<clears throat, approaches microphone>
<tap tap tap>
Is this thing still on?
<jumps back as ear-splitting SCREEEEEEEEEEEEE builds to a rapid crescendo>
<hurriedly unplugs mic>
<turns speaker ten degrees to the right, reconnects wires>
Hello? Test test test.
OK. We’re back.
Hi, this is Kate. Remember me?
I’d throw up the usual, tired excuses about why I haven’t had time to write lately, but frankly, those are sounding pretty lame. Maybe I should make up something fantastical, like “the dog ate my laptop.” Not that I HAVE a dog, mind you, but all of my neighbors do, so that could totally happen. They’re humongous beasts that could easily take down a moose and run away with the carcass in their mouths, dragging the antlers on the ground. A laptop would be about as significant a meal as a Communion wafer.
Or maybe something about aliens? THAT would be super cool. Once they landed, I’d totally take them over to the Mall of America and either we’d shop ’til we dropped, or they’d be so confused by the juxtaposition of an amusement park, several chapels, Hooters, Kate Spade, and giant Lego characters all under one roof that they’d immediately pull up their space wheels and make a beeline for the Galaxy Beyond. (And if MOA doesn’t chase ’em off, TV will. Just put on truTV or The Learning Channel for a day and they’ll declare our species hopeless and seek intelligent life elsewhere. And full disclosure here – I big-puffy-glitter-heart BOTH of these channels, so I suppose I’m part of the problem But where else can you sit in bed all day eating cheese popcorn and peanut butter cups in your pajamas and feel BETTER about your life choices? It’s a service to society, I tells ya, and I’m a better person for it. Or, at least, not THAT bad <gesturing towards reality trainwreck on Love at First Kiss> a person. Whatevs. When is that pizza getting here?)
OK. The truth is, I haven’t been writing, because by writing, I give my feelings words. And when I do that – once I’ve identified them with phylum, class, and species – I have to 1) acknowledge what I’m feeling and 2) attempt to deal with it.
And I don’t wanna deal with any of the feelings right now.
<stamps feet and waves fists>
I just don’t have the energy, ya know? Even though I know that I’ll feel better once I air out the mental bedsheets a bit, I’m resisting. I’d rather just pull a quilt over the whole mess and hope no one notices how badly it’s rumpled underneath.
I could blame some of this on my dad’s recent passing, but – again, being fully honest here – that was just a distraction from the shiz I REALLY need to handle. It’s not unlike a lit candle with a crack in the glass. As the candle burns, the voice in your head is nagging you:
“You know…you probably need to do something about that before it slowly drips wax all over the carpet, right? Right?!”
OK. <sigh> I’ll get to it.
“Um…Kate? Still dripping here.”
Resolutely, you grab some kerosene and a match and proceed to light the entire wall on fire. Because now, a little wax doesn’t quite matter so much, DOES IT??!
WAX THIS, MOFO.
Hey. Don’t be giving me the side-eye here. I KNOW you do this too. Think about it. $5 says you’ve got scorched curtains somewhere in that glass house of yours.
What I’ve been avoiding is a final verdict on my marriage. Specifically, the answer to “now what?”
I’ve been treading water in this relationship for a while now, kneading my arms back and forth in a sea of inertia. Generally, I can float here for days at a time: He’s kind. He takes out the trash and feeds the cats. He gives lots of hugs. He asks about my day. And he tells me all the time that he loves me and that he’ll never leave me.
So I start to relax. My head’s above water and my arms feel like they could do this all day. I can chill a bit. I take a deep breath. And then another. But then a sudden, angry wave slaps me in the face, robbing me of air. It might be a political news article. Or perhaps a TV character mentions prayer, or God, or faith…and he responds. Negatively. Cracks, criticisms, and cynical comments rush in, the roar making my ears uncomfortably full. And I sputter, gasping, as my arms cramp and my legs kick and my brain races, thinking, “dude, this is never gonna work” while I desperately look for a fallen tree or discarded, broken styrofoam cooler to cling to so I can get my bearings and find a shore to head toward.
Meanwhile, he’s chillaxin’ on a floating raft, ice-cold beer in hand, thinking everything is just dandy.
He tells me that he’s not worried about us. Sure, it’d do us some good to reconnect a bit, but he’s been down for a few weeks with the flu and bronchitis, and that hit right after my dad died, and the kids have JUST now gotten back to school and started a million activities ALL at different times and it’s my busy season at my job and his contract work’s just picked up but don’t worry, we’re fine, hon. Just give it time; we’ll get there.
I don’t know if…
I don’t know…
…if I love you anymore.
This is terrifying.
When I started this post, I was thinking that Today was The Day that I was going to park my butt in my desk chair long enough to get SOMETHING baking in the now-cold blog oven. Today, finally, I’d get back to writing and quit finding other stuff to do instead. Like…cleaning out my basement. Yeah, I even did that, and yes, there was more freaking cardboard down there:
Seriously, people, I JUST DID THIS LAST DECEMBER. Curse you, Amazon, and your two-day quasi-instant gratification. And eBay? You can shove your “Buy it Now” button deep into the darkness of your “Everything Else” category.
When I sat down (after paying some bills, cleaning the litter box, backing up my iPhone, and downloading all my pictures from 2010 to present so I could free up enough storage for the new iOS upgrade, which, by the way, allows HANDWRITTEN TEXTS, meaning that my already frequently-undecipherable messages will be taken to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL, YO)
(Let’s try this again.)
When I sat down today to write, I was cooking up a completely different post. But when I started beating the eggs and sifting the flour, I somehow ended up making peach cobbler instead of pie crust. (Neither of which actually have eggs in them. That might be part of the problem here. Maybe I was craving something more like custard.)
Anyway. I knew that I needed to get myself to making a decision on this whole mess, because having a massive life-direction sandbag of limbo swinging precariously over your head, waiting for you to decide whether (or when) to cut the rope, is no way to live.
So what did I decide to do?
For now, at least.
See, here’s the thing. I know we’ve had some serious challenges this year, what with his spiritual Shock and Awe campaign. Oh, and let’s not forget the Other Big Deal – it’s not like THAT goes away quietly just because you throw other problems into the mix.
But despite all that…he truly makes my life easier. He can lift heavy things, open stuck pickle jars, and change filter blades (or whatever the thing is you do on your car periodically. Tire ratchets? <rolls eyes and throws down Girl Card>) And he’s one of those rare males who doesn’t have to be ASKED to put the laundry away or empty the dishwasher – he does those things simply because he’s a grownup and recognizes that they need to be done.
In many ways, he’s simply a good man. And I genuinely like the guy. I really do. He’s super-smart, and witty, and can keep up with my butterfly-with-hiccups trains of thought without me needing to stop and explain, for example, why I start talking about black holes in the same sentence where I’ve outlined why most breakfast cereals are not, in fact, good for you.
He…gets me. Most of the time, anyway.
And that, along with nine years of marriage, is worth something.
Besides…I’ve been divorced. It’s exhausting. It’s like starting a bike ride at the bottom of the mountain; it’s tiring just leaving the bike in the house and staring up at the mound in front of you. Divorce is like trying to unbake a cake, meticulously and microscopically separating the batter of “ours” into the individual elements of “mine” and “yours.”
So I’m going to give this situation a valuable commodity: time. Two years, to be precise. My younger child has two years of high school left; when he graduates, I’ll have more resources – emotional energy, some financial flexibility, and some more vacation time. I won’t be tied to THIS job and THIS location. I’ll be free to stay, if I want…or free to wander and find my next adventure.
Free to choose what’s best for me.
For the first time in my life.
I’ll be free.
Just knowing that I’ll HAVE options makes things a little easier to bear.
In the meantime, I’ll do my best to work on the relationship, and we’ll see where that leads us.
For an initial effort, the hubs and I recently went on a date. Our last outing was underwhelming, but in the spirit of “trying again,” we visited the local conservatory where we got married.
(Side note: Pretty much all my kids remember about our wedding is this statue. Guess why.)
The date started out a little rough when he went to spit out his gum, and….
Yes, he did dispose of it properly. Because he’s that kind of guy.
From there, though, it was a really, really nice day.
This one had a little surprise on its back:
This one had a guest….
And speaking of guests…we spent some time in the butterfly tent.
There is no better validation that someone is watching over you than to have a butterfly rest on you for awhile…and we both got a visit:
If we can have more days like this, we’ll be OK. What relationship couldn’t benefit from a booster shot of butterflies?
I know I won’t always be so fortunate as to have an entire tent of them nearby. Normally, it takes some effort to find them. Perhaps the hubs can spend the next two years bringing them to me.
I also know that I need to work on me. I need to be open to accepting whatever life grants me as the “new normal.” Whether it’s butterflies, flowers, or thunderstorms.
It may not be what I thought I wanted, and it’s certainly not unfolding the way I planned, but it still has the potential to be something beautiful.
I just have to keep looking for it.