I felt the lure of impending independence as a teenager: the steering wheel, the passport, the journal of thoughts known only to me. I was seduced by the taste of bitter coffee in a corner European cafe, the freedom of an open gravel road, the pure darkness of the nightime sky, planning a world of my own, a life of my own, a me imagined.
I sat on a boat moving slowly on the Mosel River, the July sun shining down on me, surrounded by friends who represented the stretches of the Earth–Japan, Montana, Latvia, Germany, Denmark, even Syria. We toasted to my 21st birthday with sweet Riesling, the drink of the region, the drink of the last five months. We felt the time fleeting, breathing fully in the moments of train travel, college lectures in a foreign tongue, Sunday afternoon fussball matches, community kitchens, the absence of commitments.
Ben said his vows from a napkin, written the night before. Tears welled as I said my own. I held my grandmother’s bible, the rosary beads of Ben’s late grandma Mildred, and his hand as I spoke of vows carefully considered for months. We stood, barefoot, six people surrounding us in a semi-circle, the sky gray from a fresh rain. Grounded and content, I longed to let the festitivities finally settle and for us to do the same.
I am cooking dinner–pasta with a spinach salad–in our kitchen, one daughter wrapping gifts by the tree, the other sleeping soundly in my growing belly. And for a moment, it is quiet until it is not. The little one can’t find the scotch tape, the pasta is boiling over, and my husband poses a question from the den. Silent or not, I sense contentment embedded in the thick of adulthood, the connection between the romantic and the real.