Reflections on Belonging
Years ago I read a quote that only people that are already married can get married. I’ve suspected that would be me one day adding to the familiarity of the story I heard tonight.
As they sat together in their hot non-air-conditioned apartment in San Francisco and I on my breezy terrace overlooking the ocean in Mexico, I had the privilege of learning about Tyler and Molly’s unique love story. At times like this I adore technology. In spite of the occasional internet interruptions on Skype, I felt as though we were meeting in person.
Two comfortable- with- themselves, thirty-something’s, who have been together for 12 years, have decided to get married. In his no nonsense kind of way, Tyler wanted to address right off what he called the “the elephant in the room”, their slower than traditional timing. He said they both have felt as if they’ve been married all along, hence the lack of urgency. A wedding now is more about confirming what they’ve known, celebrating with family and friends and the next step in starting a family.
I found myself liking these two, their realness and their unquestioned knowing about belonging with one another. Not in a fairy tale, “everything’s been rosy” kind of way, they were both quick to clarify, but with the way life is, sometimes hard and sometimes easy. As Molly said, “we’ve just never gotten tired of each other”. As officiate of their upcoming wedding here in Sayulita, I am grateful to get a clear sense of who they are together so that their ceremony is intimate and authentic.
As they shared stories about their history, I found myself reflecting on nature. How an oak doesn’t ask in the midst of a sunny day, “should I grow or do something else?” I felt that they, too, over the years, had kept doing what was natural, supporting each other’s best selves. And like the oak, deeply rooted, seasons changed, they finished educations in different states, took right jobs which required being apart for periods of time, yet never lost who they were together and the connection that they both relied on. In Tyler’s words “Molly always made me feel more whole”.
As I listen to them collaborate on their wedding I see how these two know their own true natures as individuals and as a couple, what feels real to them and what doesn’t. Being an “already married couple” they’ve figured a few things out. And as with most couples who have learned how to love unconditionally, the presence of kindness is palpable. At one point stating that they both appreciated poetry more than scripture, I suspected that even my virtual sitting here with them tonight was also not by accident.
Being with Molly and Tyler reminds me of another experience here in Sayulita on the bay.
A committed organization in this village helps to save the sea turtles from becoming extinct. Every year between June and December a dedicated group of volunteers rescue sea turtle eggs from the hands of poachers and then bury them in a safer place where they can hatch. The babies are then returned to the sea where they belong. Releasing the infant turtles has become a beautiful community event. At 6pm every night locals, children, nightly regulars and some curious tourists line up on the beach ready to free the lucky survivors.
The first time I participated I was touched in a way I couldn’t articulate, something so deep, so primal had its way with me. I watched these small bodies crawl directly towards a home they’d never seen but knew without question. Nature is only itself.
Tonight I go to sleep reflecting on both of these experiences, meeting Molly and Tyler and a poem I wrote last fall after releasing sea turtles.
I think you said it simply, Molly, we all want what “we never get tired of”, what is so natural that it is not based on an intellectual process but a recognition of home or belonging. I think of it as our divinity. We continually arrive by shedding what isn’t true. For, as human beings, unlike nature, we have the option of denying our true natures. But belonging sheds nothing. It just is.
I want to write about belonging
But I have no pure connection.
Two sea turtles are my inspiration tonight.
Rescued from poachers in this small Mexican bay,
A couple of eggs amongst a hundred,
Dug up, then reburied under cage
To hatch safely.
They were now being handed to me
In a small yellow plastic bowl,
Two tiny sea turtles.
I walked down to the shore
Where siblings from the same nest
Had already been liberated
And were marching.
A line of onlookers, all holding
Yellow empty bowls, snapping photos
With their i-Phones.
As I placed my day old mates
Gently on the sand
One flapped quickly
Towards the approaching line of sea foam,
The other’s choreography, slower, slightly
Zigzagging, but never off course.
Both running faster now
Towards the taste of salt
What it must have felt like
Being washed over by the tide
For the first time.
Crashing into their tiny bodies,
A force I knew as drowning
And they knew as life.
I watched for a long time
As they swirled in waves
Like two dark pebbles
Then finally disappeared.
I handed my bowl to a gentle
Hispanic woman with “volunteer”
monogrammed on her heart,
Slipped 100 pesos into the donation can,
And managed to say “gracias”
Before my throat
Silenced all words.
What these two survivors
Sent crawling into me tonight
Is unclear and harder yet to write.
For I am no match
In being a poet
For how nature is itself
But I will never stop trying.
Because I want to know how to run
Towards that overpowering, mysterious
Pull of Home
When my wave arrives
And I don’t want to be afraid
Of drowning either.