Once upon many years ago, while I was courting my wife-to-be, I wrote her a poem. The refrain of which read, "You can come and go in my life." At the time I was doing everything I could to appear as a witty, clever, and patient potential mate. I was going to play this one very cool. It was important to establish just how much freedom I was willing to install directly into this burgeoning relationship.
Over the years, fifteen of them as married folk, my words have come back in interesting and at times painful ways. The truth is I didn't fully explain myself back then. What I meant to say was, "You can come and go in my life, but I hope you choose to stay." That last bit didn't make the final edit. It wasn't very poetic, and it sounds just a tad desperate.
But that's where I was in the 1990s. I had gone 0-for-the Reagan/Bush administration when it came to girlfriends, and I was becoming very tired of sharing my one bedroom apartment with an ill-tempered budgie named Buttercup. I suspect that Buttercup's temperament was only a mirror of my own, and that made it all the more important for both bird and man to find a resolution.
Then, just shy of my thirtieth birthday, everything changed. I fell in love and moved to California and started a new life. Buttercup got a fresh start as well. She went to live with my niece. And I believe that I owe this upheaval, in no small part, to those words I wrote in my spiral notebook and mailed away in a romantic flurry. Did I know what I was getting into? Would I have had my lawyers look the document over before sending it? Should I have taken time for a rewrite?
Nope. Those were magic words. They changed two people's lives, and by extension dozens more. Since then, I've written a poem or two to express the love I feel for my wife. Many of them have been quite clever, but none of them has gotten me into the trouble that first one did. And you know what? I love trouble.