Marriage, ice cream, and angels in polo shirts
Another Friday night, another girl writing a blog. Our topic tonight: marriage. Actually, marriage and synchronicity, and ice cream, and angels in polo shirts. But mostly marriage.
To begin, a poem by Wendell Berry. As you're reading, remember--synchronicity.
THEY SIT TOGETHER ON THE PORCH
They sit together on the porch, the dark
Almost fallen, the house behind them dark.
Their supper done with, they have washed and dried
The dishes--only two plates now, two glasses,
Two knives, two forks, two spoons--small work for two.
She sits with her hands folded in her lap,
At rest. He smokes his pipe. They do not speak,
And when they speak at last it is to say
What each one knows the other knows. They have
One mind between them, now, that finally
For all its knowing will not exactly know
Which one goes first through the dark doorway, bidding
Goodnight, and which sits on a while alone.
This poem is beautiful in its simplicity. Beyond all the ranting and raving, the fights, the icy stares, colder words, beyond the daydreams of old flames, hot milk men and hotter Schwan's delivery guys, this is what I hope for. The peace of knowing. The calm and assurance of just being. An old boyfriend once said (or maybe it was my husband), I know I love you because we can ride together for hours without talking and I know we're ok. Actually, it might have been my mom saying that about her trips with my dad. Anyway. Two Adirondack chairs on the porch. A sunset. A sunrise. Silence. Marriage nirvana.
OK. Now that I've waxed poetic about what might be, let's take a look at what is. What it is, man. We just this week went to a family therapist. A little for us, a little for our son. We want to be the best mommy and daddy we can be. Truly. I have to admit, the June Cleaver in me, the little bit of 50s housewife that rubbed off on me from my mom and her wonderful friends, is a little shocked to be admitting this fact on national blog-space. But, so be it. I have to tell the tale in order to tell the tale. You see, as the June in me has dictated, I've been laboring under the delusion that problems are best swept under the rug. Of course, I have a bit of 70s Cher in me. A bit of modern-day Dr. Laura, and a tad too much of Jane Fonda circa Klute (not workout Jane). So, I also find strength in action! Talking, acknowledging, recognizing, blaming, and endless, way-past our bedtime searching for solutions marital discourse. Yes. I know. Not the best strategy when dealing with a male. Thus, after years of torture on both our parts: the therapist.
Blah, blah, blah. Here comes the synchronicty. Of course, there's the poem. I just happened to get the address of a friend's poetry blog and there was the beautiful marriage poem right on top. I shared it with my husband and he said, quite sincerely, "Wow. That's cool. How about that guy at the ice cream place tonight?"
Duyt chastened and humbled by the therapist's admonition that, basically, we better get it together for the sake of the children (I'm paraphrasing, of course), we have been on rather steady ground. Daddy even suggested quite gleefully that we all line up to go out for ice cream tonight. The guy ahead of us had quite a brood of kids with him, and his total bill was something like $40, just for ice cream. Being a money-minded guy, D. felt the need to strike up a conversation. "Any more kids and you'd be broke."
To which the man replied, "Oh they're not my kids. They're my grandkids and grand nieces. Too many to count. And can you believe not a woman to help me. Just me." I thought he meant he was out for the night without help, but then he shared his story. This sun-wizened grandfather in the faded purple polo shirt had lost his wife to diabetes in 1999. They didn't even know she had it. She was his only girlfriend. Married for 37 years. "It was the funniest thing, how I asked her to marry me," he laughed. "I said, "Hey, so you wanna get married?" And her answer was funny, too. She said, "Why not, I got nothing better to do.""
"You got a good wife," he said, looking over at me, but clearly addressing my husband. "You gotta love her hard. You never know what can happen." The he walked off to join his too-many-to-count grand-family. We both looked for him as we went to sit and swing and eat ice cream with our little family, but he was gone. Gone, I suppose, like all good angels go after they've imparted their otherwordly wisdom to some very unsuspecting, but very deserving married nitwits.
Synchronicity. Ice cream. Angels in polo shirts. It doesn't get much better on a Friday night in suburbia.