This morning I found a photograph of my husband, Larry.
Larry how he used to be.
I thought about shoving the photo back into the book it fell out of before too much history backed up on me, which happens whenever I stare at photos too long. After all, I fell in love with Larry when I was twenty.
Larry — so self-directed, so handsome.
And, sure, I could try and torque the way my memories will go, but sometimes surrendering to the moment is just as important. I wound up focusing on the photo until all my thoughts found their way into the deepest, most tender places.
I stashed it. I didn’t chuck it or anything, of course not, but I hid it in another book. I could frame it, but, unlike most of my friends, I don’t have dozens of photographs adorning the shelves of my home. I will again one day, surely. There used to be photos everywhere. But my work requires I be a tad nomadic and too many photos sort of short circuits my flow.
For instance: It wasn’t that long ago I tried letting my Photo Folder revolve as my screen saver. One by one, my past came at me in two second intervals. It drove me nuts. I’m quite proud of my achievements, the lives I’ve lived. But all that emotion really slowed me down.
I’ll forget half of what I saw in the photo if I don’t get on with it: Larry. Specifically, his hands. Knuckles swollen from building the sailboat we were to live on. Our first home. His fingers were the color of coffee. New skin grew right over the dirt. Callouses so thick. When nicked, they drew no blood.
And look at his mop of curly hair!
About a year before the photo was taken, Larry picked me up hitchhiking. I was on my way to the Olympic Hot Springs. We wound up soaking together. I moved in with him a week later. We lived in an old milking barn in Sequim, Washington. It was the eighties.
Back in total-lust stage, Larry couldn’t let his hands rub my Capezio-covered legs without making a crackling sound, or lay in the dark with me on our double sleeping bag, unzipped and opened flat, with hands that prowled easily, without catching on each lofty seam.
That’s how Larry’s hands used to be. I study such things.
Which brings me to Larry’s hands today. Smooth alright. Nick-less as a slab of marble. At the age of forty, like many the boat builder before, he left his “sail around the world” dream to find work that one) paid, and two) let him use his mind more than his hands. Now I call Larry’s hands white-collar-pink. (Between us, this used to be funny.)
Still, then or now, Larry has never wavered from being the kind of man who would never, not on your life, drive a bent nail deeper into the grain of mahogany just to get the job done.
Rare, huh? And why, I believe, it used to be that I thought lifelong love was not possible. But not anymore.
Readers, thank you for letting me tell you about Larry. If I didn’t think the photo was connecting us, somehow, to each other, and to the sort of everyday-big-hearted stuff that makes me feel less afraid, I’d have written about something else this month.
And I can’t quite picture that.
MARY LOU SANELLI is a poet, speaker and author of nonfiction. Her collection of essays, “A Woman Writing,” is available from Aequitas Books. She can be reached at www.marylousanelli.com.