Act Two enters Stage Left

Lee walked around the wooded neighbourhood with his wife one last time.

He wanted a pleasant memory to go with the times he’d hiked with her on the Appalachian Trail when they were 14 years young, or when they tubed down a river near Banner Elk, NC, at the age of 12, burning their skin to blisters.

Penpals for six years, dated for six years, married for over 30 years.

After their walk, Lee lit a small piece of peat turf he’d brought with him from Ireland, a nod not only to the times he’d worked on the Emerald Isle but also to shared ancestry with his wife and their recent trip to England and Ireland.

Lee lived a narrative tale, thought out years in advance, able to laugh at the universe and its way of interrupting plans, rewriting narrative, redirecting storylines and plots.

Lee hadn’t meant to meet Guin.

But it happened.

As his wife said, she had pushed him for 25 years to go dancing and she was losing him to very thing that she thought she wanted to do more than he did.

But she wasn’t losing him to dance.

She was giving Lee the extrovert freedom he’d craved from their honeymoon onward, noticing she shushed him and slapped his arm whenever he acted like himself.

She had given him stability when his extroversion knew no end.

But it had driven him to suicide, knowing inside that his extroversion was a symptom not the cause of his acting out.

Guin had given Lee free rein for his extroversion, which was the calming effect he didn’t know he had sought.

They had fallen in love and fallen out of love, walked toward each other, almost ran, bouncing up and down, itching to dance, and walked away, exploring other avenues of thought and action, not talking for months.

Lee watched men and women come and go in Guin’s life, not getting in the way of her freedom to be herself.

Sometimes, neither thought the other might show back up.

But they persevered.

It was for something greater that they had become friends for life.

Lee drew a long breath of turf smoke into his lungs, igniting memories of Ireland, old memories, centuries old, of working the land, of close-knit communities, of families helping families.

Lee loved life.

He loved living large.

He also preserved time to write about his life.

Lee watched cars go by the front of the house from his viewing point in the sunroom, the steel-blue sky silhouetting trees standing still in the hot spring evening like statically charged hair standing on end.

Would this be the last time he sat out here alone?

How did Guin fit into the rest of his life?

A tree frog glued to a sunroom window croaked.

Lee sipped tea from the tentacled mug he’d bought at Lowe Mill, becoming instant friends with Sycat, who turned clay into art from which one drank tea or served cookies surrounded by an octopus or lizards frozen at play.

How did Guin fit into the rest of his life?

He didn’t need to ask her.

They were artists at heart, just like their shared group of friends and their friends they didn’t share.

Artists fit into each other’s lives like jigsaw puzzle pieces that changed shape at will, making a bigger picture together.

Lee no longer worried about a future without Guin.

Lee knew where he was going.

He’d planned it for decades.

He just hadn’t known who was going along with him.

He saw his face reflected in a sunroom mirror and smiled at himself.

He nurtured enough of his doubts to give his confidence an extra balancing boost, his form of mindful meditation, a built-in self-diagnostic test he’d developed in conjunction with his work on CPUs as a teenager in the 1970s.

He didn’t mind looking back on his life and recalling the fond memories he’d shared with others, including his wife; after all, the memories had formed and would continue to form who he was in the moment.

Accepting rather than denying his whole being, the everchanging set of states of energy in motion, had taken him to this moment, a moment full of anticipation, full of uncertainties, full of thrills, chills and falls.

Lee nodded.

One more trip with his family in its current shape to celebrate a college graduation, Mother’s Day and a couple of birthdays.

And then…?

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