Friday, April 13, 2012

Climbing Below the Rim


I got to spend most of yesterday with Chris and his brother. Chris is one of eight children and David has lived in Phoenix for years while Chris lives back east in Syracuse very near me. The two of them have an easy manner between them and both are two of the funnier people I know. Chris and I had driven out of the Grand Canyon and down to Phoenix to have a day with David, his wife, and one of their daughters before we caught a flight back home. We didn't do anything special, just sat on David's back patio drinking Boddington's, listening to music, swapping stories, and enjoying each other. And it was just as wonderful to me as anything else we did on the trip. No lie.

Then, very late last night, Chris and I boarded the red-eye for Chicago. We both tried to sleep with varying degrees of success. We were sitting on opposite sides of the airplane thanks to the wonders of airline bookings and, when we landed in Chicago, both of us were waiting to tell the other about the lightning storm.

An hour or so outside Chicago, in the night skies, there raged a lightning storm. One bolt after another. The sky flashed bright over and over in an impossible display of natural pyrotechnics. Chris, when we landed, was overcome with excitement about the anvil cloud lit up by the lightning. I mentioned the perfectly clear starry sky over the top of the clouds. We sat in the Chicago terminal waiting for our next flight, yawning, and talking over the wonder of what we had seen.

Then, we flew into Syracuse and I nearly ran out of the airport to the car where Stephanie and the girls were waiting. She jumped out and threw herself at me so that I could hold her tighter than doctors recommend and spin her until she was dizzy. It is something to know the entirety of love so intimately outside an airport, but I suppose it happens all the time. The girls piled out of the car and I smooshed them have to death before presenting them with gifts from the west. Their eyes were wide, their smiles dazzling to me in every way. I was taken away.

All of this is to say that I had a phenomenal vacation and saw things that I had never imagined. I mean, everyone thinks they know what the Grand Canyon is but I didn't really know anything until I stepped down into it and let the thing envelop me. And that is about as perfect a metaphor for love as I can hope for.

In Phoenix, sitting on the patio drinking good beer and listening to good music, I saw how love works between two brothers who don't get to see each other nearly enough. It wasn't the electric storm that we saw out the airplane window. It was just two people slipping easily into the open space they were born to share and that, without seeing it, no one else can begin to know.

At the airport in Syracuse, I fell into the love I have for Stephanie and my two girls. I knew how I felt about them even when I was three time-zones away, but there was nothing to compare with descending below the rim of expectations and finding myself enveloped in love's embrace. Down in the Grand Canyon sometimes even the rim isn't visible. So it is with being in love. You can't see anything beyond it and the world is just right because of that.

One last thing and I'll get off this subject for the evening. Stephanie drove us from the airport to Chris's house where we got out to get his stuff and say our goodbyes. I'll see Chris in a day or so, talk to him tomorrow probably, and be in touch in every other way, but we both knew that there in his driveway our vacation was ending. Our trip to Zion and our descent into the Grand Canyon, our visit with his brother, our plane rides to and from through lightning storms, blue skies, and all the rest, was over.

We've known each other for forty-three years and know just what we have in one another. It's the sort of thing that doesn't need to be said or shown. Still, we leaned forward and embraced one another because sometimes it's not enough to stand on the top and look down at the thing. You just have to grab hold of love and jump in.

Write on.