T came to visit us early last weekend. He had to be in Milwaukee for a second interview on Friday, so he came to my house to stay the evening before to cut down on travel time and the need to get up ridiculously early. He had never been here for a visit on a “regular” work/school day, and he asked a lot of questions. “Is this what you guys usually do?” “Do you want me to do that for you?” (As we all prepared our own dinners and did the evening household chores.) He seemed like an observer in his own “home” as the girls and I went about our regular routines. He observed it all with a smile. The three women in his life may not be doing things the way he would do them, but we had somehow managed to come up with a routine that worked for us. Four months apart, four months in separate homes, has changed all of us. We have all grown, and we have all found the strength to face a multitude of changes. With all of the growth and strength, we have also discovered something else. Even with all of this new-found independence sprouting up all over the place, we have learned (the hard way!) how very much we all need each other – not to do things for each other or because we can’t live without each other. We have found that our lives are BETTER when we are together.
It’s all about layers. I was OK when I was alone. (Layer one – ME) My life feels better now that the girls are here (Layer two) , but I’m still missing something. When T is here, (Layer three) that missing something is no longer missing. What is most important, and four months of living without my spouse has taught me, that I am OK when I am alone. I could do it, and I would be fine. Thankfully, I don’t have to be alone, but it feels good to know that I could do it if or when I may be faced with being alone. I am thankful to have had these four months without T. I am thankful that I can honestly say that I choose to be with T. My life is enriched by his presence in my life and by his friendship.
Don’t get me wrong. Four months apart has been HELL on our marriage. Our weekends together are not mini-honeymoons. Far from it! We rarely sleep in in the same bed. My bed in this house is a double bed, and T at 6’2″ is not comfortable with his feet and legs hanging over the end! Needless to say, both of us together tossing and turning in that tiny bed does not make for a restful night’s sleep. We have chosen to sleep apart for the duration… It’s strange to think that four months apart, and removing sex from our marriage, has made us begin to grow closer together as a couple, but it has.
As I said, T was here early last weekend. We planned to go back “home” for the Labor Day weekend. There was a festival in our little town, and we wanted to see family and friends. Earlier in the week, we had discussed going back on Friday night, but when my board president invited T and I out for dinner, we pushed our plans back to Saturday morning. This was the first time T had been around to meet any of my new friends or colleagues, and we had a great time on Friday night.
We decided to leave on Saturday morning, but no one was in too big of a hurry. We sipped our coffee on the patio and didn’t head out until late morning. I hadn’t been back home in weeks. I wandered from room to room letting the memories settle in around me. Em took off with friends, promising to return around 8:00 to hang out with the family. T and I walked up to the carnival in the park with Lola.
Lola quickly ran off with a group of friends while T and I loaded with carnival food found a spot in the picnic shelter to sit down in the shade and observe the activity around us. This was the same park we had played in as children, the same park where our parents had worked as volunteers at the pork chop dinner each year. We sat talking and remembering. So many, many memories. I remembered the year when my dad and grandpa brought me up to the park with my first bike with training wheels, now both Dad and Grandpa are gone. Where has time gone? How has an entire lifetime passed by so quickly?
T and I laughed at memories of past years. We reminisced about our childhoods, mutual friends, and our own children. Suddenly, we remembered that our little daughter was out there running around with friends. We needed to stop our little walk down memory lane and go find her.
Lola was with her three cousins and various other members of the family. T agreed to stay at the park with her while she used up her remaining tickets on carnival rides. I was glad. It had been a long week, and I was worn out. I walked back to relax for a little while alone in the quiet house.
I sat in the living room and looked around. SOOOOOO many memories! I lay on the couch soaking it all in, the scents, the creaks and tiny noises, the dust dancing in the sunlight of the old stained glass windows, the light dancing and reflecting on the old oak tree leaves. Eventually, I fell asleep. Then T was there waking me up. He had brought me a bag of cotton candy. He said, “Pam, let’s go home.” I was disoriented for a minute. Where? Where was he asking me to go? What was going on?
T wanted to go home. Home to MY home. The girls were on board. Emily was on her way home, and she was ready to go, too. My only thought was about pizza. I had wanted to get pizza from my favorite local place. T said that he would call it in. We could swing by, pick it up, and eat in the car. “Yes! Let’s do it!” I said.
We packed up drinks, paper plates, and napkins. We bought a large pizza and ate it while we drove through the night. The sunroof was open. Warm, humid, beautiful, country air streamed in. We listened to The Grand Ole Opry. It was one of those perfect moments in life. We all smiled as we ate our hometown pizza and listened to hillbilly music while the car sped through the night. T, the girls, and I all embraced who we are, who we were, and who we are becoming. We all knew, and acknowledged, that THIS NIGHT was a special moment. It was memorable and perfect. (I smile now as I think about it.)
We were home and in bed before midnight. The entire weekend still stretched out ahead of us. We were in our NEW HOME. Coming back like that, coming back early, had solidified it for all of us. We all had wanted to be back HERE….in our new home. We spent the rest of the long weekend explore and enjoying new discoveries. We went to a flea market and a festival in another town. We danced, listened to music, and tried new foods. We made memories of our own among strangers, and it was wonderful.