Monday, July 17, 2006

Six Years

The breeze from the ocean felt subtly cool and the palms seemed to move in rhythm with the street performers. Waikiki was a paradise unlike my usual paradise in Texas. I had found sidewalk cafes with beautiful vistas and good food. I had plans to tour the WWII installations in Diamond Head, plans to walk new beaches and go snorkeling again at Hanauma Bay. It was my second trip to Hawaii and I was having a miserable time.

Julie and I had been constant friends and I felt blue without her. Several months earlier I had phoned her while on a trip to Alaska and I was fine. Something had changed between the two trips. The details and sequence of events have been muddled and lost in my memory but something significant changed and I was well aware of it..

Over the previous few years I had been asking people whose opinions I respected for their definitions of love. One psychologist, a co-worker at a university in Kentucky, quickly and confidently replied. “To love is to want to be with and to do for.”

I was having a miserable time in Hawaii because Julie wasn’t with me and I couldn’t share the sunsets, beaches, music, discoveries and experiences with her.

Six years ago today we were married. It was a Monday. We arranged for an elderly friend in his eighties who had been a missionary to Brazil to perform the ceremony. We worked a full day and met Gerald and Janet at Julie’s apartment at 6 PM and were married. The next morning we went to work with plans for a honeymoon trip in October.

For three years – yes, literally three years – after the wedding I would occasionally say “We really did it! I can’t believe we did it!” I would look at her while she was sleeping and think “I’ll spend the rest of my life with her. That’s strange. It’s hard to believe.” After 25 years of a bad marriage and several years living by myself, I was slow to adjust.

Today, I can’t remember my life before her. She’s beside me now and has yielded to sleep. I look at her and think “I’ll spend the rest of my life with her. That seems too good to be true.”

Two years ago we celebrated in Moab, Utah. Last year we went to a B&B in Sedona. This year we spent the weekend near Tucson. We haven’t been to Hawaii together but that will happen some day.

Life is good! Much, much better than I ever imagined possible at one time.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Things that Bite in the Dark

As my left heel came down on the dark concrete, I felt something tubular and soft under the ball of my foot. My mind jumped to a conclusion. My eyes shot down and in the dark I saw his head turning left and moving toward the pressure on his body. I tried to shift my weight to my trailing right foot and hoped Julie was out of his reach. I was moving as fast as possible but he was moving faster. We were at a resort just north of Phoenix and were returning from the swimming pool so there was nothing between him and my bare leg.

The strike wasn’t painful. It felt like a bump and a small thorn. After I removed my foot from his tail we moved in opposite directions. He rattled and I said “sonofabitch! He got me.”

Because he wasn’t coiled and simply reacted to his pain, it was a glancing strike and one fang barely nicked the skin enough to break it. Interestingly, I have small red marks the size and shape of the right side of his mouth.

I knew that 25 to 30 percent of bites by venomous snakes do not result in venom injection. I knew that only 6 to 8 people die each year in the US even though about 8,000 people are bitten. I approach the world rationally and like new experiences so I had an adrenaline rush void of fear.

We got directions to the nearest hospital which was about 30 minutes away and arrived there about 9:15 PM. At about 5 AM this morning, I left after a tetanus shot, two blood samples and one IV removal.

The area around the bite feels a little warm and tingly but nothing serious. It appears I dropped into the 25 to 30 percent statistic.

Life continues to be good!