The Labor Day Weekend, just past, traditionally marks the end of the summer season, and, if not on the calendar, then most certainly in our lives, the start of autumn.
It was typical during my work years for friends and workmates to, upon first seeing one-another after the holiday, ask "how was your weekend"? -To compare notes about places visited, burgers grilled, beers imbibed and good times (hopefully) had.
In my own case my answer was typically that I'd had a wonderful time. But if pressed I'd have to admit that I had typically gone nowhere. Burgers indeed may be been grilled and a few beers enjoyed, but my joy and pleasure generally wasn't due to such things.
No. For me the joy was always the same: The company kept. And for me that meant, especially, Jan. My wife, my friend and my lover.
Now entering the autumn of my life -- our lives -- how really significant that is becomes more and more, well, "obvious."
Was it ever less so than now? No. But perhaps less confidently spoken.
Our society puts great stress on things outside of ourselves. On things done. Experienced. On places gone. On things possessed. Wives, friends and lovers are merely people we have done them with, not themselves, of themselves, the center.
It's odd, I suppose, that such has never been true for Jan and me. Especially so since our relationship is not symbiotic. We are not a couple who are "attached at the hip." We are not one combined person, but clearly two. And in some ways we are very different from one another. Yet being together -- two people sharing time and space -- is what has been central to our joy, and this now for a good many years.
Every human being is an individual. There is no one right way to live a life.
Those eternal words -- that people should be free in their search for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" -- referred not to some collective whole, but to individual persons. For some the fulfillment of those words would include doing things -- travel and experiences -- for others the pursuit of wealth and property. For yet others involvement in the world of the arts and ideas.
Some would choose to do so largely alone. Others with friends. Yet others with an extended family or otherwise related community. And for some, such as myself, several of those things but with, especially, a single person. A wife. A friend. A lover.
As Jan headed out to the office this morning I thanked her for making my weekend so special. She returned the thought and expression. And such were not mere words. We both really, really meant it.
But what had we done to make this past weekend so "special?" Little that I could have shared with workmates.
We talked together some. We did some chores -- yard work, choosing and putting together a fire pit, a bit of house drudgery.
We smiled at one another. We watched some movies together. We did some shopping and took in a restaurant meal. That's it. Nothing "special."
Or was it? How many can say that their weekend was "special" after just doing such things? And what could possibly be more "special" than time shared with the person who is truly central to one's life?
When we are young we look ahead to career goals and the like. Such is (hopefully) purposeful. But little seems to be spoken about finding that right companion to do such with. For a man that'd typically mean a wife, a friend and a lover.
I was never instructed about such things. How then did I know to show care about it? Was it just "luck"?
Or was it because the things that are outside myself never really drew me in? Nor did they Jan. That we were both oddities even among our families and friends -- people driven toward an inner life. Undistracted by so much that is "out there." Free to truly think about what we ourselves valued, in life as a whole and in seeking a life companion?
And thus today, after so many summers, with autumn approaching, I can hear that question -- "how was your holiday weekend? '' -- and answer "Great!" I did just what I wanted to do. And most of all I did them with my very best friend who also happens to be my wife and lover.
When I wish good for others it is particularly that wish. That they find such a companion. A person who just by being there and sharing it can and will make every holiday weekend wonderful.