Monday, March 7, 2016

This Is Marriage: Day 180

Thursday night, after catching two flights, I was sitting in traffic in a rental car. I was supposed to be meeting Pete so we could spend the weekend together and celebrate his 40th birthday. But I still had at least an hour's drive to get to the hotel. My second flight had been delayed because of a broken latch on one of the overhead luggage bins. We had to wait for a mechanic to come and tape the compartment closed and put a crooked sign on it that said "Not for passenger use." Apparently only an official plane mechanic is qualified to administer tape and crooked signs. I was tired. I was hungry. I was supposed to be seeing Pete and instead all I could see was a seemingly endless line of red tail lights. My eyes started to well up with tears of frustration. Then Less Than Jake's 867 5309 (Jenny) came on the radio and I laughed and started singing along. Then I saw a sign that said "Tunnel 3 miles. Check Gas," and I laughed and wondered how many cars ran out of gas in the tunnel before someone decided a warning sign was necessary. As a kid, I remember being so excited to drive through this tunnel. Under the water! Like some kind of magic! As an adult, crawling along in traffic at barely 25mph, the "Maintain 55mph" signs seemingly mocking me, the tunnel experience was decidedly less magical. But then I thought, I literally flew through the air and drove under the water to get here, to see Pete. If that isn't magic, I don't know what is.

The traffic eased up, I made it to the hotel and finally got to see Pete. I checked into my hotel, then we walked over to where his unit had been staying. Pete showed me all his gear and had me try on his body armor to show me how heavy it was. The vest must weigh at least 50 lbs. It's not like those Kevlar vests you see the police wearing in movies. This was like trying to walk while giving someone a piggy back and someone else a piggy front (I don't even know if that's a thing. The point is, armor is seriously heavy, man. I think there is a lesson in there, something about the things you think are protecting you may really be weighing you down and holding you back). I laid down on the bed, then tried to get up and felt like a turtle stuck on its back. We were laughing as I waved my arms and legs around, trying get enough momentum to propel myself upright again.

As I was flailing about in overturned turtle pose, I realized that I'm starting to get some idea of what it's like to walk a mile in Pete's shoes/armor, but I still don't comprehend the full magnitude of what he'll be going through this year. Whenever I think about it, I am overwhelmed with sadness and also helplessness. I want to change things, to make them better. But I don't know how.

All I know is that sometimes all you can do is show up, be present. On the phone, in a card, in person. However you can. However many planes and cars it takes. However sad it is to say goodbye afterwards.

I would take any number of planes, trains and/or automobiles
to get to this big hunk

I don't think Pete realized that marrying me would mean stopping to
take photos with every single bear we ever encounter. Mwahahaha!

I have a feeling this year is going to be a lesson. In patience. In love. In gratitude. And a reminder that our time together is uncertain and never enough. This year, sure. But all the years. We don't know how much time we get. But we can make whatever time we do have count.

It probably wasn't the way Pete would have chosen to spend his 40th birthday, but at least we got to be together, talking, watching movies, exploring a trail, checking out The North Face outlet and eating all the pizza, calzones and chocolate.

Marriage is making the most of the time you have together.

Lyric of the moment: "And everything you thought you had, has gone to shit. But we've got a lot, don't ever forget that..." ~Margot And The Nuclear So And So's "Broadripple Is Burning"

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