Moments of supreme clarity sometimes arrive when you’re sopping wet.
At least, that’s how it is for me.
I spent much of last weekend hanging out at Summer Lake Hot Springs. Though the motive for the trip was my speaking engagement at a nearby library charity event, my real reason for going was a fervent desire to soak my bones in the hot springs.
(Insert “bone” joke here. Go ahead, I’ll wait).
The outdoor rock pools were heavenly, but I was particularly charmed by the rustic bathhouse with its large, spring-fed pool. The structure was built in 1928, and a four-inch pipe feeds water from the springs into the indoor pool.
(Anyone want to make the pipe joke?)
The water feels heavenly, and light streaming through the skylights give the place a dreamy, ethereal feel. It’s romantic not only for the steamy heat, but for what adorns the walls of the structure.
Names. Hundreds of them. Joe loves Julie. Raven-n-Mark. Peter & Jenna 4ever. And somewhat curiously, Tooter & Hank.
I swirled around in the water with my gentleman friend, tracing my fingers over the letters.
“Don’t you wonder how many of these people are still together?” I asked. “Like Rod and Tiff – how do you think they’re doing?”
“Or Nick and Kyle,” he added. “I hope those crazy kids made it.”
I sighed. “Once upon a time, all these people were so giddy with love, they carved their names in the wood. Now – how many of them even speak to each other? There’s something sad about it.”
“There’s something hopeful about it,” he countered. “About having the balls to do it in the first place – to make your mark and lay claim to each other knowing it might not last.”
The words socked me in the gut. Not because I’m a romance author. Not even because he had his hands on my bare back when he said it.
But also because he knows. We both know.
Both of us were married before, and both divorced under startlingly similar circumstances. Neither of us wanted or expected our splits, but we both emerged on the other side feeling happy and whole and remarkably stronger.
Under the circumstances, you might expect us to be jaded. We’re cautious, to be sure, but somehow, neither of us lost heart.
I’m sure that eternal optimism is part of what kept me writing romantic comedy even when I wasn’t feeling particularly romantic or comedic. I do believe in forever – even now, knowing what I know about those names on the wall or my own happily ever after that turned out not to be.
It's always true things might not work out the way you hope.
But it's also true they might.
That's enough for me. That's what I choose to focus on, both in my writing career and in my life.
So here’s to anyone who’s had the balls to put yourself out there despite the odds it might not last. Here’s to enduring faith, love, and the hopeful handling of wood.