Grief is a sacred journey

When Life Has A Plan: Intuition, Synchronicity, & Love

My motorcycle animus, 1967

In Honor of Our 50th Anniversary
May 18, 1968 – 2018

By the time I was twenty, I was used to my mother living in a different country every year, knew what classes to take at Cornell, and was ready to apply to Berkley for graduate school. I also knew I would live in a downtown apartment with my roommate and her boyfriend during senior year.

That spring of 1966, my roommate’s fiancé was drafted. He had noncombatant status, but was still sent to Vietnam. My friend needed to live alone and create a home for her husband when he returned. Her heart was broken. What could I say?

So in the last days of my junior year, I was stuck without a roommate or a good place to live. Two girls I vaguely knew needed a roommate. They planned to live in Hasbrouk Heights. Brick boxes on the other side of campus. Lousy compared to downtown, but better than a dorm.

Hasbrouck Heights

By the time classes began that fall, I knew these roommates wouldn’t work. I was more interested in politics and graduate school possibilities than constant boozing and TV. At least they had cars.

“Want to go to the motorcycle shop downtown?” Julie asked. Hormones frolicked around campus on a warm September afternoon.

“I met a guy in Puerto Rico this summer,” Julie said. “Very cute. A graduate student with a motorcycle. He said he hangs out at the shop on the corner of State St. and Corn.”

I was bored and lonely. “Sure,” I said.

We walked into the grungy shop filled with rusted motorcycles, greasy guys who needed showers, and a burnt oil and exhaust fume smell. I’d dated Ken who had a motorcycle that summer, so I’d been in the shop before. Ken had moved away to go to graduate school. I didn’t miss him and didn’t want to meet his mom which was what he had in mind.

Vic, 1970

I knew the owner of the shop and was glad to see a friendly face, but at the back of the shop, I noticed a guy with wavy black hair wearing coveralls, bent over an upside down motorcycle carcass with a wrench in his hand. Julie called out and walked toward him. I stood by the door, stunned. By what? I didn’t know. He’s just like my father, a voice in my head said. I want to marry him. What? He didn’t look like my long dead dad. I didn’t even know the guy’s name.

He straightened his back and wiped his hands with a greasy rag.  He was shorter than my dad, but had a similar easy smile. He politely told Julie he was busy fixing his broken machine. We stayed a short time, he went back to motorcycle mechanics, and we decided to leave, but I was desperate to find a way to see this mystery man again.

with Vic, 1970

“Any parties this weekend?” I asked the shop owner.  The motorcycle guys, a mix of townies and students, had lots of parties.

“Sure,” he said, “at my dad’s house. I’ll pick you up.” Wrong guy, right party.

At the party, I flirted with the dark haired stranger named Vic and pretended I was drunker than I was. “Would you be my friend?” I asked with a flirtatious smile.

“Yes…but I heard you dated Ken during the summer. I couldn’t do that to one of the guys after you broke up with him.”

May 18, 1968

I wanted to argue that Ken wasn’t a close friend of his. I wanted to say it was Vic I was supposed to meet that summer, but instead he was doing research in Puerto Rico at the Arecibo Observatory. I wanted to say it was good to be noble, but was it necessary to be that noble?

I realized this might be harder to pull off than I’d imagined, but there had to be a way. I’d walked into that motorcycle shop, hadn’t I? Heart and loins on fire, nothing could stop me.  He was the one. Besides, he had an apartment downtown.

***

It’s been 52 years since that fated meeting and 50 years since our wedding. The memories feel fresh. What events from the past stay alive within you no matter how long ago they happened?

My friend Deborah Gregory, a writer, poet, and author of A Liberated Sheep in a Post Shepherd World, was inspired to write a love poem for Vic’s and my Golden Anniversary. On the day of the anniversary, I’ll honor the gift of our marriage by writing Vic a letter. I’ll include Deborah’s poem, but you can read it now: The Goddess and Her Green Man. While you’re at Deborah’s website, look around and enjoy her writing. For a story about Vic’s and my wedding day, see My Hippie Wedding: May 18, 1968.

20 Comments
  1. Dear Elaine, What a beautiful way to honour your 50th anniversary by sharing here with us the first time you ever saw Vic and how you experienced deep knowing with just one look! Intuition, synchronicity, & love, your title speaks volumes! I love the thought of you writing a love letter to your beloved Vic. I am deeply honoured to know that my little poem is to be included. There is so much to say, and many tears of joy and sorrow fall on this bright and sunny afternoon, here on the other side of the world, in another garden filled with birdsong.

    Having read your, “Hippie Wedding” post I feel your friend Robin says it best when she wrote … “I wish I could have been there on the day but your words bring me close.” Me too, I thought, me too! To witness the look of love! To behold the fluttering of a pale yellow ribbon which has aged exquisitely over the years with its golden glow! What a beautiful bride (Goddess) and handsome groom (Green Man) you two were! May your heart’s celebrations for your “golden” day be filled up with love, light and much laughter! In soul, Deborah.

    • Thank you, Deborah, and thanks again for the poem. Your poetic images showed up in a dream with the words, “a ribbon is the right tool.” Ah, mystery… I’m thinking about ribbon. Your poem also made me consider the term Golden Anniversary, words used by my grandmas that made me roll my eyes when I was a kid. But now I’m their age and we’re talking GOLD! If I look at our marriage as an alchemical vessel for the refinement of our souls–from unrefined matter into gold–it becomes a powerful symbol for the Path of Marriage and Love. I’ll begin writing my letter to Vic today to celebrate our anniversary tomorrow. I still have the yellow mini-dress I made for my wedding day, but the ribbon disappeared in time. I’m forever grateful for your poem and for sharing in the celebration from across the ocean.

      • “A ribbon is the right tool”… hmm, they’re most intriguing dream words! What a wonderful gift from your soul to unpack. The way of the dream is an alchemical path of pure gold! I haven’t explored the symbolism of ribbons yet, especially yellow ones … for now what comes immediately to mind is the well-known song … “tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree” … which reminds me of, how, last year, I tied several ribbons around my favourite four trees (back cover of my poetry book)… just a thought, perchance there’s a certain tree in your woods, upon which a yellow (or golden) ribbon could be tied. Blessings always, Deborah.

        • Deborah, I know those trees on the back cover of your book–ancient oaks with huge roots clinging to the earth and going deep within. And I know that popular song. Vic asked to have his ashes under his favorite red oak in our forest. I bought yellow ribbon yesterday and know just which oak needs a decoration on our anniversary day. Another part of the ritual I’ll create.

      • 🙂

        • I just read your post, Marian. I’m sorry for your family as you go through another big loss. I think I misspelled your name in my comment because I’ve been reading my teacher Marion Woodman’s books. Forgive me and correct the spelling if you’d like. Now I know that Mark was still on this shore a day or two ago. I’m so glad you and your sisters are with him and are together to support each other. It’s wonderful that you’re keeping track of the conversation that strikes your ear. It will be so precious later for your heart to remember the exact words. Sending you love and gratitude for taking time to read about my motorcycle guy.

  2. So love this, thanks for the smile! No accidents, these synchronous meetings (‘I want to marry him’, Love that!)

    • Thank you, Lori. At the time I didn’t know the word synchronicity and didn’t have a clue about searching for meaning in life. The experience was a gift and a turning point. I didn’t assume it would work out. I knew I would do everything to try.

  3. Elaine, I am left with goosebumps, a tear and a wide grin. I have never met anyone else who knew the person they were going to marry only by laying eyes on them, not having met them yet. I also experienced this and can give no explanation as to how i knew; I just did and thankfully followed my heart. The story of your wedding is sweet and i can feel the love from that day, all these years later. I only wish i could’ve met Vic. I feel like I know him through you though. Thank you for continuing to share your words; you write with such emotion and it leaves me feeling like i am right there with you. I will be sending love (more than usual) on the 18th as you celebrate the Golden Anniversary, without him in the flesh. I hope your loving memories and all the love of your family and friends wrap you in peace and comfort that day. big hugs, Wendy

    • You, too, Wendy? I should have guessed. Yes, we just knew and followed our hearts which for me (and maybe you) meant daring to be hurt. I plan to see you on the 18th in the afternoon at hospicare. As we all know, life still has plenty of love and meaning and volunteering at hospice is a supportive place for me to spend a few hours that day. Thank you for your comment and sweet love.

  4. Elaine, this is so beautiful and uplifting and inspiring and wonderful. Reminds me of my parents’ love. And the photos only add to the magic your words invoke. Love reading about your hippie wedding. Brought back memories; my wedding was a small, intimate affair, the very opposite to what’s normally expected of a Hindu wedding! And Deborah’s poem gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing all this, words cannot describe what I feel.

    • Thank you, Joy. I’m writing that anniversary letter to read to my husband at his cairn in the forest where I’ll also take a yellow ribbon for his favorite oak tree. The letter includes Deborah’s poem. A small Hindu wedding? I’d love to hear or read more about that. Thank you for your loving words and feelings. You’re the second person who mentioned goosebumps. Now I have them, too. Thank you.

  5. Wow what a great story Elaine. Some things are just meant to be and better left to the universe. If you wouldn’t have gone to the shop your life could have been very different. 🙂

  6. A lovely tribute honoring this incredible chapter (volume) in your lives. Today…a celebration of your deep love. Peace today as you remember and honor. My love to you, Mary

    • Thank you, Mary. I know you know. Today I feel gratitude along with a quiet ache of grief that’s there for Vic, for my brother, for my mom, and my mother-in-law whose body keeps going even though she wants to die.

  7. Enchantment was clearly in the air, entwined with open hearts Elaine! Thank you for sharing this with us. Deborah’s poem is beautiful as are your words. I’m remembering much at this moment, maybe also because I’ve been going through photographs looking for those of my husband in prep for an upcoming celebration and while searching came across many wedding photographs – so long ago!

    • I’m not an intuitive by nature, so this experience struck me over the head at the time. It still dazzles me in telling the story. What in us “knows” in that way and so is willing to persist against all odds? I love Deborah’s wedding poem and will sing and dance it to Vic today–with yellow ribbons. Off to the forest.

  8. Awww… I just love it! We can never know where fate will take us. But that’s the best part of it. Belated happy anniversary!

    • Yes, we never know. I longed for love (who doesn’t when they’re 20), but didn’t expect to find it in a motorcycle shop. I created a lovely ritual in the forest with yellow ribbons and poems. Ritual soothes.

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