"Somebody said they saw me swinging the world by the tail..."
(Killing the Blues, Robert Plant)
Since I was about thirteen years old, I've been walking next to this guy. Boy. Man. We are a totally ridiculous pair -- he with his flaws and I with mine. We have always been a bit full of ourselves. Dreamers sometimes more than doers. I tell my kids that I was drawn to him first when I saw a picture of him in the yearbook -- he in seventh grade, I in sixth. I gently say that it wasn't his looks (which I am totally gaga over), but his energy that attracted me to him. This aura of kicking the world in the tail that made me want to know him. To be with him. To hitch my wagon to his star.
Of course, it's never that simple. I think I had figured that out by the tenth grade, but it didn't change my mind about him. There's a seed of something buried into this man that I'd give my lifetime to help the world discover. Every once in a while, though, I forget. I forget what I see in him. What I've seen in him. It becomes too much work to see past the daily effort to look. I forget my desire to be a co-cultivator of his gifts and want him to just get there already. Get to that place that God imagines for him. To stop working beside him at the wall. I want to be a partaker of the end product without all the work.
This season of impending lay-off has exhausted our relationship. I want him to know who he is already and just get on with it so that I don't have to suffer any amount of discomfort. Get healthy. Get a plan. Get going. When you get there, let me know and I'll stop by. If I like what I see, I'll stay awhile. Maybe even forever. Just don't make me work or worry or wonder.
Not a healthy stance in any relationship, especially the sort begun with 'til death do us part.
About a month ago, we realized that we had a week of vacation unspoken for. That our two youngest children would be doing summery things away from us. That our two older children were more than competent to be home without us. That we might actually be able to get away for awhile, just the two of us. After a whole mess of figuring and searching and number-crunching we decided on a small cabin by a great river in the North Country of New York state. About seven days away for just the two of us.
I forgot what kind of clarity this can bring to a relationship. Sometimes you have to stop everything to get back in sync with the daily rhythms of the other. To remember the timbre of a voice, the flecks of color in an eye, the curve of a lash. Most certainly, to remember what life together -- dreaming together, loving together, fighting together -- looks like, sounds like, feels like. We were so out of practice, we might have gone a little overboard. But we like each other again. And that's a very good thing for the world, I promise you.
Before we left, I told my friend Tracy that we were going away to learn how to be friends again. It worked. Her two-year-old has been praying for our broken boat (or 'boo-boo', as Ella calls it) to keep working. It worked; even the day that it didn't was a good thing. Helped us to feel marvelously, deliciously furious with each other. And when you've gone any length of time feeling apathetic about a relationship, sometimes a good, old-fashioned fight is just the remedy.
The world should probably look out because now with our trusty speedboat and our hidden superpowers we're feeling a little bit like taking it on. (All we need now is a space monkey.)
Wonder Twin powers, activate!