That first kiss moved warm and electric through my whole body. I loved it. I wanted more of those nerves alert at every end. That kiss followed three hours of conversation within a narrow staircase of my apartment building. Had I been kissed before in the four years since I had left convent life after fourteen years? Indeed kissed, and cuddled, and much, much more. But this time was different.
I let him know that kissing was as far as it would go. Why? I had made up my mind that I wanted to get married. I set a goal to be married within a year, and that was ten months ago. Time was a-rushin’ and, until I had a ring on my finger from a man I couldn’t get out of my soul (or perhaps then it was just my body), my sexual emotions were to remain restrained. On the fourth date I made my goal clear to this extraordinarily good-looking, gentle, caring father and caretaker of four children. I knew I was getting hooked. I was falling for him and, if I didn’t quickly determine whether this man wanted to get married, I would be waiting long after my goal had passed.
“I want to get married,” I said, “and if this is something you are not interested in, then I need to break this off now.” Oh, what insanity! But I stuck to my guns and was rewarded.
“That’s what I want, too,” he declared. And two weeks later, I had a ring on my finger, and four weeks later we were married.
You can imagine the reaction from my parents and siblings. My three sisters were so sure that it would not last that they did not attend the wedding. My three brothers, on the other hand, threw reason to the winds and flew to Florida to support me. My brother, the priest, Johnny, performed the ceremony and convinced my mother to attend.
This October 4, 2014, we celebrated our 40th anniversary. The poem that accompanies this piece attempts to explain the journey that started with an instant family of children ranging from ages 7-16, through the establishment of my own company and the roller coaster ride of success and failure that accompanies almost every entrepreneur, and finally into early retirement with our joys of travel and the realities of aging.
This poem is about how love deepens, how it advances from grabbing our bodies to invading our souls, our very essence. In every sense it is love in our prime.
I love you
Not the love of forty years past
when my body ached with the
frenzy of desire in a short spurt
Nor when the children and I
learned to love each other
as we formed our family,
you leading our way.
Nor the love of thirty years ago
when our struggles to keep alive
stole all our energy. We both hung on,
“I can pump gas if I have to.”
Your positive inspiration kept me going.
We waded through the deep channels
and the marshes, straining toward
the fertile land of retirement.
Nor do I love with the love of then, almost
twenty years. We’ve hiked the path together
in so many corners of the earth
from the near north pole in Alaska
to Canada, Mexico, the Ecuadorian equator,
further Into Chile and up into Machu Picchu,
China, Russia, Thailand, and the bowels of
Kenya, Tanzania, Italy. Sixty countries now.
Now I love you with gray, rippled cheeks,
slowing energy, yours and mine.
I love you with the blood that flows
now gingerly through my veins,
with warm conversation on books,
your friend’s calls or my friend’s new love,
with silent meals, binge watching,
bridge partners, new friends.
I love you with the four
decades of passion’s fibers
woven in my skin, carved in my soul,
drenched with lovely dinners,
diamonds, watches, silk panties,
for who you have been
for who you are.
Aggie Jordan, PhD written for Robert DeLaurenti on the occasion of our 40th Anniversary