Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Sauna Part 307

The beach house was spacious and airy and set high on a cliff, looking out over the ocean. It was decorated in traditional Southwestern colors with a casual flair and the whole place was illuminated with light from the huge windows facing the ocean. But what caught my attention first was Cherie standing there grinning and holding two precious kittens in her arms.

“Oh my Goddess! Look at these little darlings!” I cooed as she handed me one of the tiny furballs.

“We just found them on our doorstep last weekend, Trish! Aren’t they adorable? This one’s my little grey girl, but this orange boy is yours if you want him!” Cherie giggled.

Jon looked at Jim with alarm, avoiding my gaze altogether. He knew what was coming already and he knew from experience thatit was already a done deal. There was nothing he could say to convince me that we didn’t need another cat, let alone a kitten, and he knew my weakness for orange boys-as did Cherie. Jim just stared at the floor and apologized.

“And I thought you were my friend” Jon said under his breath and Jim smirked.

“Baby, little Richie could really use a friend you know” I began and Jon rolled his eyes.

“Thanks, man, I’m gonna get you for this” Jon said with mock menace and Jim snorted as he already knew the kitten was going home with us somehow.

“Trish, how do you plan to take him home on the bike? In the saddlebags?” Jon said in a futile attempt to dissuade me.

“Well of course not! Jim and Cherie will just have to come out and visit when we get home and they can bring him along then” I said, having solved the problem rather simply.

“What are you going to call him, Trish?” Cherie interjected, dismissing any further protests from Jon.

“I think we should name him James” Jon suggested, glaring at Jim.

“How about Jovi?” I grinned, smirking at Jon.

“Who ever said women were the weaker sex never met my wife” Jon shrugged helplessly as he ruffled the fur on the little cat’s head and he started to purr.

“See, he likes the name and he already likes you” I said with a convincing smile.

“Alright, alright, I guess you can keep him” Jon replied as if there’d ever been any doubt. “This means you two will have to come out and stay with us for a bit” he added, eyeing Jim.

“No problem, buddy. A Colorado vacation in exchange for a kitten? Sounds like a good deal for me” Jim laughed.

We moved out onto the terrace to relax before dinner and Jim brought out a pitcher of Margaritas while Cherie prepared a few things in the kitchen. I laid down on a chaise lounge with my new charge while Jon walked about on the deck, stretching his legs. Jovi was soon fast asleep on my chest and I wasn’t too far behind him. I closed my eyes and drifted off, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face.

“So, how’s it been on the road again? You guys have been gone almost a month now, right?” Jim asked.

“It’s been amazing to be really honest. It’s like seeing the country with fresh eyes, man. You feel like a part of it, not just an observer. I notice everything, you know? Like the changes in temperature when you ride through a patch of shade or climb high in the hills. And you smell everything. We could smell the pine trees when we rode through the woods and I could even smell the ocean as we got closer. It’s like nothing else you could ever imagine” Jon sighed.

“I would give my eye teeth to do what you’re doing. Honestly, I really would” Jim said wistfully.

“Why don’t you come with us, man? Seriously. We’re heading down to Richie’s when we leave here. You’d only be gone for a day. It could be like old times” Jon persuaded.

“Shit, Cherie would be beside herself. She freaks out whenever I’m gone for more than an hour or two as it is” Jim said sadly, shaking his head.

“But this would be different. You wouldn’t be all alone-you’d be with us. Cherie would know you were safe” Jon continued.

“You’re a bad influence, man. You’re gonna get me in trouble” Jim said, scratching his chin as he considered the opportunity.

“Consider it payback for that” Jon teased, jerking his head toward where Jovi and I lay napping.

“Look, let me think about it while you’re here, but don’t say anything to Cherie. Let me talk to her first, okay?” Jim pleaded, pursing his lips.

“You got it, bro” Jon grinned, knowing he’d planted the seed.

“Is everyone hungry?” Cherie asked as she joined us out on the deck. “Dinner’s ready.”

As Jon and I lay in bed, with Jovi snuggled in right between us, Jon shared his idea to invite Jim to join us. I was doubtful that Cherie would let him go, but I also knew that Jim’s patience went only so far with her anxiety. If this was something he really wanted to do, and it sounded like he did, he’d do it, with or without Cherie’s approval.

“You know, I’ve got an idea, though. What if you and Jim rode the bikes up to Richie’s and Cherie and I could come up the next day or the following one in the car. It would give me and Cherie some time alone together and we could bring the cats with us. Cherie wouldn’t feel so left out and she might be more agreeable to the whole notion. She could even follow Jim home when we leave Richie’s” I suggested.

“That might just work. I’ll pitch it to Jim in the morning and see what he thinks” Jon agreed as he rolled over to kiss me, gently moving the sleeping kitten.

I rolled over closer and snuggled into Jon’s arms, but we were both a little too tired and a little too sore to do more than cuddle. I fell sound asleep, lulled off to dreamland by the sound of Jon’s snoring blending in with the steady rhythm of purrs from a contented little furball asleep on my pillow.


We spent the next several days at Cherie and Jim’s, walking along the beach, skinny dipping in the ocean and hanging out at the house while we all slowly chipped away at Cherie’s resistance. She finally relented, having realized it wasn’t fair to deprive Jim of the opportunity to do something he’d always dreamed about too. Richie was thrilled when we called to tell him the news.

“It’ll be like old times” he’d said, echoing Jon and Jim’s thoughts.

The guys took off after breakfast and Cherie and I had a day of shopping and spa treatments planned and we were anxious to get going ourselves. It had been several years since I’d been to Tienda Ho and there was a store right there in San Francisco and shopping there was almost as orgasmic as sex, at least for me. The new summer colors had just arrived and we had a heyday, mixing and matching skirts, tops, scarves and belts until we’d exhausted the possibilities. Cherie had two large shopping bags by the time we were done, and me, well, they were shipping my collection in two separate boxes. It was time for the spa.

The shopping spree had managed to keep Cherie distracted for most of the day, but now that we were relaxing in the sauna after an invigorating massage, she started to fret.

“I should call Jim. We haven’t heard from them all day. Do you think something happened?” she asked anxiously.

“Cher, they’re fine. Jon or Jim would have called if anything went wrong. Just relax and enjoy being pampered” I cajoled, letting the warmth of the sauna soothe my sore muscles.

“I’m gonna call him” she announced as she reached for her cell phone.

“If they’re on the road, they won’t hear the phone. Please, just relax. Jon will call as soon as they stop for dinner. Speaking of which, I’m getting hungry. Where should we eat?” I asked, changing the subject.

“I know a great seafood place not far from here-it’s one of my favorites” she said brightly and we gathered our things and headed off for a quick shower.

We’d just ordered dinner when Cherie’s phone rang and I could see her breathe a sigh of relief when she heard Jim’s voice on the other end. My phone rang too and I winked at Cherie before answering the call.

“Hi babe. So did you buy out the store?” Jon’s voice teased on the other end.

“I tried my best, but there were still a few things left when we were through” I teased back and he groaned. “How far did you guys ride?” I wondered.

“Far enough, darlin’, far enough. Jim’s pretty tough for an old man” he chuckled, giving Jim a nudge and a nod.

“So I assume we should head out tomorrow then? It’ll take us about six hours or so” I replied.

“Yeah, that would be good. We took the long way and went up the coast and took a few detours-the scenery is great, but you’ll get here quicker if you take I-5 instead. We’re gonna check out a few places yet, but we should make it to Richie’s by noon tomorrow” he advised.

“Okay, we’ll start out early, if I can get Cherie up at a decent hour, that is. I’ll shoot for mid-afternoon. I miss you, love” I said finally.

“I miss you too, Trish. See ya tomorrow, but drive careful. I love you” he said, sounding tired.

“I love you too, Jon. Get some rest” I encouraged as I hung up the phone.

We finished our dinner and headed back to the beach house. Cherie jabbered all the way home and I began to miss the companionable silence that Jon and I were able to share. Cherie had realized, though, how important this trip was to Jim and she was resolved to allow him more space and she was even thinking of letting him take her out on the bike. But only for a short ride, she clarified. At least that was progress.

I was exhausted when we got home and we both agreed to turn in early so we could get an early start in the morning. Although for Cherie, early meant ten o’clock in the morning. That was okay, though. We’d still make it to Richie’s before evening. I yawned and stretched out in the bed which felt altogether too large without Jon to share it. It was the first time we’d slept apart in several years and I had no intention of making it a habit. Jovi curled up and I snuggled against him for comfort. His warm furry body was soothing and eventually I fell asleep.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Sauna Part 306 (2021)

I remember the year that Jon decided to stop touring. It was just after he turned sixty when he decided enough was enough. He and Richie, along with Dave, had continued to do limited tours for a few years after Tico and Hugh had retired but it just wasn’t the same. Jon had lost heart playing with substitute musicians and the chemistry just wasn’t there anymore, especially without Tico. The last studio album had been several years ago and according to both Jon and Richie, “it just wasn’t fun anymore”. No matter how fast we ran, time still managed to catch up.

That Summer, to fill the void left by touring, Jon and I decided to do something we’d never done. We had always talked about taking a “road trip” on the bike through the Southwest and that time was now. My sister thought we were crazy, but then she was in her seventies by that time. My father would have just shook his head, but he was no longer there to laugh at our antics. He’d passed away some years ago and my mother was long gone as well. Somehow I knew, if my dad was watching, he’d be smiling. He always thought I was a bit wild, but I also thought that was one of the things he admired most. This one’s for you, Dad, I thought to myself as I remembered his dream of doing the same thing in a Winnebago. He never did get the chance.

It was early June and the sun was high in the sky. Our saddle bags were packed and we were ready to go. Little Richie was staying with Big Richie while we were gone; we’d flown him out to California earlier in the week. My sweet baby, Eddie, had finally passed on at the ripe old age of twenty-one and I still missed him dearly. Someday I’d see him again and we’d be reunited.

“Ready to ride?” Jon called as I locked up the house.

“Ready, baby” I smiled as I strapped on my helmet.

We rode that first day for several hours. Over the years we had had the bike customized as the stock Harley seats weren’t all that comfortable, especially on old bones. The new seats were comfortable, but still, after several hours, we began to lose feeling in our asses.

“Jon, let’s stop for a bit” I yelled over the sound of the engine.

Jon pulled over at the next diner that we saw and parked the bike. I swung my leg over to dismount and realized I was rather stiff. Getting older really sucked. Jon steadied the bike to allow me to get off before he dismounted as well.

“Whatsa matter, babe? Are you having second thoughts?” he grinned.

“Not on your life, husband. You?” I challenged defiantly.

“Nope, not me” he smirked back, secretly relieved that I’d suggested we stop.

We strolled into the place and sat down in a booth. My ass was relieved to feel plenty of cushioning beneath it, even if only for a brief while. The diner was nothing special; it was like the hundreds of others just like it that peppered the loneliest stretches throughout the Southwest. What was special, though, was the fact that we were treated like regular customers instead of celebrities. One thing that had changed over time as Jon stepped away from the limelight was the fact that we were now infrequently recognized. Perhaps age had its priveleges after all.

“Beautiful day for a ride. You folks gonna want menus?” the waitress asked.

“Just coffee for me” I said, looking at Jon.

“Bring me a menu, if you don’t mind. A snack wouldn’t hurt” he grinned, flashing his still brilliant smile.

The waitress smiled back and I noticed a bounce in her step that hadn’t been there before when she first approached the table and I shook my head. Damn, he’s still got it, that bastard! I smiled as I realized some things never changed.

I watched Jon as he studied the menu, squinting in order to read the small print. He refused to wear reading glasses despite the fact that he needed them and I had to laugh. I wasn’t the only one with vanity issues. There were definitely more wrinkles too, but his face was as handsome as ever and he still had his hair. He reminded me so much of his father at that age.

“Need some help there?” I teased, reaching in my pocket for my reading glasses.

“Nope, I’m fine” he lied, setting the menu aside. Every diner has hamburgers and fries, he thought smugly.

The waitress returned with our coffee and Jon placed his order and she nodded. I gazed out the window, observing the position of the sun. It was lower on the horizon, but we still had at least four to five more hours of riding time before it began to get cold.

“We should make it to Sedona by nightfall” I observed, studying the map I’d pulled out with my reading glasses.

“That’s what I’m shooting for” Jon agreed.

We had no real plans after Sedona other than to follow our whims and see where the road took us. For once in our lives, we had no schedule and no time tables to consider or fret over. For all intensive purposes, we were retired and we could stop wherever we wanted for as long as we wanted and whenever we wanted. The freedom we felt was like a breath of fresh air and we both felt more relaxed than we’d ever been. The only thing we needed to consider was the weather and so far it looked pretty cooperative.

“I love you, Jon” I said suddenly and he looked up from his hamburger.

“I love you too, baby, but where did that come from?” he asked, quirking his eyebrows.

“I don’t know, really. It’s just sometimes I look at you and I’m so overwhelmed with how much I love you. I’m so glad you’re my husband, love. It’s hard to remember what life was like before I met you. I’m just so grateful for the time we’ve had together” I answered honestly.

“Trish, baby, we aren’t really that old. We’ve still got many wonderful years to spend together, but I understand. We’ve been blessed more than most” he observed.

Jon finished his burger and we walked back to the bike and climbed on. I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him as hard as I could through the leathers. He reached for my hand and squeezed it tightly, revving the engine.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Ready” I confirmed.

We spent a few days in Sedona, relaxing and making love as the mood hit us. We then headed South in the direction of Tucson. We ended up detouring through the Coronado National Forest and we even spent a night camping under the stars. We rode through deserts and mesas, forests and valleys and took turns staying at luxury hotels when our bodies craved a little pampering and camping out in the open when we felt the need for adventure. We spent days in some places and only hours in others and we saw the country in a way that can only be experienced from the seat of a bike.

We’d been gone almost a month when Jim called on the cell phone to see where we were. We’d intended to reach San Francisco where he and Cherie were living a bit sooner, but we’d lost track of time.

“We’re not that far away, actually. We’re in Las Vegas, just resting our butts for a few days” Jon laughed.

“Well, Cherie’s anxious to see Trish and it’s gorgeous here at the moment. Think you might see your way clear to heading over our way?” Jim prodded.

“Sounds like a plan, man. We should be there in a couple of days” Jon reassured him.

Jim and Cherie had moved to San Francisco a few years ago and purchased a home on the beach. Jim had become very successful after his book on the band was published and he’d had no shortage of offers for work after that. He’d written a few other articles on bands and the music scene, but he followed his heart and had begun writing screenplays. After a few mildly successful ones, he hit it big with a movie that brought in several million at the box office. He wasn’t writing much anymore beyond a few documentaries he’d been involved with as a consultant and Cherie had closed her private practice several years ago before they moved to San Francisco.

By the end of the week, we were in California and we had half a day of riding before we reached Cherie and Jim’s. I called to give them a head’s up and heard Cherie’s excited voice on the other end of the phone.

“Trish, that’s great! You’ll be here for dinner! And I’ve got a surprise I know you’re just gonna love!” she squealed.

“We should be there by six, kiddo” I assured her, smiling as I hung up the phone. Cherie was still the kid in the group despite the fact that she was in her late fifties. She was still younger than the rest of us!

We arrived just after six and Jim met us in the driveway.

“So, you two really did it. Dayum! I wish I could get Cherie to just go for a ride” he said enviously.

Cherie had had a bad experience on a motorcycle with her first boyfriend and she’d never forgotten it. Jim still rode his bike fairly often, but Cherie had never been convinced it was safe and she still worried when he was gone for more than an hour or two. We followed Jim into the house where Cherie was waiting.

“Surprise!” she yelled as we walked into the house.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Sauna Part 305

Jon and I became grandparents about a year after Richie and Carla. Stephanie had taken over my duties in managing the Fan Club and in addition to her successful career as a model, she was too busy to consider settling down and having a family just yet. It was Jesse who gave us our first grandchild.

Jesse and his girlfriend had been living together for several years when they called to tell us the news. Only Jesse had followed in his father’s footsteps and abandoned the religion he’d been raised with as he grew older. He and his girlfriend were both avid pagans and they belonged to a coven where they were both very active.

We were lounging around in the gazebo after harvesting herbs for a midsummer feast and the air was heavy with the scent of a coming storm. We heard the phone ring and quickly gathered our things and rushed towards the house, but only in time to hear the message Jesse left on the answering machine.

“Dad, Trish, it’s Jess. Wanna come to a Wiccaning around Beltaine next year?” followed by Jesse’s deep laugh and a giggle in the background.

Jon and I dropped the basket of herbs we’d been holding and stared at each other, dumfounded. Jon hit the playback and we listened again to make sure we’d actually heard the message correctly. As the shock began to wear off and we digested the news, Jon grabbed the phone and dialed Jesse’s number.

“Gods, I’m gonna be a grampa!” Jon said with a smile.

I was happy for Jesse, but for myself, well, I wasn’t so sure about moving into the role of Crone quite this soon. I had a vision of some withered old woman with great wisdom and knowledge and that just wasn’t me. The kids had never called me Mom-I was simply Trish-and I was pretty content with that arrangement. What if this new little babe started calling me Gramma? Nine months didn’t seem like enough time to get used to that idea.

“Hey Dad” I heard Jesse chuckle over the phone.

“Sounds like I won’t be the only one with that title much longer” Jon chirped excitedly.

“Yeah, I’m still getting used to that one myself. Think you can get used to hearing yourself being called Grampa?” Jesse teased.

“You better believe it! I can’t wait to tell Richie he ain’t the only one anymore!” Jon replied.

Jesse and Jon chatted back and forth and it wasn’t long before Jon realized I’d grown rather quiet. Usually I’d be champing at the bit to get my turn on the phone, but in truth I wasn’t sure what to say. I was trying to shake off the image I had about being a grandma. Jon handed over the phone and watched me expectantly, trying to gauge my reaction.

“Congratulations, Jess! It’s wonderful news and of course we’ll be there for both of you! Have you told your mom yet?” I asked, wondering how Dot was taking the news.

“Nope, Mom’s the next phone call actually. Not sure how she’s gonna like being invited to a Wiccaning versus a Christening” he admitted.

“I have no doubt she’ll be happy for both of you. She got through the Handfasting last year, so I’m sure she wouldn’t miss this event either” I said reassuringly.

I remembered the ceremony that Jon and I had attended and how awfully uncomfortable Dot and John had appeared. Jesse and Winnie had opted for a clothed ceremony since they’d invited a number of non-pagan family, but despite this concession, Dot was much stiffer than usual and I sensed her discomfort. She knew how Jesse felt and she accepted his choice of worship, but it was a whole other matter when she was confronted with it head on.

“No, I know she’ll come. I’m just not expecting much enthusiasm from her on that one. How about you, Trish? Will you do the ritual for us?” Jesse asked.

I felt a mixture of panic and pride, but mostly I was touched by the honor he was offering. I’d never conducted a Wiccaning before and I’d need to do some research, but I had plenty of time to prepare. Jesse was acknowledging my place as a Crone and I wasn’t quite ready to step into that role. It was a request I couldn’t refuse, but it confirmed what I’d already been thinking. I’d become a withered old woman in the eyes of Jon’s son. Was that how Jon saw me as well? I wondered.

“Of course, Jesse, if you’re certain that’s what you want. I am honored” I said with a gulp.

“Trish, we would be honored. It’s because of you that Dad found meaning again in his life and I probably would never have realized the importance of spirituality in my own life if it wasn’t for that. I’ve never told you how grateful I am that you introduced us to Wicca” he replied.

I had tears in my eyes and I began to choke up as I handed the phone back to Jon. He thanked his son for the honor he’d given us and slipped his arm around my waist as he hung up the phone.

“Baby, what is it? You weren’t expecting this?” Jon inquired, somewhat perplexed.

“Am I an old Crone?” I blurted out to Jon’s shock and amazement.

“A Crone? Baby, is that what’s the matter? You think you’re an old Crone?” Jon asked incredulously, unable to hide his surprise.

“I’m not even sixty! I don’t wanna be a Crone! Not yet!” I cried in despair.

“Trish, baby, c’mere. That’s not how it is” he said a little more gently, concealing his amusement as he hugged me tightly against him.

Some things were just harder on women, Jon thought to himself with a smile. He never once saw this coming as he’d never viewed me as “old”. In fact, Jon’s image of the Crone wasn’t much different than mine and so it was hard to imagine how I could possibly see myself in that way. But as he started to think more about it, he began to understand a little bit better. The Crone was the third aspect of the Goddess, the wise woman who guided the young and shared her knowledge with those who sought the wisdom of the Old Ways. In that sense, the role actually fit. It was a sign of Jesse’s respect, not a response to my age. The problem was the word “old”.

“You’re not old, babe, just…” he began but I cut him off.

“Don’t you dare say it! You’re making fun of me!” I protested.

“I was going to say wise, darlin’. You’re just wiser than the rest of us. That’s all it means” he said soothingly.

I looked at him sharply, but there was no hint of mockery, no trace of sarcasm. If he’d been teasing before, he was serious now. He knew I was genuinely distressed and his goal was to reassure me, not add to my angst. Damn, if Trish is a Crone, then that makes me the Dying Holly King, he thought soberly. Hell, I’m not ready for that either!

Just as the Goddess has three faces, so does the God. We recognize the Goddess in each of her aspects: Maiden, Mother and Crone and she is always present in one of her incarnations, representing the stages in the lives of women. The God cycles with the seasons and begins as the Child in the Spring and later becomes the consort to the Goddess, the Stag King. As Winter arrives, he is transformed into the Holly King who then dies, only to be reborn once again as the Child when light returns to the earth.

“Jon, we are getting older” I reflected.

“Yeah, but we’re not ready to just fade away. The final Winter will come for us Trish, but not before many more Summers have passed. If you’re a Crone, then you’re the damned hottest one…” he began resolutely but I hugged him and kissed him before he could finish.

“Am I still your Stag King?” he whispered into my ear and I nodded vehemently.

“Then you’re still my Queen” he whispered as he scooped me up in his arms and carried me up to the bedroom to prove it.


The Wiccaning itself went very smoothly. We’d had nine months to get used to the idea and by the time our grandson was born, Jon and I had accepted our roles as grandparents. Someday I’d feel like a Crone, but that time was still a way off and we weren’t in a hurry to get there. Dot and John seemed better prepared this time as well and they seemed more at ease once the formal ritual was over.

“What you said, Trish, during the ceremony-it was beautiful. Really” Dot said as she passed me a honey cake and I poured her a glass of the mead we had brewed for the occasion.

“Thank you, Dot. I’m so glad you were both here. I wish Carol and John Sr. could have been here with us too” I replied.

Carol had passed away in the Fall after a stroke took her life unexpectedly. Jon’s dad was bereft and never fully recovered and he’d left us in the Spring to follow his wife. Jon had been devastated and despite all that had happened, I felt the loss too. Carol had surprised everyone when she became sober and Jon and she had reconciled for just over a decade when the tragedy struck. I was glad he’d had his mom back for a while, even if it meant that he grieved the loss that much harder when the time came. I had wished she could have been there that day.

Matt was the only other family member not in attendance. Jon and he never spoke again and out of deference to his father, Jesse did not invite him. We’d heard from Jon’s parents that Matt had been married and later divorced, but the kids didn’t keep in contact with their uncle as Matt never attempted to make amends for what he’d tried to do to their father. It left a hole in Jon’s heart, but he refused to make the first move and I respected his decision and I actually agreed with it. I never wanted to see Jon hurt that badly again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Sauna Part 304 (12 years later, 2019)

The years had marched on and time had been good to us. Jon and I were as close as two people could possibly be and we’d managed to negotiate the rocky shoals of independence without destroying the bond that kept us connected. The passion we’d shared in the beginning burned brightly still and the flame of desire never left us; it just became a less frequent visitor as we grew older.

Floyd, Opie and Zeke were gone now, but we’d been blessed with our newest addition, Richard the cat, for several years. My sweet little Edward had become an old man and he seemed to enjoy his seniority. There were times when he asserted his position in our household and poor little Richie had no choice but to give ground, but mostly Eddie had become a generous old codger who no longer needed to entirely hog all the attention. Today, however, was not one of those times and Richie was licking his wounds on the floor while Eddie claimed his rightful place on the bed between us.

“He’s still a spoiled brat, you know” Jon baited me, turning towards me in the bed.

“And you’re still just jealous because he always gets what he wants” I replied with a smirk.

“I got what I wanted this morning” he replied with a gleam in his eye.

“I think we both did” I bantered back.

“Touché” Jon laughed, stretching before he sat up.

“French toast?” I asked, making puppy dog eyes.

“Yes, mistress” Jon mocked indulgently.

That was another thing that had changed over the years. Jon had actually learned to cook. Now, mind you, he hadn’t reached the level of gourmet chef-that was Richie’s domain-but he’d learned how to make some pretty passable dishes and French toast was one of his specialties. Jon threw on his robe and padded down to the kitchen, little Richie following in his wake.

“C’mon, lil’ buddy, Daddy will get your breakfast too” Jon cooed to the cat who mewed gratefully back.

It was a glorious day and the sun was shining high in the sky, brilliant against the back drop of azure blue we still saw only in Colorado. We’d sold the house back in Buffalo and we’d kept the place in New Jersey although we rarely used it. Jon had become quite the homebody over the years and he still didn’t care much for hotels after so many years of touring. It was good to have a place of our own when we decided to visit New Jersey and we did fly back fairly often to see the kids.

Stephanie had grown into a beautiful young woman and she’d begun a career in modeling, so she stayed close to the city. Jesse lived in New York in a loft where he had plenty of space to work on his painting and he’d begun to develop a bit of a following after his first successful gallery show. Jakey, who now insisted we call him Jake, was a senior in high school and Romeo was a sophomore. Romeo’s name fit him well, too, as he’d grown into a younger version of Jon and had become quite the heartthrob. He’d even started a band.

Jon still toured occasionally, but nothing like he had done in his heyday. Tico and Hugh had rebelled on the last extended tour and Jon had relented, realizing he too was growing tired of feeling so driven himself. When he got restless these days, he found other things to capture his interest and he and Richie still did a number of spotlight performances all by themselves. That was enough.

And Richie. Richie was enjoying one of the best periods in his life now. It had taken a few years, but once he’d become comfortable with himself again, he’d found the love of his life. His soulmate for real. I’d never seen Richie happier than he was now. It all happened a year or so after the ‘Lost Highway’ tour.

Richie met Carla in Rehab where they were both working on maintaining their sobriety. Richie had spent a year toying with trying to control his drinking before finally realizing it really was all-or-nothing when it came to his nemesis, alcohol. After a particularly public misadventure where his drinking and driving had jeopardized Ava, Richie sobered up and realized things needed to change. He hadn’t touched a drop since.

Carla had checked into Rehab on the same day as Richie and they bonded at first out of sheer misery. Carla was just a bit older than Richie, but she was still quite a knock-out with gorgeous blonde hair and a vivacious personality that years of adversity hadn’t dampened. I secretly suspected that she bore some connection to Dick Clark, or at least shared his genes; Carla could have easily passed for being just over forty rather than her fifty-something years. When Richie became quiet and morose, Carla could bring him out of his shell.

Despite all the warnings not to hook up when first reaching sobriety, Carla and Richie were good for each other. They started off merely as buddies, supporting each other in their mutual struggles with the bottle. Jon’s mother actually had become Richie’s sponsor and that went a long way to healing the breech between Jon and his Mom. Both Jon and I had initially been a bit leery of Richie’s blossoming relationship with Carla, but it was Carol who encouraged him to follow his heart. She knew from experience how much it mattered to have a partner who loved you.

Carla was such a departure from Richie’s previous girlfriends and that in itself was a refreshing improvement. She had none of the narcissism we’d come to expect and she stayed in the background when the flash bulbs went off. Carla’s “career” had been raising her children and she’d done a remarkable job considering she’d had little help. Richie found himself welcomed into the fold and it helped take the place of the family he’d always wanted. Carla’s children were older than Ava, but they showered her with attention and took her under their wing. Richie’s home was no longer a quiet, somber abode; it was filled with noise and activity and that suited him well.

Ava had just graduated from high school when Richie became a grandfather for the first time. Carla’s eldest daughter, Maria, and her husband had their first baby and one would have thought the babe had a fan club as the whole clan waited expectantly at the hospital. Richie couldn’t have been more excited if it had been his own child and Ava finally had the chance to play “big sister” herself. It was almost a competition between Grampa and Aunt Ava as far as who got to babysit the golden haired little angel who they appropriately named Angela.

I remember Richie and Carla’s wedding as if it was yesterday. Jon and I had flown out for the week and we ended up staying with Cherie and Jim. Richie’s enormous house was packed to the rafters with family and Richie couldn’t wipe the smile off his face if he’d been told we were under nuclear attack. His joy was infectious and I remember feeling for the first time that he was really okay.

The wedding itself was held on the beach and we were all in attendance when Richie and Carla exchanged their vows. It was a simplified Catholic ceremony, as they had both found their faith in the religion with which they were raised, and while it was very different from Jon’s faith and mine, it was still very spiritual and I cried the whole time. Jon was Richie’s best man, of course, and Carla’s eldest daughter was her Maid of Honor, but she’d asked me to be one of her bridesmaids and I was honored.

“Trish” Richie said, smiling softly after the ceremony.

“Oh Richie…I’m so happy for you” I bawled into his chest.

He patted my back and held me close as he spoke.

“Trish, you don’t have to worry about me any longer. I never thought this day would come, but I finally feel the love I’d witnessed for so long between you and Jon. I never thought it was possible to feel like I do…” he said in a trembling voice.

I looked up at his face and saw the sprinkling of tears that were threatening to fall, but his eyes were full of the love that he’d found. Gone from his face was that haunted look I’d come to recognize over the years and I saw no trace of the emptiness that had left wrinkles of sadness in his otherwise perfect features. Somehow now, they looked like they belonged; a living testament to the pain he’d endured for so long. But that was the past, and Richie was reborn as the man he had always been meant to be.

“Richie, you deserve nothing less. I know Jon and I were skeptical at first, but any doubts that we had were erased some time ago. Carla is a remarkable woman and we’re glad that you found one another” I said honestly.

“Your blessing means the world to me, you know. No one else, besides Carla, knows me like you and Jon. I’m so grateful to have you both here to share in this day” Richie replied as he wiped the tears from my cheek. “So let’s celebrate!” he said with a laugh as the shadows of the past disappeared from his face.

And celebrate we did! It was a fabulous party and we played on the beach for the rest of the day. There was volleyball and swimming for the kids and younger adults and food aplenty for us older folk. As the sun receded beyond the horizon, bonfires were lit and the guys gathered round to sing and play together in a medley of tunes. It was almost a catalog of hits as they strummed their way through the decades of music they’d all shared together. The final song was a beautiful one that Richie had just written for Carla and he sang to her in a voice pure and sweet. I’ll never forget the words that he spoke:

When I was lost, you searched 'till you found me,
When I was deaf, you spoke 'till I heard you.
When I was trapped, you released the chains that had bound me,
I’m no stranger any longer, not since you loved me.

The evening moved into nighttime and the band that was actually hired for the wedding took over the entertainment. Jon and I danced barefoot under the stars and it was a magikal time. The countenance of the Goddess shone down upon us and all was right with the world.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Sauna Part 303

Spring made way for Summer and Jon had found he had an actual passion for gardening. What I had begun as a simple herb garden had blossomed into an enormous medieval knot garden that Jon had patterned after the one we’d seen in Scotland. He’d rented a backhoe and dug up a huge plot of earth in back of the house and completely transformed it through meticulous landscaping. I stood there smiling as I watched him maneuver the heavy machinery and I just had to laugh. It was true what they say: the only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys.

“So, whaddya think, babe?” Jon yelled, wiping the sweat from his brow.

“I think it’s part of your secret plan to keep me chained to the kitchen in order to use all the herbs we’ll be planting” I laughed.

“Hhhmmnnn, I hadn’t even thought of that angle” he grinned, rubbing his chin as he sidled up alongside me and I gave him a kiss.

“Seriously, Jon, I think it’s going to be beautiful. I’ve always wanted a real medieval knot garden. I may never leave here” I breathed, taking his hand and we strolled through the freshly dug earth that was slated to become the slate pathways through the garden.

We’d already planted the hundreds of boxwood hedges that outlined the design of the garden and Jon would lay down the slate this afternoon to form the walkways. My task now was to plant the hundred or so herbs and irish moss we’d already purchased and to determine what plants went where. The sun was already high in the sky and it was a beautiful day to play in the dirt.

We toiled side by side, surrounded by the fragrant aroma of flowering herbs and we had the bulk of the work finished by early evening. We’d worked up an appetite and decided to break for some dinner and Jon carried out plates and silverware to the deck in back of the house. I was finishing the balsamic chicken when he returned to the kitchen and began to hunt for the right wine to accompany the meal.

“Light and crisp or fruity and sweet?” he called over his shoulder.

“How about a Moselle?” I answered back, having finally learned a bit about wine with Jon as my tutor.

“Perfect” he smiled, uncorking the bottle.

We sat on the newly built deck in the back, savoring our dinner as the fading rays of the sun bathed the garden in shades of orange and red. It was quite a magnificent sight and I recalled how Victor, our mentor in Sedona, had immediately recognized Jon as an artist. His music had been his main form of expression for so many years and I wondered what other hidden talents lay beneath the surface, ready to be awakened as Jon explored other facets of himself.

“You’ve done an amazing thing here, my love. You turned your vision into reality and it’s breathtaking” I sighed, admiring his work.

“You’ve done a lot too, Trish. It’s not just my creation, it’s ours” he reminded me.

“I chose the plants, but you’ve been the architect. I have to say, though, that I’ve enjoyed working together on this masterpiece more than you know” I smiled, taking his hand.

“Me too” he agreed, raising my hand to his lips. “I think we should pay homage to the Lord and Lady for the gift of the earth and ask them to bless our garden tonight at the full moon” he said with a twinkle.

“You’re so right, love” I agreed without hesitation.

We cleaned up our dinner dishes and headed upstairs to bathe before tonight’s ritual. We were both pretty filthy and grimy, but in truth it had felt good to us both to connect with the earth and we washed off the dirt with some reverence. As tempted as I was by the sight of Jon’s naked body, I kept the lust I felt rising in check as we both knew that tonight’s union would be special as we asked the Lord and Lady to bless our endeavor.

“The gazebo should be delivered tomorrow and then we can finish the last of the planting” Jon commented as we dried each other off with the towels.

“That’ll be perfect-the ground will be ready” I said wistfully, already anticipating tonight’s consecration as I trailed my finger down the side of his cheek.

His eyes darkened with his desire and I nearly lost my resolve as I studied the full, sensuous pout of his lips. A simple kiss couldn’t hurt, I thought to myself as my lips parted involuntarily. Without hesitation, Jon drew me to him and I felt myself melt as his tongue entered my mouth. His lips were soft and he tasted of wine and spice as I allowed myself to drink from his well. His fingers twined through my damp tresses while his tongue sought a deeper place in my soul and I felt the rising surge of his passion knock at the gates of my secret garden.

“Soon” I whispered, willing myself to step back before I became deeply lost in the surge of our passion.

Jon stepped back as well, lowering his mouth to my nipple with a promise of things yet to be and I groaned with my need. He grinned, knowing he’d just made it harder to wait.

“Soon” he echoed my words with a smirk and I shook my head.

“You’re really quite evil at times” I admonished.

“That’s why you love me, babe. You love my dark side as well as the light” he countered and I didn’t argue.

We finished getting ready, donning our cloaks and gathering our supplies, but avoiding any further physical contact. We were both too close to the edge and we didn’t trust ourselves if we tempted the Fates any further. The moon had already risen and the garden was illuminated by its silvery shadow. Jon carried the wine, incense and athame and I carried the salt, chalice and candles. Our nostrils were filled with the scent of the earth as we walked barefoot towards the center of the circle.

I no longer conducted each ritual by myself as Jon had been studying and he’d learned the drill well. We removed our cloaks and took turns creating the sacred space and honoring the four corners, lighting each candle as we went round the circle and together lighting the main altar flame. When the initial activities were completed, Jon filled the chalice with wine and I raised it high towards the heavens.

“Lord and Lady, look down upon us and join us this night as we give thanks for the gifts you’ve provided” I called to the night.

“We offer thee praise and devotion and beg your blessing on this, our garden, our sacred space, which we’ve created from your abundance” Jon cried to the sky as he scattered salt in the air.

“With your blessing, may the earth and the sun nourish your offspring and may the rain bathe them with your essence …” I continued.

“…and fertilize their seeds with the gift of life” Jon finished, plunging the athame into the chalice.

I felt the sudden jolt of electricity surge through my body as the mild breeze stirred my hair and we both bowed our heads, acknowledging the presence of the Lord and his Lady. Jon removed the athame and plunged it deep into the soil and I followed his gesture by pouring a welcome libation of wine into the ground.

Jon’s hair glimmered like silver in the deepening twilight and his muscles rippled with the inpouring of power from the God. My breasts swelled with the rush of the Goddess as she filled me with her energy and we surrendered to the forces within us. Our lips met in a feverish kiss and I felt myself spiralling through time as Jon laid me down on the ground. My body rose instantly, meeting his thrust as he entered me and we enacted the union of Stag King and Maiden.
We moved to the ancient rhythms of old, our bodies fused as if only one being, as we consummated the ritual as well as our desire. Jon’s fingers dug into the soil, just as his shaft plowed my furrow, and I felt soft earth beneath me. His eyes shone with the warmth of the sun and his lips tasted like the fruit of the vine. I felt the beginning spasms stir deep within me and I clutched onto him fiercely as the strength of the wave overtook me. Jon’s primal cry rang in my ears as his seed flowed freely into my waiting depths, flooding me with his plentiful bounty. The sound of our lovemaking echoed into the night, carried on the wings of the wind, as we lay silently now in the dirt, sweating and exhausted. Jon smiled as he felt the first drops of rain splash onto his back, created to nourish the seeds we had planted.