On Real Marriage, Real Life

It’s a June Saturday in Indiana, and life is an amazing adventure.  Here from my newly acquired high backed padded dark wood bar stool, I am once again returned to the drafting desk that I use to write.  It is officially time to put the last twelve thousands words of the first book into print and start on the next book in the series.  As a bonus, I don’t look like an Oompa Loompa in a to-short chair typing over my head. This tall chair, as well as the antique lace dress that I bought this morning are my contributions to the June 4 statewide “Interstate 40 community sale.”

In all honesty, I just went to Goodwill for both of them as anyone who knows me will attest ~ I love central Indiana Goodwill.  It’s better than the mall.  Back to the annual state wide rummage sale.

As you drive all across state road 40, little tents and tables litter the side of the road and all the flea market areas, thick as thieves.

People swarm everywhere in the sunshine, children sell lemonade.

For those hours neighbors are from everywhere in three states and smiles abound. It’s the perfect moment for that ice cream cone.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Majestic” it was a lot like that, or those wonderful days on Knotting Hill in London when vendors set up shop in the streets.  There is this sense of oneness when you get humanity together this way, a hope that breeds deep in my stomach like a proud mom watching an iffy school play even though her kid has a minor part.  Real life. This is real life unfolding one moment at a time. It was like watching life in a movie, the people lined up for a parade, the laughter in a small town we drove through where a carousel and Farris wheel await.

I’m not done with the dream day yet, even though I have a sermon to proof for tomorrow morning and hopefully, the ability to sleep tonight. I know it’s not grown up, but I have to go back to that Farris wheel with my daughter and husband, eat a corn dog and ride the carousel.  There is no telling how many of these golden days come into our lives…I don’t want to miss anything.  I don’t want to miss out on Brian and Taryn remembering that I was there with them, or they with I.  Proof of life, I guess.  Proof of life. No matter what the hospital brings Monday morning, I was here today.

I’m listening to Phillip Wesley’s Light and Shadow, which I want to be on the screen version of the Soul Thief, and thinking about the hours in the sunshine.  I took Taryn to the pool, my little albino blond who is still afraid to jump into the water.  She’s learning not to be so timid outside the walls of the house, learning how to look people in the eye and not be so filled with that painful shyness that besets her.  I know how she feels, I really do.  She’s a little pink, even with the SPF 75 spray, but tired in a good way.  She jumped, she kicked with her floating noodle, and she did it on her own.  I was amazed at the Saturday Dad’s with their kiddos at the pool, or the single Mom’s with a couple of kiddos in tow.  It’s a dangerous assumption of course, as I was a golf widow for the day.  But there is something about the Dad’s in the pool with their little sons/daughters that remind me of Brian and our girl way back when.  I love to watch them look into their child’s eyes and say “I love you.”  It redeems it all somehow, the harshness of the news at 6, the stories that I hear as I counsel, my own heartache.  My daughter laughed across the pool and yelled “I love you Mom!”  It was one of those moments that you want to keep in your mind forever, that day when she was in the pool for the first time, gleaming white from years of being heart-careful and smiling so big that her ears were meeting the sides of her lips.

I love you.

What power there is in that sentence, you know?

I love days where my husband tries so hard that he is just…adorable.  Today, Brian has never been more adorable. He shot 36 holes of golf in his practice round today and is aching from head to toe. 40 hours from his T off, and he’s wiped. Good thing about my illness: I developed these Epsom salt hot packs for my muscle cramps to help with both the pain and the anxiety, so I will have to make some salts that don’t smell like girl (I love the whole lotion/girl perfume thing) and pack his shoulders out tonight.

I wonder….do you do that in your life? Do you know the simple joy of being there for friends, for family, for someone in need out of love?  How do you ~ without talking ~ let the people in your world know that you’re in for the count, that you are there thick or thin, honestly all in? Are you?

I wasn’t…but I am now. I finally found my way home. Oddly, it wasn’t a success, a person or a feeling.  It was there inside me all the time.  If you need this feeling, look back on the past articles about letting go. It’s about internal, personal freedom.  It’s yours, and waiting for you.  You have to let go of all the crap and know who you are.  You.  Know who you are and embrace that for all it’s worth ~ cause you are one of a kind, baby.

I was laughing about all the little ways that I try to care for my family, from the type of softener I use ~ I change it often to keep interesting ~ to the way that I clean and move things around, laying out jammies, washing peoples beds every few days….just making life comfortable.  I hope that you have that in your life, that someone adores you and is made happy in your comfort.  I love to watch Taryn sink into her feathery bed amidst a thousand stuffed animals until she looks like a little doll herself.  I love to watch Brian so distracted by some golf thing, but appreciating the life around him now more than ever before.  I love how they eat with gusto, and just expect that home made from me is better than going out.  I love that they want me with them all the time, and that we’re lonely without one another.  I love that we’re whole and well…most of the time.  Given that our marriage was falling apart to finding stable, common ground was a tough one.  How to do it?  I get asked that pretty often, but rarely talk about it. Not a great role model on marriage, me.  Hmmmm.   Hard one.

I guess if I were to say what it is that keeps he and I coming back to this central core, it’s that we were always best friends.  We keep each other up talking.  For years, before we were ever married, Brian was the person that I could be totally honest with, that I could never shake through crazy, crying, happy, holy, unsure; he was always a friend, my true north.  Not a single time has he left me in the cold like some unwanted rag doll; I’ve never spent a night feeling like the underside of a bus because of him.  Love had come to mean that to me.  It’s the men who have said “I love you” with the most conviction that have hurt me the most deeply, over, over, over and over again.  There is a difference between passion and truth.

I think that the truth is the biggest part of it.  Nothing hidden; nothing hurts. Well, lots hurts him and me along with him. It’s communicating about it in a non-confrontational way that doesn’t solicit “sides” but a feeling of common care and concern.  There is lots to talk about. We’re very different.  He’s golf and country clubs…I am NASCAR and rock concerts.  He’s vacation in the tropics, I am zip lining or climbing in someplace scary as hell.  He’s into country – I adore Linkin Park.  But we’re a lot alike, too.

He shocked me once ordering a seafood sandwich at Subway.  The thing still creeps me out.  I was all ready to order for him while he parked the car – roast beef sub, double meat, specific toppings – and he changed it. To something that I’d never seen him eat before, and I’ve eaten lunch with him constantly since 1999.  I could hardly speak.  It’s a small example; that one little thing that I didn’t know became the buzz word for “here is something new about me.”   He gets hit with changes more often than I do, mainly because of my ability to Phoenix into whatever I have been called to be.  Admittedly, oil executive to having a master’s in divinity is a big jump. I remember that bone crushingly sick moment when I had to look him right in the eye and tell him that I wasn’t the same person he married.  I’d been changed and changed myself so much that I wasn’t even sure where I began and ended.  I only knew pain in that moment.  It was a big risk, but it was the only option.  I knew that I’d never fit in the shadow of the Alison that I’d outgrown.

We’ve gotten to know one another again in the spaces and moments in between, in a whole new way.  It’s like strangers falling in love with the person they’ve always thought so highly of, but still so familiar that you can never feel afraid of the fact that you’re free falling.  But I’d rather be this and fail than be safe and silent forever and live a half life that I regret.

That’s my marriage advice.

Tell the truth.  Nothing buried alive ever dies.

Live the truth. This is life…not a test. Freedom is a gift…don’t waste it.

Be genuine. Open….the….eyes….of…your….heart.

Grow, become, and do it together.  Chaos = bad.

Don’t be all about “the kids” or “the job.”  Eventually, they grow up; hopefully you retire.  Then what?

Don’t let things fester. Talk, fight, have a naked cheese doodle throwing session.  Kiss and make up.

If you’re in over your head, say so.

Don’t let other people speak into your relationship unless you’re sure of their ability to do so. That includes a lot of pastors and psychologists who are more screwed up than you are.

It’s better to know for both of us, when I’ve done or said something stupid, especially when I have had some kind of communication with the past that haunts me, when we face a major life change, when I am battling the reality of health and not so healthy. That is the big one.  Brian deserves me being the best person I can, and visa versa.  Not because I promised when we married; because we’re here today.  The rocky ground came when we started taking  us for granted, that we’d be fine “working” on our marriage.  There was no fun, no spontaneous anything.  When you look at your marriage as “work” you’re in trouble.  It is work – but it should be stuff that you want to do.

Someone asked me today if God gives you the person that you’re supposed to marry. I have to say no.  I don’t think that God is up there pulling the strings like a puppet master.  Your life is comprised of your choices, and you don’t get to blame anyone for what you choose to do…neither do I.  I am the master of my ship, which is dedicated to Christ, but the predestined thing…no.  Are their soul twins? Yep.  Will you always marry the person that you’d love the most in the world?  No.  Does the bible really talk about this much? Not really.

I’ve read the book all the way through, listened long enough and learned enough to know that you’re largely going to have to pay attention and choose life.  That is what the man Jesus said…I set before you life, and death.  Choose life. It’s kinda evident that the choice is yours. God would like you to have joy and peace while you’re here, be truly decent to others, and not destroy the place.  Oh, yeah.  Love.  Yourself and others…specially those that are different than you.  No religion, no condemnation, no hype.  To quote Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure….”Be excellent to each other.”

That is it for me today, and probably tomorrow as well.  Monday it’s hospital time…so I guess that I will see you when I see you. 🙂

Peace and love, universe of friends.

Be good to yourself.

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