I spent the majority of the past year as part of The Loft Literary Center's mentor program, working with local and national authors to develop better skills in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. And one of our assignments was to take 5 minutes and attempt to begin a lyric essay.
Real quick: A lyric essay would be what happened if poetry and memoir had a baby together. The Seneca Review publishes some of the best lyric essays around, and they say "The lyric essay partakes of the poem in its density and shapeliness, its distillation of ideas and musicality of language. It partakes of the essay in its weight, in its overt desire to engage with facts, melding its allegiance to the actual with its passion for imaginative form."
HEY! Wake up!
Okay. That's a brief background on what you're about to read. I was told to look around the room, pick an item at random, and take 5 minutes to start a lyric essay with that item as the core. And in 5 minutes I not only started one, but finished it, too. Not because I'm amazing (I'm not, and what you're about to read will serve as raw, unedited proof of that), but because the topic I was writing about is something I just can't not feel passionate about. Can't not want to scream and shout and sing and dance about.
This essay is about my wife.
Ten years ago today we got married. And there just aren't words to describe how many different ways she's inspired me, changed me, believed in me, amazed me and saved me. But the 5-minute 1st draft of this rough, messy lyric essay is a start.
I love you, Kaisa. Always, always, always.
The candle is light at its most unadorned. A flame sustained. Burning and burning until the wick and the wax runs dry. The candle has lived longer than us. It will live longer than those who come after. But it's lost some of its luster. What once helped banish the demons in the dark now serves as shelf filler. Pretty pillars to fill a new glass plate.
My wife loves to decorate. She takes regular weekend trips to stores with carefully curated living rooms and sinks into them, letting the aspiration envelope her. She spends hours while I fuss and fidget, sneaking glances at my iPhone every chance I get. While she hunts for the perfect throw pillow or pillar candle for the guest room - which used to be my video game room - I catch up on downloading apps. Finally getting around to downloading that flashlight app so I have a way to see in the basement when the bulbs burn out.
After a decade of marriage, my wife and I have a steady list of things the other does that drive us crazy. The little things that fill up a life together. Nothing major, but they are there. Always flickering in the background. Sometimes they spark something. And soon, because she's refused to replace the toilet paper roll or I've blown out her candles 15 minutes after she lit them because I don't want the house to burn down, we're fighting. Not the type of fight that ends things. The type of fight that sustains things.
When you stop fighting, when you stop caring enough about the other person to root for them or stand up for them or ... well, yell at them, when that flame dies out, that's when things are done.
Things with us are not done. They are far from it. There is a lot of luster left. It is anything but shelf filler. It is borne of - and sustained by - real life. Real struggles and real triumphs. Yes, marriage existed before us. And it will exist after us.
But sometimes it feels like marriage was made just for us.