Monday, February 20, 2006

The habit of sorrow

“There are places,” I tell him, “where the ice is thin. Sometimes, one word will take you there and you’ll step right through. I never mean for it to happen. I never know when it will happen.” We’ve been talking for over an hour. Trying to untangle the mess we’ve made of things. It’s not easy when you’re trying to be here, now – instead of being the sum of all the parts that led up to here and now.

He nods. Yes. He says…

“Can you let me make you happy? I mean it. Do you think you can do that?” His brown eyes, my blue eyes become the whole room.

No one ever asked me that before. Not so it was a real question. So I think about it and realize that sadness has followed me always, like a mongrel looking for a home. I expect that dog now. Water trembles under the ice, the sun melting it thinner. Every time the sun starts shining, I am waiting for that dog to step.

And so, he comes along. He feels me waiting and he comes. The ice shatters and the dog and I swim.

And if I moved – even by an inch or so – I could enjoy the sun shining. Maybe I could throw a stick for that old dog. I could turn around and say, “Getting’ mighty close to the edge there, cowboy.” And instead of falling in, we’d laugh and go another direction.

I consider the question, and the dog, and finally when I’m sure of the answer, I say, “Yes. I think I might be able to do that….Thank you for asking.”