We approach our gathering, and I’m enjoying the anticipation. I look forward to speaking with you all. It’s been a long couple of weeks, one of which was spent on the road in New Jersey for the Dodge Poetry Festival (anyone who has viewed Bill Moyers’ special The Language of Life knows the Dodge Festival) and then in New York for a few days. A week away has paid a toll.

First, some housekeeping:

Toby, are you ready for us to descend upon you? Anything we can do, bring, or otherwise?

J.E. and Ned, are you able to be there?

Peters, I assume you’re set to come?

And second, a few things:

I know I’ve put in for a guys-only kind of weekend. I still stand by that, but certainly don’t mean to put any of you in a strange spot–Toby especially–about this. So whatever the configuration, it will be great. Toby in particular, I know you and Steph have had a hard few weeks by now. I hope this weekend is still good for you, and I hope it’s useful the way friendship can be useful to grief.

I look forward to such candid talk. For one, I would like to hear more about our marriages and the ways each of us makes them work. Who would have thought we’d have an HM gathering and talk about our relationships, let alone our marriages? Considering that most HM gatherings centered often on our solitude, perhaps we’ve come some distance. But I guess that’s the vicinity I’d like to discuss–how do you protect your solitude and still remain a committed and loving partner? Certainly some of that conversation can and should occur here on the site–so please do respond here–but I hope we can talk openly about some of these issues. Speaking for myself, in this last year, I’ve found it very difficult to maintain the things that I used to value and still value–solitude, reading, writing, contemplation, running, certain friendships, and so on. While I realize a new balance is being struck with Jen, and one that most often seems only to improve, it’s still sometimes hard not to feel some loss. Peters brought some of this up awhile ago on an earlier post, and it would be great to continue some of that conversation and to hear from Peters on this, since he and I are at least in a similar time frame in our marriages, but also to hear from Ned, J. E., and Toby, who have had some longer time to live within their marriages.

In any case, this is on my mind, and it’s part of what I look forward to. Of course, I also look forward to tea and coffee, walking through the leaves, and catching up on all our eccentricities. Autumn has been in full force here in Minnesota for the last couple of weeks–truly exhilarating around the Mississippi, the bridges, the lakes, our neighborhood and in the parks. It will be great to come down while Kansas City will be in the throes of its autumn.

See you, in less than three weeks — Jeff