To The Frozen Pond, An Apology

My fiancé and I fight. Sometimes. I’m told its part of engagement and part of being human. I’m also keenly aware that as much of it is due to my perpetual asinine nature as anything. Hopefully that’s a start.

A couple days ago, we were out walking with another couple by a small pond. The temperature had dipped below zero the previous night and a sheet of ice floated on the surface. I looked at the ice and came to an immediate conclusion: seeing as the temperature had only recently dropped to seasonal norms, the ice couldn’t be very thick. As if to prove the point to myself, I picked up a piece of gravel and threw it into the lake, fully expecting it to bomb through the ice with an edifying crack. Instead it fell with a resolute thud onto the surface where it remained. The ice held.

I was amazed. As my fiancé can tell you, I’m usually not so wrong.

“Look! Look!” I yelled to everyone. “The ice is so much thicker than I thought! The rock didn’t break the surface!”

They paused for a moment. The other couple looked at me with a concerned version of curiosity and my fiancé gave me a sweet smile, the kind of look a mother gives to her three-year-old when he’s elated to discover that with a simple push of the handle his poo-poo disappears down the toilet. So I stifled anything resembling wonder and quietly shuffled away from the lake, leaving the rock sitting on the surface of the ice. Stupid pond.

There’s an old Polaroid picture in the novel I’m reading. I purchased the book this summer at a library and upon discovering the photo employed it as a bookmark.

The picture is of a woman, a young woman, maybe even a teenager. She is standing in a white doorway wearing a black sweatshirt with long brown hair that’s arranged in a ponytail and resting upon her right shoulder. She has her hand outstretched toward the camera with the palm face down so that her arm covers the bottom half of her face. I assume she is smiling, just from the way her eyes are narrowed and the skin around them pushed upward.

I am tempted to believe the world is as I see it. And when the ice doesn’t break I’m tempted to give in to the demons of apathy that so readily piece together the remnants of my pride.

I am jealous of couples who say they never fight, as I am jealous of one who throws a rock into a pond and isn’t the least bit surprised when it doesn’t break through. Sometimes I feel the need to defend the way we are to the world as I see it, one in which true love doesn’t consist of bickering and the girl with her hand in front of her face is smiling and not yelling at the man behind the camera for being an obstinate ass. Even though he probably deserved it.

I mentioned this to my fiancé the other day and she disagreed. “I’m glad we fight,” she said, “otherwise we’d be pretty awful at apologizing.” When alls said and done, I’d still choose her. Again and again.

For there is a photograph of a young woman in my book, she may be smiling but she could also be frowning, angry or even sad. There is a pond outside that is freezing over faster than I’d imagined. There is a world and a cosmos that exists in a mystery that will continue, whether or not I am able to figure it out.

And so I throw rocks and read books and I remain aghast when the world around me proves itself stronger, colder and more beautiful than I had perceived. To the pond, my fiancé, the entire cosmos to which I belong, and the Creator Of It All, I hope you will consider this an apology. An apology for my pride and my hubris, my heart of asinine willfulness and my eagerness to believe in the truth I hold up instead of the Truth That Is. I hope you will consider my perpetual befuddlement and awe as proof of my sincerity.

When alls said and done, I am grateful for moments when my perceptions becoming a boomerang of truth careening back into my face. I am thankful that reality is reality whether or not I see it as such and thankful that my hubris is capable of cracking before the ice on the pond. I am thankful for the grace that grants photographs in old books, composure to apologize, pretty women to smile, and wonder in the face of it all. Lest I just become an obstinate ass, permanently.

So my fiancé is grateful as well.

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