« Eight Is Not Enough »

a wedding shot of ed grabbing kelli toward him for a kissAugust 28, 2004January 1, 2002 is the date Kelli and I give as a start to our present relationship. I have to say it that way because we've known each other for most of our lives, to varying degrees. The most reliable way we count time is from the summer of 1990—twenty years ago this summer—when she arrived at my church as a seeming new face. That is, until she and her mom talked about a time years before when they were at that same church, and (as the story goes) Kelli and I were in the same Sunday school class, or something like that considering our three year age difference. I'm told we used to give each other chase. We were both born into that church. I don't remember that period, but I do remember the post-1990 era.

We're often as a loss for how to count time that we've known each other. Do we start at the prehistory? Or 1990? Or when we started on our romantic journey on this day in 2002? Even blocking it in those terms is of little use since half of 2001 was time we drew nearer to each other in the wake of the murder of a friend of ours from the old days at church, and of course, 9/11, and other family drama for me and her having just graduated college. There have been many thresholds we've crossed over the years, some more odd than others considering she was a "church girl." (She still is, but in a different way.) It isn't as odd to have a beer with her while shooting pool as it once seemed. We haven't shot any pool in years but we've had some beers! During many years between my first exit from church life in about 1992, and until my return in 2002, she was a lifeline to that congregation and more substantially, any link to a spiritual life. Frankly, there was some disappointing stories about what was happening back at the church, vis a vis divorce, drug use and dealing, running away from home, and odd stuff like that that challenged my ideas of who these people were. I was often incredulous. She portrayed an unvarnished, honest picture of how things were, all the while expressing a real love for the characters involved.

A lot of time passed between our visits in those years. Some of that time she was back in Florida or at school. Often we'd run into each other at open mic nights or poetry readings or out on the town. Many times it was as if she had become a different person between visits. For a while in 1998-1999 we had a pretty reliable schedule as we worked together on a CD that featured her poetry and my sonic landscapes, but then she was off again as she finished school at her ivy league school, and I plunged into some wild depression. Sometimes I am alarmed at how different we are. But that really is a surface thing. What sticks out was that we both found a safe place to be ourselves.

We don't hand write letters to each other. A historian would barely have a few letters and scraps to piece together some idea of the words that pass between us. Scarcely any emails. Phone calls, yes, but mostly pedestrian stuff—who to meet when, what to get on the way home from work. Not writing letters to anyone perfectly coincided with my abandoning journaling in 2001, in part due to the computer's entrance into my life, but more so because of the agonizing year that led up to that period that just about ink poisoned San Diego from all the ink I spilled to sort through it all. But with Kelli, we don't write much to each other at all. I chalk it up to being generally so ready to have our lives lived in the flesh that paper is just a pale comparison to what we speak and express in person. And, as you know, it isn't that I am shy of using words. I am not. But words were the domain of my relationships with other people—real and imagined relationships at that. I suppose by the time I got into the present relationship with Kelli, I was so achingly ready to have a relationship that could be honest and unfiltered. The times I have tried to compose great letters have fallen flat, realizing that our daily lives together are the venue for our communication. Letters of old, written to people with whom I never had this quality of relationship, are pretty sad. Some are just way too pining for relationship with a person who is not able or willing to reciprocate. Those things took long hours to write, dammit! But with Kelli, we just go about our lives and forgo the endless whining prose. (A blog is a good relief valve for the pent up whining prose!)

kelli on the tidepools and cliffs down at point loma. the sun is blazing low in the winter sky and everything has a silver shimmer on the water and the thin cloudsKelli at the tidepools on Point LomaEight years now that we've been together in a romantically-linked way. But it didn't really start out that way, even in 2002. It really started out of our need for another human to share our full lives with. It started when the world of 2001 crashed and collapsed, taking expired dreams with it, but with the dawn of 2002 and the newly evolved relationship with Kelli, the beginning of a new era. One that is marked by uncertainty in the name of wonder. I still remember how we started off in 2002 and by the end of the first week, I was at church again, even knowing all its faults and having been away for ten years. On that Santa Ana sunny day with the sun low in the horizon, we went to the tidepools at Ft. Rosecrans and to the cemetery itself—a day that, with Kelli's gleeful smile and sense of wonder, ushered in a new period for me. I was perhaps far from articulating it then, but it was the beginning of a certain knowing that the universe was a safe place. It would be impossible to separate Kelli from any faith journey I have walked. It is not hyperbole to say that I love her more than any human I've known, so much that I have to wonder if all my other professed loves were just imagined or faked or something. It isn't that we're all about all the good stuff because we've had some grueling times too. But we've come far together in a way that would be impossible to match. We've probably got a few novels' worth of stories to write about but we have tomorrow to look forward to.

Eight years? That is longer than either of our parents were together, and on the verge of surpassing second marriages and step parent durations too. I don't know what it was about the previous generation and how relationships were like toilet paper. We don't feel that way. We can't feel that way. We don't have that luxury to feel that we're "all that" and don't need anyone else. I sort of feel that our relationship is a form of rebellion as well as being all the good stuff it is. We've been married for just over five years. I know that sounds like kid's play, but this isn't built on sand. We've had to work for this. Few things have been as challenging as being in this relationship, but none have been as rewarding. None. None have done the work of putting together all our Humpty Dumpty pieces that resulted from a combined 53 years before we joined up in 2002. Eight is just a beginning.

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