Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Time Traveler's Wife

Sometimes, my husband forgets he's old.

Well, maybe not old, but older.  We work with a couple hundred teens each week at our church youth group, so there is a significant age difference between us and most of the people we spend our time with.  The effect varies: Sometimes being in the presence of such youthful exuberance makes me feel every day of my 41 years. I suppose it is just as reasonable for Anthony to occasionally lose track of his age.

I can relate, to a degree.  For instance, I have a lovely friend named Sarah.  Although Sarah is only 24, I love spending time with her. Once a week or so, Sarah stops by my house on her way home from work. I make us chai-cocoa lattes, she brings macaroons, and we sit in my kitchen and chat for an hour. I never forget that technically I'm old enough to be her mother (granted, in a Teen Mom kind of way); it just doesn't matter.

Me and Sarah

Anthony, however, takes bridging a generation gap to whole new level.

At church this past Sunday, Sarah introduced us to her friend, Kerry. After the nice-to-meet-you's and the handshakes, Kerry said to Anthony, "I think I've met you before. You look really familiar."  Now, this happens to Anthony a lot. Usually, he responds with "Where do you work?" or "What church do you go to?"

Not this time. This time he asked, "Oh really? Where did you go to high school?"

My eyes widened in disbelief. I already knew that Kerry graduated from high school with Sarah.

And that Sarah was BORN the year Anthony and I graduated from high school.

But he and his new friend were completely unfazed and chatted away trying to unravel the mystery.

"I went to Osbourn," she said.

"Nope, that's not it..." Anthony started.

No kidding, since she was a zygote while you were getting your senior portraits taken! How could he not hear my wife-telepathy screaming at him?

"...because I went to Osbourn Park," he finished.

Yeah. That's why.

I am not sure if they ever got the bottom of it or if Anthony noticed the crazed look on my face, because about that time another young girl from youth group came up and pulled me aside for a chat. Of course, I brought the whole ridiculous scene to his attention when we got home. He laughed, shrugging off his mistake.  

By the next day, however, my 17-again husband had slipped through a psychic wormhole and found himself squarely in middle age. 

As I've mentioned before, Monday is the day Tiffany comes over to give me a facial. Tiffany is 19. This week, Anthony joined us as we were sitting in the family room chatting and waiting for my blueberry anti-aging mask to set. Chloe, our seven year old, bounded into the room and onto his lap.

"Can I have one of those ice cream squares you bought yesterday?" she begged.

"Sure," he answered, then turned to Tiffany:  "Do you know what Klondike Bars are?"

Tiffany nodded and gave a quiet "Mm-hmm" in the affirmative.

Anthony was surprised: "You do?"

"Why wouldn't she know what Klondike Bars are?" I butted in.

"Uh, hello? Because they are old school."

"Yes, but they still make Klondike Bars," I shot back. "It's not like you bought them on eBay."

 "Good point," he conceded.

Welcome back, old man.

As much as I tease him for his age-defying antics, the truth is I love Anthony's  ability to lose himself now and again. How wonderful to look into the face of a young person and recognize a version of yourself reflected in their vivacity.  And not just as a far-off ghost, but close enough and real enough to muddle time, erasing, just for a few moments, the accumulation of years and experience that stand between the two yous.  

As I watch my husband bounce back and forth across decades, he shows me it is okay to let go of the numbers game, to look past what the mirror throws back at me daily, and to come along for the ride.  

I have made a resolution to give up my post at ground control and become a time traveler's wife--on the condition that I can bring my moisturizer.  I am not willing to give up the fight against crow's feet just yet.

Monday, April 11, 2011

No One Puts Mommy in the Corner--Except Mommy

Several months ago, I had this great idea to move our kitchen table and chairs down to our basement schoolroom. The girls would eat their breakfast and lunch on the new bar stools around the kitchen island and then we would all eat dinner every night in the dining room where a lot of expensive furniture had been re-purposed as a giant mail display/dust magnet. I put a big, comfy chair and ottoman where the table had been, next to a huge window that looks out to our backyard. Placing a tiny, well-loved (read: shabby) table next to it with my favorite lamp, I now had an ideal reading/writing/relaxing spot in the corner of my kitchen.

Like most of my "great ideas," things didn't work out exactly as I'd hoped. The girls do eat their breakfast and lunch at the island, but after about a week of eating dinner in the dining room, we all migrated back to the kitchen.  The girls eat their dinner perched on their bar stools while Anthony and I eat standing up, either holding our plates in one hand as if we're at a cocktail party (I think I remember what those are like) or else with our plates on the island, far too low, so that we are stooped over like a pair of vultures humming "Food, Glorious Food!" while we pick at our meals. The dining room table has reverted back to its former inglorious status as general junk surface and the  reading/writing/relaxing spot has slowly become the ideal landing place for purses and coats to accumulate.

But today, I'm taking back my chair.

My Favorite Corner
My husband came home from work early. It's Monday. Ballet day. Since he is not usually home from work until after we return from ballet, I asked nicely (and when he resisted, I then asked not nicely, and then in a really loud voice) if he would PLEASE take the girls to dance class so I could stay home and cook dinner.

The truth is, we're having leftovers, so "making dinner" tonight only requires as much effort as it takes to press the buttons on the microwave.  

What I really wanted was just to be alone in my house for an hour.

I wanted to sit in my chair and listen to Mumford & Sons and enjoy an hour of no one asking for anything.

Is that bad?

I adore my girls, which is a good thing since we're a homeschooling family. We are together almost constantly.  And I do mean that quite literally since Carys still sleeps in our bed (more on that another day) and none of the three of them thinks anything about kicking in the bathroom door when I'm in there or, as I have learned to keep it locked, to yell their demands under said bathroom door.  

We do miss each other and appreciate each other more when we happen to be apart for a few hours. But these little breaks while they are in ballet class or I am at Target do not hold the same weight for me as being home.  Alone.  There is something so comforting about being in my own space by myself. Yes, I know this is my family's home. But it is also my domain. It is where I am most comfortable, most myself, most free. 

I would say that, on average, I am alone in my house once a quarter. And that is quite enough, really.  But I do very much enjoy those times when they do roll around or, as it happened today, when I throw a big enough tantrum that they roll around a little earlier than expected.

So, now that they have left, I have sent myself to the corner. 

It is so quiet that I can hear both the kitchen  and family room clocks ticking out of synch, back and forth in hushed conversation. I can even hear it despite the sound of my fingers flying over the keyboard and a few birds singing outside the closed window.

In a few moments, my family will return. Anthony's key will turn the lock with a click even as Carys rings the doorbell a few times for the fun of it.  Yoshi will start barking in crazed excitement at their arrival. Bronte and Chloe will burst into my kitchen, talking over each other, telling me what new part of their recital dance they learned, or gossiping about which of their peers got scolded by Miss Leigh Anne during class.

The sounds of the clocks ticking in my family room and kitchen will be swallowed up in the din and won't be heard again for a while.  That's okay.  There's another one whose ticking rises above it all. It used to keep time regularly, but lately, it seems to be speeding up as it whispers to me--

Let them clamor. 
Let them kick in the bathroom door. 
Let the little one crawl into your bed at night.

My hour is up and I'm ready to come out of the corner. 

I think we will eat our leftovers in the dining room tonight. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Face/Off (Part Two)

A continuation of Monday's post, Face/Off (Part One)...

As Anthony and I entered the cabana for the rest of the day’s pampering, things continued to look up. After changing into plush white robes, we settled into huge rattan chairs while Lucretia and Ana washed and lightly massaged our feet in beautiful Mexican pottery bowls filled with water, scented oils, and more rose petals. This experience was simultaneously lovely and a little uncomfortable, but I beat back any unwelcome thoughts, determined to enjoy myself and relax. I threw in a few Lamaze deep-cleansing breaths for good measure.

Just as I was starting to melt into my chair and forget all about the hydrotherapy mishaps, we were directed to another steam room, this one much, much smaller than the first. And far steamier. When the door shut with a click behind us, I started taking in huge gulps of “air.”

“I don’t like this,” I said, trying to sound normal as I forced down the lump in my throat.   Anthony must have heard the edge of hysteria in my voice, because he started trying to talk me through it right away.

“Just focus on my face,” he encouraged me, in his best coach’s voice. Nice try, I scoffed silently. He had used the same line on me when I was pushing out one of his giant-headed babies two years earlier. It didn’t help then, either.

“I would if I could see it!” I snapped in his general direction. The steam was so thick that I could see nothing. It was a white out.  Only hot.  Very, very hot. 

The rest is something of a blur. It included a dry sauna in which I was sure the eucalyptus fumes were burning out the lining of my lungs. After that came a soaking tub where they plied us with champagne, helping the panic of repeated entombments recede.  The cabana’s windows offered stunning views of the Gulf, so I gazed out at the bright blue water in an effort to access some form of serenity and listened to poor Anthony try to cheer me up with jokes.

Finally, it was time for the long awaited full-body massage and facial. I had been anticipating this part all day. Actually, I’d been looking forward to this for the several months since we booked the trip. No more small spaces. No more steam. No more internal monologues of terror.

Anthony and I were on side by side tables. They started with the massage, which was, in a word, fabulous. At the end of the hour, Lucretia wrapped my body tightly until I was bound in a snug cocoon of sheets.

Oh, God. Not again. I tried to pretend it was a hug.

She placed gauzy pads over my eyes and started spreading mud over my face. It was creamy, cool, and comforting. I willed myself to focus on these pleasantries. “Oooh! This is nice!” I called over to Anthony, I hoped my voice sounded convincing. Poor guy, no doubt he was expecting a better reaction when he set this up.

“See, I told you it would be,” he agreed.

Lucretia cleared her throat to interrupt us.

“I cover you mouth?” she asked me.

“Um. Okay?”  My voice cracked.

I instantly regretted my choice as she drew a thick slathering of mud over my mouth and nose, then cleared it from my nostrils with a quick swipe of her finger.

“It’s okay, babe.” Anthony reassured me from his table. Of course.  He was smart enough to  answer “no” when Ana asked “I cover you mouth?”

I focused my energy on resisting the urge to jerk my mouth open and bust out of the mud mask I was sure was fossilizing by the second. 

How long can they possibly leave this thing on? We only paid for a four hour session and most of that must be used up by now.  And what is that noise?!

A weird, rapid sound, a cross between rushing air and snorting, filled the room.

“Babe? You okay?” Anthony didn’t sound as reassuring this time.

I was hyperventilating. The weird noise was me breathing hysterically through my nose. Between the mask and the sheet-hug, I was officially losing it.

The rushed drumming of my pulse filled my ears.  My frenetic thoughts sharpened into visions of Metallica’s “One” video as I seriously considered tapping out S.O.S in Morse Code with my head.

When it was all over, I was weak-kneed and not in a good way. I stumbled, shell-shocked, out the little hut of horrors dragging Anthony behind me, bypassed the complimentary golf cart, and sprinted to the wine bar.

My new and improved Golden Spa Experience is all the better for being at home and at the hands of a sweet friend. I am happy to relax on my own couch, my dog staring at me curiously, as I listen to the clatter of my children’s forks on their plates and answer their endless stream of comments and questions:

Bronte:  Does that hurt?

Carys:  You look crazy, Mommy!

Chloe: Can I burn my face off when I’m old?

Yes, dear daughters.  Yes, you can.

 Home, sweet, spa. Blueberry chemical peel in action.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

With Great Sadness, I Began

I usually save this page for what I hope are humorous anecdotes. But today's post is a little different. Three years ago last week, I miscarried our fourth child. I wrote the following two essays, "Small Mercies" and "A Place Called Loss" in the weeks after it happened. These were actually the first two items I ever posted to this blog. I took them down soon after: What place did loss have on a blog called The Mora the Merrier? But, I think it's okay to share them here now. 

I wrote the third essay, "The Gift," this week as I took some time for remembering.  I have told this part of the story to many people, but I had never written it down.

Small Mercies
March 29, 2008:  Last weekend, I miscarried.

This would have been my fourth child but I was as excited as I had been when I was pregnant with each of my three girls. In the face of this loss I have focused on the many things I can be grateful for: It was early. It was painless. No medical intervention required. No physical need to wait before trying to get pregnant again. I was on vacation when it happened. Yes, I meant to list that among the things to be grateful for: I was surrounded by family and busy with activity and therefore had little time to sit around and be sad. That would have to wait until later; until I got home.

Now we are back. It's the weekend again and we have stayed close to home, forgoing the usual flurry of activity to indulge in whole lot of nothing much. It's a welcome change. But with it comes the postponed sadness and the need to realign my vision with reality. The day before we left on vacation, I was in the guest room calculating how I would move the furniture to accommodate both a crib and the queen sized bed. Today, it's just a spare bedroom again. Last week, I was looking online at maternity evening gowns to wear to my sister's wedding this summer. Today, I weighed myself, made plans for the gym on Monday and had a diet shake for breakfast. Last week, the dinner conversation between my husband, my daughters and I included a lot of imaginings prefaced with "This time next year, we'll need FOUR (kid chairs at the kitchen table, swings on the swing set, etc) ." Today, I told them Mommy doesn't have a baby in her tummy anymore.  The baby had to go home to Heaven.

Although I allow myself these comparisons, I do so only briefly because in truth, I do have much to be grateful for. A great husband who is a wonderful father, three smart, gorgeous daughters who keep me laughing most of every day, a loving family and close friends to support me and who share their lives with me. And all those small mercies about the miscarriage. I can honestly say I am grateful for those.

I am sad. And I am disappointed. I do not understand, but I don't bother trying to figure it out either. These things happen. My faith is not shaken, although a few years ago it would have been. Maybe that's another thing to be grateful for:Timing. A few years ago, I would have railed that God did not care about me. I would have felt rejected and abandoned by Him. Today, I am comforted knowing that while I may not understand how this loss fits into the big picture for me and for my family, He understands. He knows. He is still in control. No, I don't believe for a moment He caused this or He took the baby away from me as some sort of lesson or, worse, retribution.

But He allowed it.

I have to accept that He allowed it in order to believe He had the power to prevent it. He allowed it for some reason and now what is left is for me to grow from the experience, to be refined by it.

I will not waste the opportunity.

A Place Called Loss
I'm coming to find out that my husband and I are worlds apart in the way we grieve. Although I am fully aware of all the ways our culture tells us that men and women are wired differently, I have always at some level, scoffed at these theories. "That's just the way men are" is a phrase that causes me to roll my eyes in disgust. To me, it's a cop out. I can accept it on the most superficial level, but when it comes to the things that matter like relational issues or crises, then no, I do not accept that. If "just the way you are" isn't adequate for the situation, they you must change (break out, step up, rise to the occasion--insert whatever cliché you are most comfortable with).

At least, that has been my theory so far. It has failed me this week.

Everything I had been trying not to feel for the past week finally caught up with me. There was a moment Friday night where my husband was exactly what I needed him to be: strong and silent. He held me while I finally bawled my eyes out, not saying a word, but just hugging me and stroking my hair. When I finally got up to go to bed,  he was worried that I was upset that he had not said anything and explained he just wanted to be there for me to let me cry. "I know. Thank you," I said. It was exactly what I needed at the time.

But by the next day, I was beyond the need for strong silence. That was grating on my nerves. It was becoming an insult. What I needed was to talk. And talk. And talk. I wanted to talk though all the things that we could be thankful for in how it played out. But I really wanted to talk about the future. I wanted to talk about "next time."

He did not want to talk about next time. He finally stated bluntly that he didn't want there to be a next time.

It was a huge blow. How could he say that to me? While I acknowledge he has the right to change his mind, his timing could not have been worse. I was dumbfounded that he could not understand that the lifeline I needed him to throw me was "Don't worry. We'll try again." Instead I felt he was pushing me underwater. Don't come up for air yet. Now you need to mourn not just the loss of this particular baby, but any future babies. My chest hurt, like I could not get enough air. If he really felt that way, why not just lie to me? Just put me off with “Let's wait a month or two before we try again.” When I'm feeling better, he could ease into the fact that he has changed his mind altogether. I would probably be angry later.  But I will be comforted now.

I can't see beyond the immediate need to stop hurting at any cost.

We tried to talk though it the next day. I explained that I thought we had agreed to have a fourth child. I didn't realize he had only agreed to a fourth pregnancy. What made it all sting worse is that I feel responsible for this miscarriage. I had taken huge doses of flax seed oil thinking I was helping the baby's neural development. When I started bleeding, I Googled "flax seed oil and bleeding in pregnancy." The result was a long list of articles warning against taking flax seed oil because of how it affects hormone levels. So, despite my doctor's assurances that this had nothing to do with the miscarriage, I am not only feeling guilty for taking the flax seed oil, now I have the added grief of knowing that was my last chance at a baby. And I destroyed it.

There was a quiet part of my mind that was telling me "Don't worry. He won't stick to this resolve. He'll change his mind again." But I could not let it go.

He tried explaining that he didn't want to risk another miscarriage, but I explained that away as irrational.

He tried saying that he didn't think I would be satisfied with four and would want a fifth. It went on and on.

I knew I was making him feel terrible by dismissing everything he said, but I could not stop myself. I didn't care if he felt terrible because I felt worse. I didn't care if I said something hurtful, because he was devastating me. Finally, we just retreated from each other for the rest of the day.

Later, after the girls went to bed, we finally started talking to each other calmly, and kindly. "Sometimes I just say things out of fear," he explained. If only he knew how much that meant to me. He was afraid. He was not impervious to this grief. He was not looking down on me for feeling so wounded. All the insistence about not wanting another baby was more about not wanting to risk more pain. Not for himself, and not for me. He wants to protect me.

He is grieving. And this is how he does it.

It could not be more evident that we handle things in completely different ways. But then again, the bottom line is that the "thing" we are handling is the common bond between us. We are both parents. We have both lost something. I have the luxury of allowing myself to crumble here and there because, well, everyone expects it anyways. Friends encourage me to let it out, let it come, walk through it, face it, sit with it awhile. And I suppose my husband expects that he must be strong for me, as if seeing him lose it will send me into some worsened state of grief that he is afraid I won't recover from completely. Or worse, that he will somehow be diminished in my eyes, or his own. In truth, I need to see that he feels something. I interpret his stoicism as indifference, his strength as uncaring, and his seemingly quick recovery from it all as relief. 

I know,  in some calm, quiet part of me that I can't quite access at the moment, that these things can't be true.  

Because that is not the man I married.

So, I have resolved to let all the words we lob at each other while we work though this land softly. I'm going to remember that we are both hurting. I'm going to remind myself that he is not from another planet; he's from the same place I am from.  

And today, that place is called Loss. 

The Gift
In my despair and anger, I forgot about the gift.   

Looking back, re-reading what I wrote in the frantic need to record my loss, it seems impossible I could have forgotten about the gift. Today, it is the main part of the story I remember. The part I share with others who feel that God has forgotten them, that their "stuff" is too insignificant for His notice.  It is the part I share with those who say they need to “get it together” before they come to Jesus, so to speak.  

I have written about the night I had my good cry. The night I wailed like a child, loudly and un-beautifully.  My husband comforted me without saying a word, smoothing my hair and rubbing my back, letting me wipe my red face and running nose on his shirt. I have told you how he apologized for his silence and how I had thanked him for that silence.   

“Do you want to talk?” he asked me.   

“No. I’m okay.  I’m going to go upstairs and work on my Bible study for a little bit, then I need to sleep.”

He retreated to the basement while I headed up to our room. 

I had been working on a Beth Moore Bible study: Jesus, the One and Only. I had started out with enthusiasm, completing my homework daily and keeping up with the dvd sessions. But I was behind now. Busy with preparations for our trip, I had put it off for a week. I had not taken it to Atlanta with us, so now I was two weeks behind. I muttered some disparaging self-assessment as I gathered up my Bible and the workbook, which now had a permanent bump in it after sitting so long with a pencil stuck in the binder to hold my place. Still blowing my nose and rubbing my eyes from the crying jag downstairs, I flipped the workbook open to the lesson I should have done two weeks before. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Beth Moore’s studies, each day’s homework always has a sort of “Daily Treasure” Scripture verse in the margin. I looked down at my page to read the verse and my breath caught in my throat: 

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” (Luke 7:13) 

This is when Jesus raised the widow's son from the dead. She had not asked him to. He had been so moved by her grief, he just acted.

What could I feel seeing these words, but gratitude?  God noticed! He cared that I was hurting. His heart went out to mine and He comforted me. His timing is always perfect, even when mine is imperfect: Had I “kept up” with my Bible study, I would have missed this gift, this perfectly planned, hidden gift, given to me at the exact moment I needed it most. 

No, my child was not resurrected like the woman’s in the story.  But my hope was. And so was my joy. Not suddenly, because part of the gift is the permission to grieve. But slowly, surely, joy returned.

The pain of loss eventually dulled until it lost its edge altogether.  

But the gift has stayed with me.  

I am like a child with her favorite possession.  I return to enjoy it over and over. I share it with friends and strangers. There are times when I misplace it, only to find it and rediscover its loveliness and the happiness it has brought me all over again.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Face/Off (Part 1)

Despite the lack of snow, or maybe because of it, this winter has been the house guest who long ago wore out his welcome. I can hardly wait to show him the way out, to cut off his rambling goodbye with a perfunctory smile while slamming the door in his face.

For weeks now, I've been feeling the urge to shed my winter skin, to force all my sweaters into exile and banish the downy mountain of winter coats to the loft. Despite the lingering chill in the air, I would gladly brave a little discomfort for a pretty pedicure and pair of peep-toe pumps. No doubt, when the full brunt of the sweltering Virginia summer hits, I'll be pining for crisp nights, fire pits, and a flurry or two.  But for now, I'm tired of fighting the dog for the random patch of sunshine that occasionally warms my office for a few hours in the afternoon.

I'm ready for full-time spring.

So, in the spirit of renewal, I am three sessions into a series of six chemical peels. After all, nothing says "spring" like spreading a layer of lactic acid over your face while you try to see how long you can stand the burn.

I kid.

I am lucky enough to have found a wonderful gal to come treat my tired face at home, so for the last few Mondays, I've raced back from taking the girls to ballet to find Tiffany waiting for me. She sets up a makeshift salon in my family room. The colors in that room are soothing and perfectly suited for relaxing: salmon-colored walls, and a deep, dark, plum sofa. Tiffany drapes the couch with crisp white sheets while I put on the Pandora "spa" station to complete the atmosphere.  Of course, instead of aromatherapy candles and a hushed tone, my spa features the scent of chicken-nuggets and an endless stream of commentary from my kids, eating dinner and observing me from the kitchen, just a few feet away.

The first week, Tiffany asked me if I had ever had a facial before. I had. Once. It was part of an elaborate spa experience. And it was such a disaster, I had never dared try it again.

In 2005, during another fit of intolerance towards winter, my husband and I set off for a week at Aventura Palace in Mexico. The resort was gorgeous, the sun was bright, and the spa menu was amazing! We decided to spring for a 4-hour, luxury, Golden Spa treatment for couples. 

We thought we would be together the entire time, but we started off separately. I was ushered into the women's hydrotherapy area, while Anthony disappeared into the men's. I really wasn't sure what was going to happen here; I was just looking forward to the massage later.

The first stop was the steam room. I felt okay going into the smallish, stone space. I could vaguely see the shape of a few other women through the swirling fog as I took a seat in the corner. The attendant looked at me and said "You be okay." Was she asking me or telling me? I'm not sure, but she must have seen something disconcerting in my eyes, because as soon as she shut the steam room door, I realized something important about myself: I'm a little claustrophobic.

Suddenly, I was not at all  happy to be in a marble tomb and breathing in thick, hot air I could see. No, I needed to get out of here and quickly. But despite the overwhelming desire to escape, my new-found claustrophobia was no match for a lifetime of determined avoidance of humiliation.  I didn't move. I sat in the corner, tried to will the attendant to come back, and stared at the door wishing I could blast it open with the force of my mind like Jean Grey.

The attendant did come back after ten minutes or so. I speak about a Dora the Explorer level of Spanish and this dear woman had an equivalent proficiency in English, so she led me to a clear glass shower stall, took my towel, and prodded me inside, gesturing for me to turn on the water as she shut the door. I was hit with a blast of icy water that shocked my hot skin and sent me, screaming, against the glass. Judging by the way my torturer averted her eyes and giggled behind the hand that had flown up to her mouth when I shrieked, this was no pretty sight.

From there, dips into three increasingly hot whirlpools reminded me, painfully, that I had severely sunburned my knees (and only my knees) the day before.  The hydrotherapy room was a bust. I tried to shake off my disappointment (and embarrassment) as I joined back up with Anthony and we were taken by golf-cart to the private cabana for the remainder of our treatments.

The little cabana sat over a clear lagoon with the bright blue Gulf waters churning just past the sea wall behind it.  It was a beautiful and perfectly serene setting.  As Anthony and I walked across a little bridge to the door, two spa attendants (and I'm not making this next part up, I swear) threw rose petals in our path.  Oh, surely this is going to be so much better than than the hydrotherapy room, I thought, as I squeezed Anthony's hand and we entered the hut...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Would You Like That A-La-Mode?

A few weeks ago, I posted the following on Facebook:

Anthony: I'm going to buy some air freshener.
Me: No crazy scents.
Anthony: 10-4!

This is what he comes back with.

The air-freshener incident happened about an hour before our daughter Bronte's birthday party, so we all had a good laugh over it and I suggested, half-joking, that his choice and my preference for French Vanilla was a metaphor for our marriage. 

But the half-joke soon took root as a whole notion.  And I didn't like it.

After about two days of struggling under the weighty symbolism embodied in that now-sinister can of Febreze, I finally voiced my concern to Anthony at the time when all wives want to get into deep analytical conversations about their marriage--around 11:30 at night.

In my usual fashion, I launched right to the heart of the matter:

"So...lately, I've had this sneaking suspicion that people think we are opposites."

I fabricated a tone of astonishment, hoping he would immediately dismiss such a notion as preposterous since clearly, we are two birds of a feather.

He, too, was incredulous, though not for the same reasons. 

"Wait. You don't?"

(Insert high-pitched, leaking balloon sound effect here).

"Um, NO! I think we are the opposite of opposites, actually!" I cried.

"Babe." (He calls me Babe. A lot. Sometimes I love it. This was not one of those times).

He then proceeded to list all the things we didn't have in common. Of course, all I heard was "I'm Brazilian Carnaval and you are Vanilla." 

Cue identity crisis.

In my twenties, I was in another relationship in which we were dubbed "the poster children for the 'opposites attract' couple." The difference?  I was Brazilian Carnaval in that one, dammit!

When Anthony and I first met, my attraction to him was based on how much we were alike, how much we had in common. Looking back, I'm not sure that was ever true. We have always referred to ourselves in opposing terms: We are Ricky and Lucy. We are wit and slapstick.  I am testing the waters. He is screaming "Cannonball!" 

And it's okay. It's more than okay. It's great.

It works.

When it comes to what matters to us--our family, our faith, our joys and sorrows, our passions, our sense of humor--we are of a kind.

As it turns out, Brazilian Carnaval includes a hint of vanilla.

From left to right, Ricky & Lucy.