My Mud Dancer

family story

They never tell you, when you get married, that part of your job is to inspire your spouse. I thought mostly about what I was getting out of the deal when I said ‘I do,’ not so much about what new things I’d have to give, and what old things I’d have to get rid of.
My wife inspires me. She likely wouldn’t agree with that statement, reading this her expression is probably something like a partially digested ‘huh?’ Its hard to describe, but she nourishes me every day.
There are a lot of noble things I could say about her, about why she inspires me. They would all be true, but not true every day. Some days she’s almost as hard to deal with as I am.

My Beautiful Mud Dancer

When I say she inspires me, I mean her presences adds inspiration to every moment of my life. Its not that she tries to be kind to me when I’m being awful (she does), or that she makes sure to compliment me about things she knows I’m really insecure about (no I’m not going to say anything about THAT here). Its about the essence of who she is and how it guides me to make more of my own life.
The best way I can describe it is to tell you a story about our wedding. That was a truly outstanding party. We planned it in May in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains. We visited our site obsessively, picking up trash, tending the redwood circle we were to be married in with excited devotion.
Even during the rainy months leading up to the wedding our circle was never too wet, always just perfect in the cool forest dampness. Which is why we were so surprised to find our idillic circle turned to a mud pit the day before our wedding.
If you were to approach the scene that day you’d find me hunched over in the mud using an old soda can as a scoop as I tried to bail out the mud pit. You can’t really bail out a mud pit, not with a soda can. My wife was surrounded by her many advisors (my Dad and Mom included) trying to talk some sense into me.
She eventually did and it went something like this:
“We’ll include it.”
“Include it, are you sure?”
“But what about your dress. And we have a lot of guests sitting here.”
“We’ll move people back, and I’ll take off my shoes.”

Our Feet On Our Wedding Day

And so it went. Surrounded by about a hundred friends and family, the next day we approached our mud pit from opposite sides. We both paused to take in each others presence, then I stepped into the mud pit. All eyes were on Terry as she hiked up her vintage silk gown and stepped gleefully into the mud. I can still remember the sound of the collective gasp from our audience as the hem touched down and the squishing sounds wafted up through the trees.
Neither of us wore shoes for the rest of the day. We danced to marimba music across twigs and stones and more mud. The next day my feet felt like hamburger. I remember that feeling with pleasure.
Years later we have a four year old son, and are hoping to adopt another. There are mud pits in the middle of our lives at least once a day. When I’m timid about what to do, I know Terry will be there, a lovely gown drawn up as she smiles and hops in with both feet.
I can’t say our life together is a party, but boy do we know how to have fun. Terry inspires me, I’m learning to follow her lead, take a breath and sink into that good mud.

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