting desire expressed by one or the other of us. Sometimes it takes a day or two, but inevitably, we remember.
What I said to Leigh was, “I love you beyond all practicality.” I’m not even sure why I said it then. I was crazed with love is all I know. The words just popped out. The reason was revealed to me as our life together unfolded and first she wanted six chickens which became sixteen; one bee hive which became four; a garden which grew exponentially bigger every year although we still ate the same amount. And then there were the goats. These things just seemed a bit over the top for me, who wanted to wander and explore and go on vacation, that sort of thing.
If anything, her declaration of love was even more dangerous than mine. Shortly after I agreed to move into her little West Asheville house, I stipulated that I wanted to be living in the country by age 50. That was still 5 years away and I thought it gave us plenty of time. She promised, “I’d go anywhere with you.” We proceeded to move from the middle of Asheville to the wilds of the Black Mountains in WNC and then across the country to the wild west of Fayetteville, AR. Now I’ve got her going back to southwest Virginia; same Blue Ridge mountain range, different state. Who wants to live in the same state twice?
Yet, when she wants to profess her love on paper, she writes the very same thing, “I’d go anywhere with you.” She will, too. She has proven it many times. And when she tells me the bees are going with us in the back of the pickup truck to Virginia, what can I say but “I love you beyond all practicality,” even as I wonder how the hell we will accomplish this particular buzziness.
There is power beyond imagining in the words we write. In this story, it is a beautiful thing. These are our professions of faith in one another. They are more powerful than anyone else’s words (“in sickness and in health, etc, etc..) because we made them up specifically, one for the other. There is power in words, which should serve both as a promise and a caution. Be careful with the arrows you sling. Words written carelessly can come back to haunt, even hurt you. Ask me how I know.
But this is a love story of two writers in a household. And these are the promises we made and the promises we keep. She will rock my gypsy soul and I will pack up bees in the back of ole Betty even if it doesn’t seem practical to me. Practical is not exactly in the vocabulary of a woman who drove down the highway with a goat bleating out the back window of her Saturn. She says I knew this about her before I promised “beyond all practicality.” If not, certainly it was a premonition. In the end, we have proven that we are both women of our words.