Secret Vows

During this period, Jewel and I were working to perfect our merger. The process was amusing: we'd lie inside each other, but separate from each other. When we tried to push ourselves together, an uncontrollable shaking would seize me. At times, we tried simply to merge our arms. Mine would flail around wildly. Obviously, we were trying too hard. We were focusing on merging at the level of our nervous systems, which created feedback loops in our motor control circuitry. Finally, one night we just stopped trying, and fell into each other through all the dimensions of our existence.

What a peaceful sensation.

Perhaps reflecting on our experience with the Catholic Church, she came to me a short while later and asked me what great thing I would like to accomplish after we married. I paused. The question didn't seem proper. I responded that marriage was not about glory and social accomplishment. It was relief from those things. It was dinner on pillows in front of the fire, the softness of a maple leaf rubbed between our opposing palms, sitting together on the bank of a mountain stream and squishing our toes in the mud, and the tender kiss of welcome and parting.

Women have taken to telling me that I say the right things, and I guess I did that night. What exquisite passion and release. My body fell away, and our joined spirits drifted through a grey haze.

When we came back to earth, she was withdrawn. I pushed a question at her, and she replied, with a yearning from deep within, that she wanted children. And, with the air of triviality that presages our most unexpected accomplishments, I said: "Well, that's easy. The sperm goes in here, through the uterus, up the Fallopian tube, and makes a baby with your egg."

A little more than a week later, the news came in terms somewhat different than I expected. "Great. I was trying to avoid notoriety - and now this." She was pregnant.

She took dramatic measures, exposing herself to enormous risk. Every Thursday, I drove down Tampa Avenue to my counseling appointment in Northridge. For two weeks, I could feel a presence building down the street, but it dissolved before I got to the corner of Nordhoff Avenue. Then, one Wednesday morning she came to me in a dream, wearing a deep green sweater. Thursday morning, I could feel her once I left the freeway, and this time the connection built unrelentingly until I reached Nordhoff Avenue. I stopped on the red to make a right turn, and a red-haired woman was crossing the street, wearing warm earth tones and the most ridiculous green scarf - exactly the color of the sweater the previous night. Bizarrely, I could not make out her face. Every time I looked at it, the air seemed to shift. She reached the corner, and I made my turn, drove down the block as the connection dissolved, and then looped back around. An unmarked shuttle bus was on the corner. I drove through the parking lot past a bridal store, then down the street after the bus. The sense of connection was still very strong, but confused and uncertain.

I made my left at Plumber and drove to my counselor's house. I stopped to make a phone call on my cell phone to one of the parent's in Gregory's kindergarten class. My counselor normally waited for me to come to the door, but that day she came rushing out, excitedly exhorting me to come inside immediately.

Our session began unremarkably enough, but thirty minutes into it I could feel a virtuous love building outside, and invading the room. The energy filled the air with nearly palpable threads of connection. My counselor, fascinated, reach into me and rearranged it. The threads vibrated. I felt loved, love such as I had never experienced before, love so welcoming that I almost lost myself in it. My counselor asked me where I was, and I responded that I was in the presence of the most tender and welcoming love I had ever known. I thought to stand up and walk outside, but the impulse died in me. A few minutes later, she drove away.

She became despondent, and prey to self-serving counsel. She decided to take her male consort as a cover. The build-up to the wedding was surreal, as was the reporting of the event. The pictures in the paper showed Jewel in a plain white dress and holding a bouquet of flowers, looking more like a girl at confirmation than a woman at her wedding, standing alone against a hillside. Photos of the event, and in the aftermath, never showed her embracing her new husband. One afternoon, I stopped by the store and a tabloid headline caught my eye: "[Jewel] in Bizarre Marriage Farce."

His name was on the papers. We were married in spirit the night our child was conceived.