The Garden

The Garden. Everybody always asks me about the Garden.

It was real. I guess. No way to prove that now. And very beautiful, of course. I didn’t know that then—you have to know what not-beautiful is first.

The best part of it, I would say, was the part—and I honestly don’t know how long it lasted—before I met your mother, because the best part of anything is anticipating it, and believe me, in those days I shivered with anticipation constantly. Of what, I didn’t know, but that was the joy of it—not just that something was missing, but deliberately missing, and it was up to me to fill that hollow place with whatever I could devise. That was how I knew the Garden wasn’t all, and I went looking. Since there was for me no way to distinguish between finding and inventing I found myself looking for something I already knew within me. I imagined her, or felt her, can’t say which, but I could say her now, because whatever I was in pursuit of had calved from me, or me from it, and we were entities. I could have poured my energy into realizing that part of myself. But I chose not to. One thing you can say, she got me up and looking around.

In my forays through the secret ways of the Garden I could always sense when I was near her, but it was a long time before I saw her, or materialized her—how can I know?—and then that moment: when I came around a curve in the path and saw her standing there, waiting. Nothing I have ever seen in my life could rival that first vision. She was as real as me, this exact, perfectly other thing, and I could see my own wonder reflected in her eyes, and could sense her wonder at whether she was imagining me.

I had never felt, and will never feel again, anything like the feeling when our bodies first touched, and interlocked like two halves of a whole. I wish I could, and not merely remember it. But you can’t ever feel anything again, even Paradise, only know that it had its time.

You will have noticed this yourselves. It is our fate.

People have made up stories about a snake, but if there was a snake it was the one within us: our leaving the Garden was inevitable and foreordained the moment we faced each other. And the best thing that ever happened to us. I welcomed it—the chance to define what I was through challenge and toil—to develop the higher powers, ingenuity, creativity. Not that life, especially in the early days, was easy. It was not. Looking back, I don’t know how we survived. I’ll spare you accounts of what we ate in those early days. We made shelter for ourselves, and learned to find and grow good food, and had many years—long years, some of them. We saw you children grow up, and really didn’t know how to proceed in finding you mates—never mind that. We multiplied. We submitted to time, and after so much of it I could barely see the woman I had first seen that radiant day in the Garden in the woman before me now who had shared my life. As always, I could see the reflection of the same thoughts in her eyes, and of course there was no way to see ourselves but in those mirrors.

Love? Well, yes, love, but it took a while for that word to crystallize, for the need of it to be clear. And now we have taken love to its very end.

All these knowledges—of love, of time, of loss—and now the greatest of them all, just ahead.

The blessing inherent in us from the start.

October 1, 2018

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