This story began, as all good tales of romance, with disaster, when I was struck by a bolt of lightning. The figurative kind, but no less intense or devastating. I’d been in a relationship with my wife for 37 yrs., and like many long term relationships, it had it’s ups and downs. But we worked on it, at it, in it and through it, her and I. The last six plus years had been difficult to be sure, but I, the ever hopeful optimist figured we’d solve our issues, the economy would get better, our life together would improve. We could overcome.
As memory serves, that fateful day started as most past Thanksgivings, a planned get together with a few friends and family. Nothing monumental that I recall, in conversation between my wife and in the preceding days or weeks. Typical martial conflicts looming, end of year bills, home repairs needed before Chicago’s winter set in. So I set about tasks and errands, greeted friends as they arrived and was in a generally good mood. My mindset on Thanksgiving was usually hopeful. My wife and I had owned a retail art gallery for the first 27 years of our relationship, the time between Thanksgiving and Xmas, while stressful, had a beginning and end and we were usually thankful for making it through the prior eleven hard months. While in retail, we had decided to get married, picking X-mas Day to join in matrimony, knowing we would always have the day off and being Jewish, we saw no conflict with other celebrations. Plus, we would never forget the date.
It had been my habit on Thanksgiving to ask my wife what she wanted for her anniversary. And so, as the evening worn on, I pondered the question and waited for an appropriate time and pause in general conversation. I remember tapping her on the shoulder to turn around. I remember asking the question and remember stumbling backwards. I must have looked stunned, time disappeared. A friend was next to me asking if I was alright. I shook my head and mumbled something. My mouth, to dry to speak. Looking around, my wife was already back in conversation with someone as if nothing meaningful had transpired.
Some people call me Harper, for in the past few years I’m never without my harmonica. It’s part of me, part of the identify I’ve struggled to piece back together while on the road to discover who I really was. I needed to rediscover what was meaningful in my life, what was truly important, who I wanted to be, how, where and I wanted out of life. Pulling a tune from my harp that resonates with my being, has much in common with pulling words and feelings together for this blog. To help in bringing together pieces of my past with the person I have become, I have taken the name Harper as my own.
This is the story of my Grand Adventure, a personal journey, up from the deepest, darkest part of my being. It recaps my wandering, the paths toward renewal of body and spirt. It’s based on notes from the journal I’ve been keeping. Entries that explore detours and rocky roads, brief encounters and thoughtful revelations. Mine is a tale of revelation, with switchbacks following a winding road in my search for truth. Truth in who I had been and why. It’s replete with gaps, that often get revisited with new insight and observations as I reason out the past to direct my future. It’s a story I share as I puzzle out the pieces, as I rejoice in the life I have chosen and happiness I try and find with each passing day.
And why, you might ask, is my tale told as a tale of romance. Because, I’ve discovered, the search for and experience of romance on infinite levels, has been a driving force in my life.
My search for a new meaning to life began feeling very much alone. As a child the “Lone Ranger” was a hero. The attributes I needed in order to continue on were self reliance, strength and courage. All alone I would range forth and find myself. My role was cast, replete with a trusty steed my “Silver Bullet”… So…Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when out from my past…
(to be continued)