Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dating an Older Man in Jacksonville

We are listening to the orchestra’s first morning rehearsal. By ‘we,’ I mean the Britt Festival and I. This year, he turns fifty. I have a ways to go until my golden years, and sure, the Britt’s grown a bit crotchety—putting up literal fences and all, but I’ve brought coffee, and everybody’s happy. We enjoy State-of-Jefferson-blue skies and share a bit of history.

For many summers, I’ve come to this outdoor amphitheater for concerts in and outside the fence—dinner picnics for both. Mornings, I’ve stretched here after running the woodland trails or brought pencils and sketched the vineyards and hills beyond the band shell. Off-season, I’ve sat in the empty benches and chatted with God until the stars came out. And once, on the lookout above the vacant sound booth, I kissed the man I didn’t marry.

I still wait for someone to witness my life as I hope to witness his. But there are years and years that he’ll never know. Meanwhile, the Britt hill has seen a fair amount of my life beneath his shady trees. He’s waited for me to return from extended bouts of expatriotism. He’s refrained from commenting on a curly cowgirl hat and an anemic stint of vegetarianism. He’s seen the few men I loved on his grassy slopes. And, like a patient and wiser suitor, he has kept an eye on me while waiting for his moment.

And it is here. For the first time since the Rogue Valley has been my mailing address, I love the Britt with the love that comes of finally seeing the gift that’s been my neighbor for the better part of a dozen years and several continents.

Dearest Britt: here’s to patience tall as your pine trees.  Here’s to the orchestral sound of hope.

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