Over the past week or so I have collected five or six trash bags of leaves and debris from the lawn, and gotten into and then out of a huge argument with Keith that lasted about forty eight hours. The problem was that like WWII, it had more than one front and then there was the underlying war being fought behind the lines, the one over clashing principles and assumptions.
It was completely exhausting; at the end of day one my cell phone battery was completely drained and so was I. On that day our house didn't feel like my home, it felt strange and removed from me.
For years I had assumptions about commitment that were incorrect. I assumed that commitment happened naturally, that it was the natural expression of a good person. I thought of myself as a good person, and so therefore I would simply fall into commitment, in the same way that my hair grows out dark brown.
I think it was during the movie "Apollo 13" that the engineers at NASA had to frantically come up with a solution to a malfunction on the spaceship or the astronauts, floating helpless in their ship, would die. There was a scene when one engineer comes up to the others with a box, which he dumps on a table.
"This is what they have to work with," he said, or something to that effect. "We must find a solution with this."
That's what commitment feels like to me now. It means that Keith and I are bound together and we must work with what each of us brings to the table. There is no walking away, there is no throwing one's hands up in the air and saying that it's too hard or impossible, even though it might feel like that at the time.
I have heard it said, that marriage is like a mirror; it will show you things about yourself that you've never seen before. I've certainly experienced this to be true. The most amazing thing is that after everything we saw and had to face up to, we came through it together.
Not only that, but when it was over, I woke up to an e-mail from my husband thanking me for my ability to speak the truth into our relationship. I sat there, stunned. I have an incredible and amazing husband. He has the strength and honestly of a self made man.
I day dream about him coming home all the time now. The days are so deliciously long and full of light, it catches on the tangled, tawny grass of the front lawn that every day is shaded in a little greener. I feel like the sky goes on forever.
Having caught spring fever in a bad way, I spend hours outside. I drag the hose around the lawn, squatting down to undo the kinks and then leaping up out of the arc of water that is suddenly released. I sweep the debris from the white rock beds with a rapidly disintegrating straw broom and bag them up, using a pair of Keith's old gardening gloves.
We talk about the future and it feels real now, because it is no longer distant. We talk about him possibly choosing a new MOS, where we will live, what schools he might have to go to if he does change. Will we rent this house out or sell? Will we buy a new one or just a piece of land and put up a double wide out there, grow a big old vegetable garden and a couple of kids?
I don't know and all those day dreams are equally delightful simply because he will be home and we will be together and that is all that matters.
In contrast, I still remember the dismal, cloying days of winter, when it was hard to breathe and hard to move and I felt numb. It seemed at the time that it was going on forever, that I was bogged down in dark, dusty misery indefinitely. But time was passing by all along. I'll have to remember that for next time.
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