Thursday, January 11, 2007

Family Magic

For the past year, my family has enjoyed an empty lot next door overgrown with underbrush, trees and the rats and snakes that go with "nature"--it was a forest there. To our surprise, a family bought the awkward lot and decided to build. They have five kids and will have a big house and no back yard. They have something else.

The house, the mom told me, is their "dream house". Unbeknownst to them, I've been chronicling the building and will present them with a picture book as a housewarming present. The best picture won't make it in the book, so I'll just tell you about it.

I'm sitting here typing, blogging and avoiding cleaning my desk (all this talk about messiness got me busy or thinking about getting busy) and I gaze out my window. The soon-to-be new neighbors are parked on the cul-de-sac gazing at the house. The husband looks at the house with excited awe and looks to his wife's face, puts his arm around her and pulls her close and kisses her. They talk a bit more. They lean their heads into the back of their SUV and talk to the kids. He reaches around her one more time. They kiss again. This time, he leaves his arm to linger around her, his hand coming to rest on her bottom. She relaxes into his arm.

Paul calls marriage a mystery. It is mysterious. Every marriage is different. What makes a marriage mesh and work is beautiful. A happy marriage might have mysterious inner workings, but the face presented to the world looks familiar from couple to couple. That's why people can fake happy. We all know what it looks like. Truly making a life like that? What's mysterious is that anyone who is married knows how challenging it can be to create happness. Leo Tolstoy's opens Anna Karenina,"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

It heartens to see a happy family.

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