Wednesday, June 28, 2006

That New Hit Song, "Alone in my Principles"

It can be said, rather rightly, that I am a person of principle. Sometimes the result of that fact is that I get frustrated, annoyed or even livid on principle. That is, it often has less to do with a tangible thing than it does a larger issue. For example.

There is a "man" at the new "job" who is, to understate it, unaware. Of his capabilities, of his surroundings, of anything related to propriety. He has called me his "bright spot," he has murmured that I get told I look nice "probably like a thousand times a day," among other asinine compliments under his breath, and to top it all off, he has asked me out numerous times in the last few days. Just two weeks after congratulating me on my marriage. The Boy's response to all of this has been appropriate, but lately, he has become bemused.

"I'm not trying to over-intelliectualize this," he began, over verbalizing, "if you were going to hit on a married woman, which I'm not encouraging, of course. But if you were going to, why would you choose one who just returned from her honeymoon? I mean, I can see if you'd been married for seven years or something and you complained about how your husband didn't pay enough attention to you, but really? I'd say your commitment, or at least your enthusiasm, is pretty much at its peak at this point."

My rage subsided as I laughed at his Seven Year Itch theory. But he was right. Lately, my conversations disgust even me, as I deliberately litter them with "my husband" references-- I never say his name-- because I want to remind The Creep constantly that I am married. But as I told a colleague last week, when I asked him to watch out for me, marriage has very little do with it. "Even if I weren't married," I said, unnecessarily not to mention unprofessionally, "never in a million years would I even consider him. Ever."

The principle: it infuriates me that a man is capable of making me feel that uncomfortable. I shouldn't feel like I have to lower my eyes; I shouldn't try to modify what The Creep calls my "supermodel runway walk." I wear jackets all the time, even when I'm not cold. My "professionalism," or rather my prudishness, has skyrocketed since The Creep told me he "likes the way I carry myself." I'm angry. And yet, a guy like The Creep would take this as a victory. He "got" to me. I've met his kind before. I'm hoping he is not long for my world.

When these and other principles and realities have gotten me down, I have sighed, "This is good," while pointing at my chest, then poking The Boy in his, "but sometimes everything else just sucks."

"What else is there?" He has replied. And he's kind of right.

We are counting the days to our long weekend in New England. Mosotos will be passing the time at Doggie Camp in PA. Yes. We are those people.

And now, The Boy waits for me downstairs with a homemade strawberry banana daquiri. And there are much worse things than that.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Eating Crow

At a wedding a few years ago, I ran into the older sister of a good friend. I had mostly looked up to her; she had recently gotten married. I had recently endured the unfortunate Marital False Start. Not a little disillusioned, I smiled tightly and asked her, "How's married life?"

Her new, curly-haired husband behind her, she shot him a glance and muttered, "Umm, it's an adjustment," in too many Southern syllables. My face fell. I wanted her to tell me I was right before, wrong to lose faith. I wanted her to tell me it was better than she ever expected. She didn't.

I have often thought of her, and repeated that line in jest. But I haven't made fun of late, as life has been full of serious adjustments.

My husband leaves his boxers and shorts on the shelf in the bathroom where he sheds them to shower. Every day. If he wonders, he never asks how said shorts miraculously appear under his pillow each night when he needs them. Nor does he question who made our bed, though he usually exits it long after I'm out the door. These are adjustments.

But mostly the adjustments have had little do "us." I'm aware that my speech patterns have changed. I'm self conscious of the "we" and "My husband" clauses that pepper my language. Of my six inboxes, only two bear the right name. My fingers shake and pause while I decide who I am today. Credit card receipts? Old name. Benefits forms? New name. ID to go with credit card receipts? License. ID to go with work-issued badges? Passport. And so on.

I am relearning the meaning of working for the weekend. I never wanted to be the kind of person who danced for joy on Fridays. However, on the past two Fridays, I could have worn Hawaiian shirts with pride; I was so excited. The Boy felt the same. In celebration, I drank more than a beer and a half. I anticipate the trend will continue. Fortunately, it's light beer.

Saturday we walked miles of city asphalt, stopping for drinks and kebabs at street festivals, buying used cds and clothes. We cooked a heart healthy feast for Dad on Sunday to mark the most important Father's Day yet. On the way home, with the windows open (causing my not quite long enough layers to escape my ponytail and whip me in the face), I squinted and sighed. "I just need one more day," I told The Boy. There's another adjustment. The return of the Sunday night depression. I have not yet discovered a cure for that one.

This week, we look forward to the comeback of at least a little normalcy. Gyms will be visited, meals will be crafted instead of nuked. But Friday will come, bearing the promise of great seats to the sold-out Battle of the Beltway, and I will be there. Light beer in hand.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Blame it on the Rain

Nothing is the same as when I left, except for my skin color, thanks to unprecedented cloudy skies in Tahiti.

I'm married now, with the doubled rings, license, and maiden/middle name to prove it. That, I love. I love that The Boy is now my husband. I love that, despite our new shared habit of popping melatonin on restless nights, at least we are together. Our room. Our bed. These are things I've had no problem sharing. (I just wish my shoes could inhabit the space with us, but, alas, it was not meant to be in this house.)

The honeymoon was gorgeous and blissful, even if the weather was not. (The iPod and docking station, pictured above, were named Honeymoon MVPs). It was an adventure; it was romantic; we felt more together than ever. We relished being so. far. away. We vowed not to check e-mail and were never tempted to. We reminded each other we were 8,000 miles from home.

Until breakfast on Tuesday, our second morning in Bora Bora. The Boy, who fancies himself a pseudo meteorologist, predicted sunny skies by noon. He had been right on the previous day-- the only day of the entire trip when we witnessed a sunrise and sunset. We talked about our plans for the day, which included jet skiing and riding ATVs in the mountains. Jerome, the concierge, shattered the reverie, presenting me with a slip of paper with an American number. I remember the word, "urgent;" I recall the phrase, "as soon as is possible," in a stilted French lilt. I followed him to the front desk, leaving The Boy with coffee and the check. I made rambling conversation about the weather.

My hand shook as I held the phone in Jerome's office. My mother was the only one who had our emergency numbers. But she wasn't calling. If something had been wrong with her, Dad would have called-- no question.

The Boy materialized at my side, clutching my hand. My aunt talked too calmly. She mentioned Dad. Said he had "fallen ill;" something about "episodes" and "blockages." My mind couldn't keep up. I had to remind it that "fallen ill" was different than "fallen." I heard "five bypasses" and stumbled. I gasped and sobbed and shook my head. I begged my aunt to talk to The Boy, who hadn't heard a word.

On the way to our gorgeous bungalow, the sun began shining. My eyes were swollen slits and I didn't hide my tears from the other honeymooners. I remember telling The Boy, "I feel like my feet aren't even touching the ground. This can't be real, right?" He didn't respond. When we arrived in the room he spun quickly and caught me, though I hadn't even realized I was falling. We spent over $100 in international calls just to get on earlier flights. I wandered from room to room with random articles in my hands. I found myself plucking stray eyebrows in the magnifying mirror, then swearing at the phone that wasn't ringing. I cried.

We sat for ten hours in three different airports. We traveled for thirty hours, in the same clothes, no meals, no showers. Antsy and anxious, we opened all of our wedding presents when we got home. They are still scattered around the dining room. Thursday, before we visited my dad for the first time, I wrung my hands in the elevator. At my wedding, my father looked the best I can ever remember. I wasn't prepared to see the worst.

Yet again in a matter of days that felt much longer, The Boy held me up. Dad smiled weakly and asked how our trip was. Tubes and oxygen, bruises and blood crowded his bedside. I kissed his face and scratched his head. He didn't look like my dad. He was swollen, but looked smaller. I still cry for him a little part of every day.

He is healing, stabilizing. Will eventually be better than normal. Thank God for warnings and second chances, I tell everyone. And myself.

We are thankful, distracted, burdened. Heavy. Trying to create a beginning at what feels inexplicably like an end. But we are grateful for a life full of promise. Each night longing for sleep, clinging to each other.
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