(Warning: the sugary content of this piece may exceed federal guidelines)
Neither Carol nor I believe in the Heaven or Hell handed down to us by organized religion. In fact, we agreeably disagree on the idea of the existence of an Afterlife at all. Without boring you with details, let's say the core of my belief in an Afterlife is that we have perfectly reversed our ideas of “birth” and “death;” namely I believe our birth here is actually a death from our previous life, and our death on this earth is actually our birth into the next one.
In any event, I find myself unable to shake the crushing weight of the Judeo-Christian guilt trip thrust upon me by seventeen years of re-education by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Holy Cross Brothers and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). And I've long accepted the belief that suffering in this life will be rewarded in the next. Correspondingly, any sustained joy in this life must be duly punished in the next.
(Here is where the sugar content may prove intolerable for many of you.) Carol and I have known each other just six months, nine if you count the email and PM correspondence that preceded our formal meeting. Yet, we now already share a home, a car, a bank account, an extended family and semi-annual Eurail passes. Such impulsiveness on the part of two people old enough to know better has not produced the train wreck that one would expect of such a total Blind Flying Leap of Faith that describes our relationship to date. Joy and happiness have not only abounded but continue to expand like the Cosmic Big Bang but without any of the Dark Matter that expands along with it.
Of course, “it's early yet” and “time will tell” and “wait till the honeymoon is over,” and all of those other things people say when they believe two people have acted rashly. I know that's what some who know us may be thinking, because I'm still thinking it all time. And it's why I'm convinced that if all this happiness continues unabated, it will have to be paid back somehow. It's just the way I was brought up. So it's joy and happiness that's convinced me there is a Hell after all, and Carol and I are both going to it, if we don't concoct some dysfunction in our relationship and concoct it soon.
But the joy and happiness continue to abound and abide, stretching the credulity of Dante’s nine Circles of Hell. Just last night, for example, Carol and I were sitting out on our newly paved patio (2nd and 3rd Circle - the 1st Circle has to be reserved for the miracle of our meeting in the first place) and enjoying a beautiful sunset (4th). It was a cool night so we had fired up the patio heater (5th Circle), along with a cheerfully lapping fire from our chimenea (6th), and we were sharing a glass of wine (7th). And then, certain I was flying too close to the sun on wings of wax, I turned on my iPad to stream the Northwestern- Ohio State game (8th and 9th Circles). I turned to Carol awaiting Judgment Day. Instead, she said, “Can you turn up the sound, Reid, I can't hear the announcers.”
I am sure Dante is turning in his grave or on his spit trying to come up with a new Circle of Hell to balance out that one.