Jeff's ideas about romantic love have always been a little odd. His parents divorced when he was very young, and their relationship before that was less than ideal, so he did not grow up with a great example of romantic love in the home. And his father's relationship with his next wife was not one he cared to emulate, if he could help it. For a while his mother had a boyfriend, but he never saw much of their romance. So there was a kind of vacuum there, and into it got poured a lot of the nonsense that modern society is selling: love is pure, love is patient, love is a rose, love is eternal, love is sacrifice, love is a battlefield, love is a drug, love is yours for this low low price, love is the killer app...
In high school he dreamed of a mountain. He was climbing with a bunch of other people -- scouts, perhaps -- under the guidance of one of his teachers, who was a sort of father figure for him at the time. They'd gotten about halfway up and stopped to rest at a grassy, sunny field, and while it wasn't at the actual top, there was a great view and it seemed like you could sit there forever.
"Yes, your father thought this was a good place to stop, too," said his teacher. "Then the bears got him."
So much for role models.
Jeff didn't have much to go on, but over the next twenty years -- during which he dated, married, had kids, and divorced -- he figured a few things out. Love wasn't infatuation. Love wasn't just being a good listener. Love wasn't losing yourself in the other person. Love wasn't being 'completed' by someone else. Love wasn't finding that One Special Person that would make everything perfect.
Love was something to be lived, breathed, and touched in every part of life. Love was real, powerful, and everywhere. Love was an ocean to swim in, not a stone on a gold ring. Love was a baby's laugh, the touch of an old woman's hand, oak leaves in sunlight and the eternal darkness of caves.
He'd loved his parents, he'd loved his wife, he'd loved his children... He'd loved friends and enemies, teachers, gods, and guides. After twenty years, he thought he had love pretty well figured out.
Then he met Alison, and found a whole new kind of love.
It was like discovering that your favorite book, which you've read cover to cover for twenty years, has a bunch of chapters at the back you'd never noticed before. Or realizing you've been wearing sunglasses for all your life, and taking them off, and seeing the full blaze of the sun, and all the amazing true colors of the world.
Or... climbing, at last, to the top of the mountain, and seeing the ocean for the first time.
son of Lannie
Education: holds a Masters in lexical semantics, computational linguistics, and phonology from the University of Maryland at College Park (2000). Published and presented several papers on lexical accommodation, sociolinguistics, and syntax. Druidic studies include work within the Order of the White Oak and the Ancient Order of Druids in America.
Career: after teaching and doing other odd jobs in graduate school, worked as a research linguist at AnswerLogic (a start-up in Washington DC specializing in search technology), General Dynamics in Buffalo, NY, and Nuance (the Boston-based maker of Dragon speech transcription software). Currently working for Yap, Inc., a start-up in speech technology. On the side, he also offers guided meditations, astrological readings, and similar things on his web site.
Favorite Childhood Memories: Exploring the woods by the lake at my grandparents' house in North Carolina. Going camping in the mountains. The smell of the old family farmhouse in New Hampshire. Reading, writing, drawing maps, spinning stories, and creating languages.
Favorite Adolescent Memories: Long talks with my mother about science, history, philosophy, and Zen. Playing games with my best friends. My first car, and long drives through the countryside.
Favorite Memories of Adulthood: Fascination with the exquisite structure of languages. Camping in Texas with my aunt, and in California with syntacticians. Traveling in China with my 10-month-old daughter. Meeting Alison for the first time.
Favorite Colors: The golden-green of spring leaves, the umber and ochre of desert sunsets and seasoned wood, the turquoise of mountain lakes.
Favorite Songs: Led Zeppelin's Kashmir has always been near or at the top of the list, but since my musical taste is... eclectic, I also have to list R. Carlos Nakai's Savannah Sojourn (New Age), the Bothy Band's The Maids of Michelstown (Celtic), Al Di Meola's Rhapsody of Fire (jazz), Sting's The Wild Wild Sea (rock? folk? new age?), the traditional Inca song Encuentros (Meeting), Nickel Creek's Robin and Marian (country / folk), and Bill Monroe's My Last Days on Earth (bluegrass).
Favorite Book: The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.
Favorite Road: the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Favorite Place to Hike: Sonora, AZ.
Favorite Yoga Pose: Cobbler's pose.
Favorite Book by Terry Pratchett: Tie between Interesting Times and Night Watch. And The Last Hero. ...And Masquerade.
Favorite Words: wood, stone, star.