The Teeter Totter

I used to watch him with this Australian girl who was obviously head-over-heels for him. I didn't get it. They seemed totally mismatched. I didn't know either of them very well nor did I want to. They were people who shared my space and I noticed them but that's as far as it went.

We were living in an old, cold monastery in Canberra, Australia but we were both American. We had that in common, me and that guy. That and the fact that we were both in bible school. Anyway, someone had the bright idea of throwing us together on a music and drama team that would travel through the outback, performing for children.

I watched him then. He was quiet but funny. He could fix anything. He always told the truth no matter how uncomfortable it was for other people to hear. He always wore plaid shirts and a leather motorcycle jacket. He was tall and lean. We wore the same size jeans.

One day he was sitting with his back against the wall, playing his guitar and singing. I came into the room and heard the song, Wild Thing by The Troggs. It was forbidden music in bible school, the devil's stuff. I loved it. He looked up and I grinned at him. They would have labeled us rebellious by virtue of our U.S. citizenship, but we earned that label, too, I'll own that. Anyway, back to my story, before I could look away, he stopped singing and said, "Wild Thing, I think I love you."

And that was it. I was shot through by the truth of him. That's the best way I can describe it. He was so true, so honest. And I needed honesty more than anything. There it was, right in front of me, honesty clad in jeans, a plaid shirt, and leather jacket, honesty with a guitar in hand.

After that, we were friends. We would sneak out after midnight and run to the park where we would swing and talk under the Southern Cross. We would walk under Eucalyptus trees, listening to the nighttime quiet of the Cockatoos. On weekends, we rode bicycles to the fish and chips shack and ate our paper-parceled lunch, sitting in the grass.

I've said that our marriage was a happy accident, that I hadn't intended it. I don't know if that's true. I loved him. He wasn't at all what I expected. Nobody who knew us believed in us - separately, sure, but not together, no way no how.

Our school leaders wanted him to be with the Australian girl, the one who cooked for him and laughed at everything he said, the one who never challenged him.

Someone said we would be like two people on a teeter-totter. I'd be up in the air, swinging my legs, and he'd be solidly planted on the ground. They were right about that but wrong about what it would mean for us. I've always needed someone to keep me tethered to the earth. I've always needed someone to take hold of me and not let go. I needed him and I'm so glad he's been on the other side of that teeter-totter for 22 years now.

I don't know what happened to the Australian girl. No matter what they said, she wouldn't have been good for him. As much as I needed him to keep me grounded, he needed me to bounce the teeter-totter, to tease him with the sky.

I once said that I didn't have a love story. God, when I'm wrong I'm wrong. Our story is nothing but a love story after all.

I'm so glad we didn't listen to everyone who said we'd never make it. We barely knew each other when we were married, yet somehow we beat the odds together. It hasn't been easy. There were years when we were held together by nothing more than sheer tenacity and hope.

Our kids, like most kids, think of us as nothing more than mom and dad. It's as if we were born married. I doubt they've ever thought of us as individuals with stories of our own, and that makes me smile because I remember when we were brand new and there were no children; our story was still unwritten.

When I look at him, I still see that jean-clad boy on the other side of the teeter-totter and I know he still sees a blond girl backlit by the Australian sky.

©Just Kate, April 2010

Enjoy this blog? Receive alerts when new blogs are posted. Just click on either the "Follow" or "Subscribe" button to the right.



    Commenting is simple:

    1. Click on the individual blog title.

    2. Click on "Post a comment."

    3. You can comment anonymously by clicking on "anonymous" or you can link your comment by clicking on any of the following: a) blogger account, b) open ID, c) name/url.

    4. To respond to another person's comment, directly below their comment (threaded comments), simply click "reply" under the comment you wish to respond to, then copy and paste the "@ number" at the top of your comment. Easy, easy!

    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.


    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin