Thursday, August 9, 2012
THIS IS LOVE
This past week as we shopped for a Navajo bracelet, my husband explained to me that turquoise is usually filled with stabilizer. Of course my first thought was that I wanted an original, unadulterated stone. Cracks and flaws and all.
But I have to accept the true nature of turquoise; that it's beautiful but prone to cracking. Without stabilizer, maybe it would crumble and be lost. My mom had some like that. It disintegrated into beautiful dust, so fine and blue.
Family, if you are lucky enough to have it (and if you're not, then friends are a good substitute), is the spackle that holds the crack-and-crumble prone institution of marriage together. The filler, the binder. The stone itself is beautiful. Precious. But fragile. And where the cracks form, the binder fills and smooths over and makes whole again. Maybe not perfect. Not original. But sturdier.
It's important not to mistake the binder for the stone, though. Glue is no substitute for precious stone.
This is what I was thinking as, one day this week, members of both our families converged in Virginia City. In the blistering, funky Western streets of a ghost town in the mining hills of Nevada we all merged into a giant, amoebic, wild family. You bought the ice cream of whoever was in line with you. Shepherded with two arms a gaggle of strollers and boys, accidentally pulling in peripheral children who seemed disappointed when plucked out of our happy mob by their lone parent. Nephews of one family and second cousins of another were just cousins. joined by being of the same height and a strange and strong, instantly recognizable thread of family belonging. A bloodless cord.
Like cells, pieces broke off, joined members across the street, and then rejoined having grown in size; having gained an ice cream cone or a bow and arrow play set.
I set the toddler of my cousin on the back of my tree-like oldest son and he accepted the burden naturally, gracefully. Maybe even thankfully.
Later she ran ahead to walk with me and take my hand, saying, "I just want to be with you." At first I wasn't sure I had heard right.
When my oldest graduated from middle school, this enthusiastic mob showed up. The older girl-cousins had glittery hand-made signs. Great grandmas whispered conspiratorially. The little cousins were held up on shoulders to see. And when his name was called, our cheers were deafening and prolonged.
My son said later that his friends had asked, wasn't that embarrassing?
What did you say, I wanted to know.
I said that's not embarrassing, that's my family, he told me.
I went to see the foreign film I Am Love a while back. As we left, a woman who was writing a book approached theatre-goers and asked them, what is love?
When she asked me, I answered immediately, "Showing up."
Showing up, and maybe screaming with all your heart.