Once upon a time I was camping with a group of girlfriends. The man I was dating was nearby and invited me for a canoe ride. He arrived early.
Go, said my friends.
I’m still reading my Bible, I said.
Read it later. (They were very insistent.)
I wore my lucky yellow shoes and got in the canoe.
Let’s explore this island, he said.
Maybe later, I said.
The man argued poorly but steered the canoe to the island anyway.
There was a lot of consternation about where to land the canoe. There seemed nowhere flat enough to pull it up onto the bank.
Forget it. I’ll swim for it later, he said.
I protested. A spot was found.
Two bounding steps later, he was fiddling to get something out of his pocket.
It was making sense now.
Will you marry me? he asked and held out the ring to show me.
Yes, I said.
There was nothing else to say so we didn’t say it. It was like holding hands with Tigger from Winnie the Pooh as we walked up the path to find a rock to sit on.
We went from zero to sixty in opposite directions. He from frazzled and uncertain to the top of the world. Me from confident and assured to blithering idiot. Tigger sat down content. I sat down and an entire river system smashed every dam holding me together.
I cried uncontrollably.
I kind of thought it was going to make you happy, said Tigger a little worried.
I am happy, I whispered. Then I couldn’t talk. I was shaking inside down deep where you don’t let anything touch you. You don’t know how much more it can take in there, you just know it’s not much.
Tigger was relaxed and happy because he didn’t have a clue how dreadfully wrong things could go. Tigger was already so far into the sunset he probably wouldn’t even come back for a year or so. I didn’t believe in sunsets. Didn’t trust them.
An hour later I had stilled the terror enough to stand. The sun on the lake and the old pines sang something like a lullaby that I recognized. Pieces of the Canadian Shield jutting up all around reminded me that come what may, some things would remain solid.
I like remembering that day. It was the biggest leap I have ever been asked to make. Now it’s one of the solid things I go back to look at when it feels like too much is shifting around. Yesterday, Tigger cleaned out the chicken coop and got it ready for winter. Last night I asked him what he thought of a piece I had written. He hemmed and hawed to say he didn’t like it.
For some reason that made me happy. I woke up wanting to say thank you for those lucky yellow shoes.