Just after our one year anniversary, Jack and I flew from Hanoi, where we had spent a month leading an English language camp, to Seattle, where we had decided to make our new home.
My memories of that first jet-lagged week in Seattle are both clear and cloudy. We stayed at Jack's sister's place, in the spare room, and took dim evening walks around Greenlake. Everything was grey, cool, clean, and silent, compared to the sensory overload of Hanoi; we lay in the double bed on top of a white down comforter and watched The Office on DVD, long hours of the night when we couldn't sleep. In the mid-morning we ate yogurt and granola at a sun-dappled table and wondered precisely what kind of new land we had discovered.
Jack's sister and her husband shared their house with Anna and Luke, all of them Taylor grads who had married just after graduation and found their ways to Seattle. The four of them welcomed us into their little community in the seconds before it began disintegrating.
I always think of Anna and Luke around my wedding anniversary, because that week they were making a mix cd to celebrate their third year of marriage. They had compiled a playlist of their favorite songs from the year, and were burning it to CDs, hand decorating covers, to share with all their friends.
They had made something lovely together that otherwise would never have existed.
We adopted that idea, and every year around our anniversary I post our song list, Jack draws some cover art, and we pass CDs out. Every year I think about how I don't listen to as much music as I used to, and every year I think about the first mix cd Jack made for me, that softened my angry heart in Chiangmai, and every year I think about Anna and Luke.
Anna and Luke divorced two years ago. I don't think they ever got to a year six playlist. I never knew them as well as I wanted to, and I can't really say if life is better for them each now, apart, than it was then, together, but whenever I think of them (which is whenever I think of my own anniversary) I'm sad; because whenever there is love, and then there isn't love anymore, something beautiful is lost, broken. It sounds cliched, but: they were so young for it to end.
I wish we could go back to that cool late summer in Seattle, before so many things were broken (though some are stronger now), and just share a house again, and watch tv late into the night, and eat breakfast across the table from each other. A little more openhearted this time, a little more wise, we'd listen together to the music they made.