This Island

For our wedding, Alek’s sister Leanna created a gorgeous piece of calligraphy for us. It has two layers. The first layer is over 5,000 words — poems, posts from this blog, stories, song lyrics — that are shaped into our loft. The couch, the walls, the bed, the desk, etc. The top layer of the piece has the lyrics of the song Everlong drawn in a big, mad, wild, conceptual way on this lovely transparent paper and when the two pieces are pressed together, you can see all of the words written in the shape of our house.

Leanna worked on the piece for months and she told me that she wanted to make me cry when I saw it. (That was quite an easy task given the white hot ball of emotion that I was in the week leading up to the wedding.) And while the calligraphy is incredible and gorgeous and definitely would have made me cry on its own, it was a poem that Leanna wrote in the space that represents the island in our kitchen that really got me.

The poem is about the three of us. Me and Alek and Leanna and all of the time that we spent together on that island. The poem is about me and Leanna and the relationship that we’ve made. The poem is about our inside jokes. The poem is about our friends. The poem is about our families. The poem is about our traditions, past and present. The poem is about happiness and love and memories and all that has happened in the space of the last three years. The poem is an incredible gift. I of course made her read it at the wedding.

Oh, and for the record, when I saw this for the first time, we were sitting at the Island in our kitchen, with glasses too-full of wine and Pho Green Papaya spread all around us. It was perfect.

This Island

This island
Empty but for papers strewn
And an open book
with problems to solve
You look on from the safe distance of the desk
At me on the right hand of Alek
Bending over his work, endless formulas and calculations
While I giggle at the stylized bird finger adorning each page
Next step, next step

This island
Where I set out my computer
After I let myself in
With my spare key
Comfortable to come whenever
And take snacks from the fridge
Open containers only

This island
Holding our duct tape bags
Overflowing with your produce
After the farmers market
The bags were never big enough
To fit the fresh bread for Alek’s Lamb ragu

This island
Arrayed with craft accouterments
Where me and Lesley scoffed
at the idea of making jewelry
Fifteen minutes later
Sitting beside Liv and Gwyn
Trying to find the best beads
I still have those bracelets

This island
surrounded by friends and family
at my going away party
With all Alek’s friends
Because any friend of Alek
Is a friend of mine
I was tilty from the white sangria

This island
Underneath painted pipes
A gift from Alek
He thought your ceiling needed a little color
Who knew cupid dealt in copper?

This island
Topped with 3 pages of careful instructions
A Lucy litany to guide me through the weekend
A fairly high maintenance list
For such a low maintenance dog

This island
Under the watchful gaze of the candy jars
Converted to hold granola hippie health food
Stand sentinel
Mourning the loss of their fallen comrade
Another victim of Brad’s inability
To judge his own strength (considerable)
Or size (enormous)
His replacement sits
Squat and sullen
Beside its more fashionable neighbors

This island
Covered with Pho Green Papaya
Panang, sticky rice, and satay
Or Settebello
Bianca, Caprese and Margherita
We always knew exactly what we wanted

This island
To which I cling after a precariously
Balanced jar of lazy peanut butter and jelly
Conspired with inattentive fridge packing
RIP middle toe

This island
Home to a temperamental stove
A living monument to the endless mystery
Of how the sum of working parts
Can produce something dysfunctional

This island
Where you stand
Across from me and Alek
Bemused that Houses will eat anything
But we won’t open the bag
You have no chance against
Mom’s operant conditioning

This island
Balanced out by the addition of Alek
His wine rack
Perfectly proportioned
Measured to fit
The empty space beside your off-center stove hood

This island
Just far enough from the couch
To justify the wine glass filled to the brim
It was never meant to hold so much

This island
Hidden under PF Chang’s boxes
While I showed Liv that there are
Better restaurants than Panda express
She’ll never be able to go back

This island
Full of platters
An endless procession
of Party food
For all the events I helped you Jenkins

This island
Where I chopped fruit
lettuce, meat,
Rolled goat cheese
Drizzled honey
You and your mom always gave me the repetitive jobs
You knew that I would be no good
At making everything pretty

This island
Crowned with a bottle of wine
And unmatched DI glasses
“Sets” and “new” are overrated

This island
The morning after
Where I sat with a hot coffee after a night
Stretched out on your couch
With Lucy beside me
Any excuse to sleep over was a good one

I know this calligraphy is about you and Alek
About how you met each other
About all you overcame and got through
About how much fun you have together
About perfect timing, about being your best self with him
About how you crystallized the Alek identity by your presence
A catalyst for all things good about Alek

And I want it to be a prayer to the universe
To any higher power
Any being with control over
The unknowable future and
The ungovernable events before us
That your everlong is full of all good things

For you
is at the other end of the counter
In the midst of your discovery, your encounter
Alek finding you, or you finding him
Or your meddlesome and wise parents
Throwing you together because
They liked Alek so much
And really, who doesn’t like Alek?

But I will take this little corner
At the center of my relationship with you
And by extension
My relationship with Alek-with-you
Where I spent so much time
On stylish metal bar stools
Carefully chosen
to accentuate the space
to bring everything together

This space is mine
I claim this oasis
I take this corner
For me

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