I was driving to work today and as the world prepares for Whitney Houston’s funeral tomorrow, radio stations have been playing her classics all week long.
“Didn’t We Almost Have It All” came on and it hit me hard.
Once for Whitney, the woman we all loved and assumed had it all because of her massive success, fame and world adoration. She was poised to rise yet again with the new movie remake of “Sparkle” to hit movie theaters in the summer.
Twice, because the song made me think of how close I was to getting married and how it didn’t work out. I lost someone I loved the closer we got to what I thought was “having it all.”
The ghost of that relationship has been popping up in the oddest of places recently.
Prior to hearing the song, I was visiting an art gallery this weekend for the last day of an exhibit I knew I had to see. I brought along a good friend and as I do with all museums and galleries, I had to go browsing in the gift shop.
I should have left well enough alone.
I was almost on my way out after not really seeing anything I wanted (and not being willing to pay the prices either) and out of the corner of my eye, I saw it.
It was a photograph.
I stopped in my tracks and stared. It was a greyish photo of the Capitol Columns which can be found on a hill in the middle of the National Arboretum– a beautiful, hidden Washington, DC gem. Acres and acres of land and trees and a lovely view of the Anacostia River.
My traveling companion wondered why this photo captured my attention.
I told him it was a beautiful place and the Capitol Columns was the must see of the whole place. The story of these amazing Corinthian columns is someone effed up when building the Capitol and once the dome was built (1864), the columns didn’t fit (built 1828). They were sent away to be stored.
It wasn’t until the 1980s did an arboretum benefactor figure out how to properly share these beautiful columns with the world and placed them there.
My friend said, “This is in DC? Sounds like a great date place.”
To which I replied, “It is, just don’t propose there.”
He looked confused.
“It’s gorgeous. That’s where I was proposed to,” I said. “We had a picnic, it was wonderful.”
I stared at the photo and wondered why such a beautiful place looked so grey and drab, when in fact on a sunny day it’s downright majestic.
I couldn’t decide if I saw it this way because of the role it played in my history, or if the photographer purposely picked a dreary day to shoot it, to make it look haunted.
“Didn’t we almost have it all?”
In retrospect, the location of my proposal was ironic.
The columns were planned to be a part of something grand, but they didn’t fit and making them fit would have been structurally impossible.
They sat and sat in storage for years and years until someone saw their beauty and recognized they shouldn’t be just hidden away. That person eventually found them a better home actually, where they would be appreciated and admired as long as they stood there.
They didn’t fit the Capitol dome, but instead they now stand boldly, with no ceiling, no walls.
It’s an odd beauty in the middle of a large meadow. They appear as if they belonged there all along, and apparently they did.
As hard as we worked on our relationship, he building the dome and I building the columns, they just didn’t fit. I wanted to serve as his foundation, always supporting him– which was totally backwards and wrong. No wonder it didn’t fit.
The Capitol dome and the columns were a grand plan together, but the fateful mistake made in its design ended up serving a greater good.
It takes someone with a creative mind to say these were a mistake for the Capitol, but these, these are a centerpiece for the arboretum.
I couldn’t see it when I was designing my new life with him, but now I know.
My columns were always meant to be a centerpiece.