Looking out the window of the Pottery House Café and Deli I see my high school sweetheart loading a van with carefully packed boxes of functional and decorative pottery art. He has maintained his handsome physique, dressed casually in a white golf shirt and khaki shorts. Wearing sandals and his skin is tanned an attractive bronze, eyes concealed by dark sunglasses. My sister told me she had bumped into him a month ago in his pottery shop. Today, I hoped to become reacquainted with him. Nervously, I pay for my lunch and gravitate toward the shops in the area.
My sister helped me to elope the night of my 18th birthday. My dad followed my sister when she drove me to meet Bryce at the minister’s house. We i vows, heard my dad's angry voice demanding to be let in the house. Insisting that our be annulled, my fiancee’s adult life began without me. A week later my dad suffered a stroke and my mom, sister, and myself began the struggle to keep our farm.
Ten years fast forwarded, I felt a rush of excitement as I browsed through the shop, observing Bryce Jenkins lean over a student, encouraging her at the potter’s wheel. The whole botched annulment would never have come to light, if not for the divorce papers I received in the mail last week. My current plans to marry Shane Owens in a month, created the urgency of action. All of us thought this issue had been resolved. Apparently, there had been a snag in filing the papers and we were legally wed.
As I approached Bryce after his class of four students concluded, he met an attractive woman fully engaged in decision making mode for their upcoming wedding. I stood by the door of the pottery classroom as they dashed off to a cake and wine tasting appointment. I left a note with his cashier with my name and number. I went to check in the cabin, I had reserved and immediately called my lawyer. Dazed by the fact that we were still married after ten years. Awakened by a call the following morning, the voice cheerfully greeted me with, “Hello Sunshine", my sweetheart ‘s nickname for me. In that instant we were back in time to my 18th birthday. We agreed to meet that morning for breakfast at Flapjacks pancake house. When we were seated by a friendly server, I quickly related the situation and he looked as dazed and stunned as I did myself. We each shared how love had once again come into our lives.
“Lynda Harris , why didn’t you meet me at the bus stop? “ “Bryce, I never got your letter.” Bryce reassured me he had written me letters for months. With no response coming from me, he finally stopped writing. “Your dad was trying to protect you.” “Your dad told me he would send me, a last paycheck from him along with the annulment papers.” “I signed the papers thinking it would be the right thing to do.” Dad thought we were too young to know what was best for our lives. He did not know my heart, my future was with Bryce.
Other relationships were complicated, our relationship was not. My life involved being a caregiver for my dad. For the past ten years, I had applied myself towards earning an education in Agricultural Organic Development. Crops of corn with disease resistance and a higher yield in production were two of the main priorities of growth on our farm. Little time was spent for entertainment or relationship building, paying bills for supplies and maintenance on heavy farm machinery was time consuming. Time stood still, as dad weakened and eventually succumbed to the devastating stroke. He never fully recovered, and I couldn’t leave my mother to care for dad and the farm. My sister was five years older than myself and she helped her husband ‘s family with their bakery business.
Bryce had started living his dream by stepping off the bus in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. He found an apartment, paying the rent and food was about all his paycheck would cover. Motivated to create beautiful earthen vessels was and still is his dream. Galleries opened their doors to his artwork and evenings debuting new subjects for the viewing public. Examples of his creations brought a sense of realism to the past, present, and future.
We stared at each other as if in a trance. We knew one another so well we knew what the other was saying. We could complete each other’s sentences. We decided to give a weekend to ourselves to reflect fairly on if we had a solid foundation of a relationship. If we did have that kind of relationship, we would consider all that meant to us. If we did not have that kind of relationship, we would continue as we had until most recently, not having to communicate this to the newer loves in our lives.
Holding hands we felt connected in the same we always had. We eat heartily at an amazing Brazillian steakhouse on Friday evening. Listening to the beautiful classical music of Chopin we talked until daybreak. We were ecstatic that destiny had reunited us. In the early morning, we went to Bryce's pottery classroom. Turning the sign to closed, we kissed passionately as if by memory recall. The shop closed for the day, Bryce handed me a well used smock to wear. Until this point and time I had only encouraged him with words. Now, I would experience the sense of touch, molding clay into a definite form. I was seated at a fly wheel and threw a bowl as it is called.
Sitting there on the stool, I was introduced to a basic technique of opening and centering of the clay to begin the makings of a bowl. Miraculously, the clay bowl forms beneath the bending of your fingers. Hand building techniques, for my starting experience were: 1.) pinch- the act of pinching clay between your thumb and fingers, 2.) slab- using a rolling pin to roll out pieces to make tiles, and 3.) coil- making long rolls of clay between your fingers to construct vessels. Making coils was my favorite basic technique and I made an umbrella stand my first practice day. We laughed until we cried, free to be as imaginative and creative as we dared. Getting the right consistency of moisture within the clay compound was essential. Bryce shared stories of firing the kiln for the baking process. He let me look at magazines of glazed pieces and the marbling process. I want to try the decorative design of feathers and pinecones in the clay pots.
We watched the sunset on the balcony of Bryce’s apartment after we had showered and dressed in comfortable clothing. We shared the sadness of ten years of separation. We acknowledged that we had the maturity we lacked at 18 and 19 years of age. We were sensitive to the man and woman we would break off relationships with those, that after losing our first love we thought would be enough for a lifetime. Never settle for less than your heart, passion, and dreams for tomorrow.