"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” -Sylvia Plath "The Bell Jar"
I'm sitting in Aixois- one of my favorite Kansas City spots. It's lunch time on a dreary Saturday. I've been posted up working on a take-home final (sort of) and the lunch crowd is slowly filtering in. Among them is an elderly couple. A husband and a wife; the woman is beyond frail. She looks as though I could pick her up and cradle her like a baby. She eats her lunch awkwardly, messily, and slowly, with much assistance from her husband. Each helping hand to wipe her mouth is a gesture of absolute tenderness and grace. It turns out it's her birthday. The waitress brings out a creme brulee for her with a candle in it. Her husband blows out the candle for her and lets her have it all to herself. When she finishes, she shakily folds up her messy napkin and he pats her hand.
I can't stop watching their interactions. The simplicity of tenderness, the commitment of compassion, years passed, love grown. Time expensed past worldly beauty and independence- when only a deep love remains. A love that is beyond the understanding of those of us that are still young and beautiful. Mysterious and passionate, transcendent of our immature definitions of those things. Sweet silence and acceptance. The power of steadfast love.