Has it really been that long since I've written an entry?
I have 5 or 6 drafts waiting in the que to finish and post, but I'm writing off the top of my dome this morning about what is on my mind. And it's a little complex. Here is the story.
This morning was cold, really cold; dense dark clouds, light rain. I made a cup of coffee, climbed back into bed and sat up with the powerbook on my lap. One cat nestled herself between my ankles, the bedside lamp blazed, so cozy and safe. In my direct line of view from that position is the hallway and front bedroom, and the open window there. I can hear traffic, wet tires, brakes, gears shifting; and see the trees full of green leaves being tossed around by the wind. This is a great.
Instead of checking email and all the rest, I just sat for a moment. Or maybe it was 10 minutes. My mind wandered, thinking about turning 57 on Saturday, although I keep thinking it's 58 that I'll be turning. Anyway, for some reason, I remembered the lamp - and I lost myself in that memory.
Bill and I lived in Stockton, in a craftsman bungalow. It was in an older section of town, near the university. The homes closer to the university itself were quite elegant, grand; our neighborhood was more modest. But it was a real community, with neighbors that made home an extraordinary place. Aldo, who brought us fresh, cleaned monkfish and abalone from his fishing trips...wonderously smelling of the sea. And next door, the Andersons, who have stayed in touch becoming like family over the last twenty-five years; wonderful, wonderful people.
I was teaching in a great school, with a principal who was like a dream. My students were challenging, but fully connected with me and our work. The hours were long - I didn't mind. Bill worked weeks at a time on the road with his band, and for various events during his off-the-road weeks. During the days he spent hours rebuilding the kitchen, the entry, the garage, the deck, and converting the modernization of the bungalow back to it's original form. He built furniture, cabinets - you name it. I might add that he helped me with teaching, and that included building a brand for branding leather, helping my students silkscreen teeshirts, create clay pots with iron oxide Anasazi designs - oh, too much to mention.
We didn't have a lot of money, but when we needed something, we tried to save and buy the best choice possible for our home. One afternoon we went to an antique store on Harding Way, Peckler's. Mrs. Peckler had been Bill's high school English teacher, and her husband owned the store. The afternoon we went to the store, I spotted a lamp that would be perfect for our living room: an oak craftsman-style and shape with a shade of soft opaque white glass held in place with oak frames. Ohmeohmy! My heart fluttered: then nearly stopped. It was an original, and the pricetag was $500. That's the equivalent of about $1500 today - although if we saw one today, the tag would likely read $3000. Bill was so good at being able to say, "Ah, well, there'll be another one for less money if we keep looking", and just like a man, he was able to walk away. And just like a woman, my emotional self was all entangled with that stately, perfect lamp. But the cost was over the top for us. And in the end, we both walked away, me with a big sigh.
Flash forward a few months to my birthday. It was one during my 30s, though I don't remember which one. My birthday was on a Friday, and the family celebration was on Saturday. I worked all day, and came home just after it turned dark. The minute I came in the door, I was delighted to see that Bill had cleaned the house. He told me that friends, Jean and George, wanted to take us to dinner for Vietnamese food that night, so I went upstairs to change.
When I came back down into the living room,
THERE IT WAS!
I couldn't believe my eyes! I started to cry - and here's the thing: Bill built the lamp for me. He built it! He went back to Peckler's, explained we couldn't afford it, chatted Mr. Peckler up, and took the measurements of the lamp - then got the materials and built it. And, may I say it was an exact replica? I couldn't tell the difference.
We went to dinner that night, though I didn't want to leave the lamp. It's still our living room lamp, after all these years.
That was my lost-in-thought reverie this morning. Such a happy time in our lives. Such a wonderful memory. How very, very lucky.
We mark our lives with the passing of holidays, graduations, weddings, and funerals. It's a lucky thing, a blessing, to also mark our lives with memories like the one I have of the lamp. And that's what is on my mind this morning.