Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paper Trail

I wrote this more than a year ago for a first anniversary. So much has happened since then, and we aren't the same people. There are things here I will never express again. I found this last week in my files and thought it needed to travel.)


Isn’t it funny? The two of us, men of the new millennium, so dependent on our technological crutches, the cell phones, the computers, ATMs everywhere…so quick to dash off an email or a text message…

But that’s all on the outside, isn’t it? It’s not so hard to look closer and see what paper dinosaurs we truly are…and it’s been that way from the start. You tried to send me a text (which I was ill-equipped to receive at the time, oh, the horror!) so we had to resort to scribbling out pieces of our lives on white squares of paper…how last century is that?

Paper, it seems, has made itself a central feature of our life together. It was there in the menus and wine list at that lovely dinner; it was the concert tickets—and in an exuberant seizure of creativity, it became your home-made birthday card last year.

Next, paper came to me as twelve little penguins…then like notes in class, a card here and there expressing some simply beautiful thoughts…and yet again, as plane tickets and breathtaking photos, proof of the best vacation ever…so much paper.

Too soon, we were drowning in paperwork—FEMA applications and change of address forms, shopping lists and envelopes stuffed with receipts from a faraway land that wasn’t home, the pages of books we read to distract ourselves from our days and newspapers we used to kindle the fires that warmed our nights.

Paper can be so beautiful, the shape of a lovingly wrapped Christmas gift…so hopeful, as a fistful of lottery tickets…so contradictory, both the bills we receive and the checks we pay with…so familiar in daily choices of paper and plastic, cash or credit…and so utterly indispensable if you intend to blow your nose, clean a kitchen or powder your behind.

It’s there when you need to play, the airplane waiting to be folded…the joint waiting to be rolled…paper-dolls hiding, just a few cuts away…crossword puzzles and putt-putt scorecards and pretty flowers bursting forth from simple colored squares to decorate a gift for your love...and the one and only thing that ever beats Rock…

It’s both the Kite and the Tail…neither one’s all that good at flying without the other…they just keep going in circles before crashing to the ground…

Paper cuts, too…unexpected test results that change your life…subpoenas and last wills…but more, it binds this life together in the oddest ways…it’s the family trees and the flypaper…seed packets and history books…diplomas and death certificates…traffic tickets and ticker tape parades…it wraps the fish and lines the bird cage.

Paper is maps and calendars and blueprints and music scores and constitutions and price tags and licenses and insulation for freezing feet and the far-off smell of our youth, trapped in a freshly printed mimeograph or an ice cream sandwich wrapper.

And of course, it’s always there when you need to create. White…a blank page or canvas…his favorite…so many possibilities.

I guess it’s no wonder, really, that the traditional gift for the first anniversary is Paper. If you can survive of year of your own and each other’s paper, you can probably handle a whole lot more after that. Seems like good enough reason as any…

I can’t seem to get out of the habit myself, now that I’ve given you the photo book and the quote book and what seems like hundreds of cards and notes and such.


There is something, however, that I need you to know:

During various states of insobriety, I’ve asked you something that I won’t ever ask you again. I love you, and it doesn’t matter what pieces of paper come and go through our lives—paper doesn’t change anything or anyone. And I certainly don’t need that piece of paper (or anything else, for that matter) to let me know how much you love me or what we mean to each other.

For somebody who likes to say how simple something is, I’ve made it a hell of a lot more complicated for far too long.

No more.

4 comment(s):

Jodi

lovely.

soccer mom in denial

Oh darling. Hug.

painted maypole

oh what a great piece of writing.

Paper is rather miraculous. But what a lovely ending to your ode to paper. Lovely.

Jenn in Holland

Brilliant.
You sweep me away when you write like this. I am literally breathless here, Ambassador. Just brilliant.

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