04 September 2008

better than everything in the sky



this is not at all what you had in mind, you think. no, this simply will not do.

you spend the afternoon taking care of your sick child. you wait nervously for the high fever to go down. you prepare yourself for the worst, for projectile vomiting or maybe even febrile seizures. you think of febrile seizures because you have a penchant for the dramatic. you haven't always been this way but febrile seizures, they really could happen. naturally, this terrifies you. you don't want to think about things like febrile seizures. not today, or any day for that matter, but especially not today. you take your son's temperature every fifteen minutes, hoping the frequency of your readings will magically bring it down a degree or two. you want results, no matter how irrational the method. you exchange one cool washcloth for another, trade worried glances with your husband though clearly, he is not as worried as you are. in fact, he's perfectly calm. this annoys you. you don't want to feel annoyed with him. not now, not today but it's too late. you are officially annoyed.

finally, the mysterious fever breaks and your son bounces around the room like a giant red ball. he's a brand new person and you are so relieved. deep down, you know it's just the ibuprofen but you don't care. suddenly, you find yourself at the mall. at payless shoes, of all places. you are looking at plastic shoes with your daughter when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. there you are, dirty hair and all. you realize you haven't changed clothes in a couple of days. and you are wearing taupe. taupe. you look like someone's mother. how did this happen? then, before you even know what's happening, you're at old navy looking at socks. you stand under fluorescent lights and contemplate the impressive selection of toddler-sized socks. they're having a sale, eight pairs for ten dollars! yes or no? ezra doesn't really need eight pairs of socks (no one really does) but they're on sale and it goes against everything in you to ignore this. and so you deliberate. this is when it hits you. you are spending your 14th wedding anniversary in old navy in front of a giant wall of socks. this makes you sad.

you wonder what happened. that man you married, does he feel the same way? surely he knows this is not right. you realize that he is also looking at the giant wall of socks. he asks you about colors and sizes, he earnestly wants to help you with this decision. you do nothing but nod blankly. fourteen years ago, you stood together in a church before God and everyone. now you are standing before a large display of socks. you're not sure what happened. you don't know what you expected but you are nowhere near the quiet anniversary celebration you originally had in mind. you long for fancy food on pretty plates, for white linen tablecloths and the flicker of candles. for something, anything. but really, you are in no shape for such an evening. you are a mess. your clothes are a mess, your hair is a mess and you feel old. what you want to feel is radiant, beautiful, luminous. you want to feel like a new bride. instead, you feel old and over.

fourteen years ago today, you were married. you wore important outfits. him, a smart-looking tuxedo and you, a soft white gown, fresh flowers in your hair. late afternoon sunlight filled the sanctuary and you said meaningful things to each other, exchanged rings. there was the sweetness of a kiss. people smiled and congratulated you. people ate fluffy white cake. you were exuberant. the both of you drove through the streets of downtown atlanta in your tiny grey ford festiva, dragging aluminum cans and a rainbow of streamers behind you. he pounded on the horn while you flung your arms wildly out the window. you couldn't stop smiling, couldn't stop looking at each other, touching each other. you couldn't believe you'd done it. you got married.

you are home from the mall now and the medicine has worn off. the fever is back, higher than ever. you sit on the couch next to your child and beg him to please drink the water. fluids, you say. you need fluids. every three seconds, you offer him more cold water. you wonder if you should call the advice nurse again, you try to hide how worried you really are. you hold his head in your lap and sing funny little songs to him, songs that he loves. you know you have a long night ahead of you. you are already so tired. you want to feel sorry for yourself, you really do. you want to wallow in this. it feels so good to wallow. plus, you are really good at wallowing. you want to cry and complain because clearly, you have been wronged. you deserve more than this, so much more. you think about all the ways you would have spent your anniversary together and so you wallow a little while longer. you do this until you remember. this is what marriage is. this is why you've managed to make it this far together because deep down, both of you know. this is what marriage is. it's everyday and sometimes it's ugly and boring but also intoxicating and spectacular. it's a million different things and all at once. this thing you have is beyond words, it transcends the sock-buying, the late-night worrying, the high expectations, the disappointments, the ugly days. it's bigger, broader, brighter, deeper. what you have is true.

this has not been an easy year, you think. no, this has not been the best year. the two of you still have such a long way to go but here you both are, fourteen years later. and for that, you are thankful. for the everyday, you are thankful. for marriage, you are thankful. for him, you are so thankful.

80 comments:

  1. this post made me get goosebumps.
    you're pretty wonderful.
    happy 14th anniversary!

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  2. jennifer (dreemintrea)September 04, 2008 11:26 PM

    you are a gift, gh. your writing sumptuous and so, so lovely. happy anniversary to you both...taupe, socks and all.

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  3. It doesn't feel good in the moment but this is the good stuff. This is the stuff of life. Gosh - this is so good.
    Happy Anniversary!

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  4. This is funny, beautiful, sweet and so honest. I'm not quite two years into my marriage, and we have no kids, but I hope that in 12 years I may find myself facing the same type of life. Congratulations on your 14th anniversary!

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  5. love every time you post. i can hear your voice right next to me talking the way you do.

    happy 14th, the collection of your everydays together. that is love, my friend.

    xo

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  6. This was so beautiful.
    Thank you for writing it.
    And happy anniversary!

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  7. oh what a post!
    congrats on 14 years
    you make me cry with your from the heart honesty
    what a gift xx

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  8. I wanted to say "wow" for this post, cause I read it with my mouth open. love you,

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  9. i thank God for you every single day, lover. you are both my inspiration and secret weapon. plus many, many things that I adore. love you. so much. here's to many more.

    xoxoxo,
    the mister

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  10. i might print this. and tape it to my mirror. and read it on the hard days. thank you for that.

    and then i want to say happy anniversary. but i feel more like i ought to say real anniversary. i mean both.

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  11. so real. real is good.

    I hope ezra is better.

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  12. perhaps you touched a tender place in me, or two, but this made me cry. cry those salty tears that trinkle all the way down to your lips before you even realise they were falling.
    you've got the magic.
    happy 14

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  13. this was perfect. happy anniversary.

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  14. "it's everyday. and it's ugly sometimes and boring but also spectacular. good and bad, quiet and loud. it's a million different things all at once and probably beyond words."

    Amen, Sister!

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  15. thank you for this today.
    it was a gift and an affirmation of everything we are hoping is true about life and love and marriage and hope and sticking with things even when you are just facing a big wall of socks.

    thanks for writing this.
    it matters that you did.

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  16. Thank you for this post. From someone who is relatively at the beginning of a life-long partnership (five years), I love hearing that couples can make it. They can have lasting relationships, and even though it is not always easy, they remember what got them to this place and will hold on and grow and remain together. Happy Anniversary.

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  17. happy day lady. let's think of this as a growing year, yes?

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  18. Through all of these ups and downs, your family has such amazing love that is evident in each line your write. I hope your son feels better soon, and I hope more "ups" are coming for you guys soon.

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  19. happy anniversary!!! 14 years - wow! =)

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  20. It is all beautiful and worthwhile, especially when written so.

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  21. Parents do sacrifice a lot for their kids and families. Especially moms. I too have had those moments where I am terribly sad and unwashed and feel unloved. 14 years! Thats a blessing! You are but one lucky lady... :)
    Happy Anniversary! I hope your little one is doing better.

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  22. You are a smart, smart lady. I've been married to my saint for 43 years and you've captured very well the real beauty of a marriage. That through the good, the bad, the ugly, the boring, the wonderful, the fun and everything in between, the solid core and foundation of love, trust and comfort creates a bedrock for your life. Congratulations on 14 years.

    Ernie
    Gypsy Gold Studio

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  23. Bumps in the road make the journey memorable and valuable. Big Hug.

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  24. I have been enjoying your words and pictures for the last little bit since I found it, but this post makes me want to go back to the beginning of it and read every. single. post. to see this beautiful love and life in its ups and down, hope and growth!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and beauty!

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  25. i find you and the way you describe your life absolutely brilliant.
    so sweet, so bitter.
    happy 14 years.

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  26. that was beautiful.
    you are so wonderful.
    happy anniversary
    hope the little one gets better

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  27. this post is so beautiful. happy anniversary and I hope Ezra is feeling better.

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  28. such a beautiful, honest post. happy anniversary to you both. xo

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  29. Bless you, Andrea. Bless you both.
    Bless you all.

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  30. happy 14th anniversary... i loved your words!

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  31. Oh Andrea. Thank you for this. Thank you for sharing this, times a million.

    Happy Anniversary to you both!

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  32. Ok, you've made me cry too! Love you and hope all is well.

    Beth

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  33. thanks for making me cry again hula. lol, you are such a wonderful soul! congrats to you and your husband, and your babies too! hope you have a great weekend!

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  34. Isn't this the best and worst part of marriage - I love how you expressed it and I loved your husband's comment. Happy Anniversary.

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  35. what a beautiful testament to marriage. the power is in the everyday, and you've nailed it. i hope that you felt loved, even when you felt old, or tired, or scared, or like someone you didn't even recognize. i have a feeling that love is never in short supply around you. happy anniversary.

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  36. oh sweet andrea...
    you and ward need to celebrate in style when there are no sick kids and no sales at old navy!
    xo
    happy anniversary

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  37. Damn. I'm crying. Way to move me.
    Best to you and the mister.

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  38. i hope the fever goes down.
    i hope you get your beautiful day to celebrate fourteen years together.
    you are right; that is what every day of a marriage is. thanks for sharing these beautiful thoughts with us.

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  39. the beautiful hard won struggles of this life are the most poignant - me thinks.

    (and I have witnessed the connection of you two when you didn't know anyone was looking - what a pure pleasure :)

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  40. i stumbled across your blog and read this post and it was like i could have written it myself. While J and I have only a common law marriage, or as my in-laws call it "living in sin" it feels the same and we've been together now for 7 years this past July. Marriage is all about the highs and lows, ins and outs, and of course the "how did I get here????" feelings. It wouldn't be marriage without them. Happy anniversary!

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  41. WOW, friend. You made me laugh, you kept me hooked in your words, and at the end, my eyes welled up because you story is so real to me as well. Last Saturday, RC and I celebrated 5 years together too! I'm happy you have this beautiful and true relationship. I cannot wait to meet your lucky man one of these days...
    Happy Anniversary! xoxox

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  42. Thanks for not being afraid to talk about the ugly (and the sweet temptation to wallow). Ugly is hard, but it's part of the picture. And getting through the Ugly is so so Good.

    Happy, happy anniversary! Here's to many more.

    (And for Heaven's sake, I hope the boy is feeling better!)

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  43. Happy Anniversary to you and the Mister. I am new to your blog and am really enjoying it!

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  44. This is so beautifully written - one can see it comes from the heart. What I've learnt after 20 years is that the candlelight, the roses, the gauzy wisps of muslin and ribbons are beautiful, yes, but it is just stuff.

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  45. oh hula, we have all been there before. those of us married, with kids know how that feels. you articulated it perfectly. and that you ended all of that from a place of gratitude...it's pure inspiration.
    love to you my friend.

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  46. What a beautiful and honest post. My husband and I have only been married for 4 years, but I feel like this frequently too. The air has been let out of the balloons... I love how you said "you are home now and the medicine has worn off".
    I do love this post. Thanks for making the rest of us feel more normal!

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  47. such an inspiration. thank you for always sharing your humanity!! xo

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  48. even without a marriage... so recognizable... aren't we just... women? Powerful, strong, going on.
    :)

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  49. I really love the way you write, and your honesty. I've been married 14 years this year too, its funny how it all feels old and young at the same time. you're writing a story, you're 14 years into it.

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  50. I just discovered your blog this last week and am in love with your writing. I cannot tell you how many of your old posts I have read that I have nodded my head in agreement to because I feel like I can relate so much! This post is no exception- we just celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary this summer and I felt so much the same way. The day was pretty disappointing, we didn't get any quality alone time together...on and on. But you're right- it is all about the every day. And the everyday, even in the midst of fevers and random shopping trips is so lovely and we are so very blessed. But I still hope that you guys were able to steal a few sweet moments away together this weekend... Happy Anniversary!

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  51. I'll print this post and keep it in my pocket, so I can read it when I feel the same way, because I also feel the same way some times, even in a different continent, a different country, I feel the same even in a different language. Then I'll know I'm not alone. It's life. We all get the whole pack.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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  52. Loved reading this. My husband and I marked twelve years yesterday in much the same way. And I too am thankful for the continuity of love in the everyday.

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  53. Happy Anniversary! This was a really beautiful post.

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  54. It's noon and I'm still in my pajamas. I'm tired and uncomfortable and pregnant and reading this post has made me feel so much better. Happy anniversary. Happy everyday.

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  55. Thanks YOU! You make my heart dance! And thanks for the advise too! I sure did need a BOOST and reality check. xo xo

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  56. wow. that was so honest and beautifully written, I think everyone I know would agree with your words, we've been there, we go there, it's so real. thank you & happy 14th! I hope your son is feeling better.

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  57. brilliantly written my far flung stranger friend. if Father gave you the fever. taupe and socks just to write this piece, He knew what He was doing.

    one day we shall meet. i have officially put it on my list.

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  58. This is lovely.
    I am not sure you know the psychologist, John Gottman. He is a very respected marriage researcher from Seattle. His research has shown that it the daily, small gestures that create the happy, long term relationships. You seem to be living this. Here is a summary a few of his findings:
    _____

    Nurturing Friendship in Marriage


    Good marriages seem rare these days, but a leading marriage expert says it's not complicated—or even necessarily difficult—to make a marriage last. Friendship, says John Gottman, is at the core of a strong marriage.

    Friendship between couples means they "know each other intimately" and "are well versed in each other's likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams," Gottman says in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (published by Crown).

    Based on twenty-five years of research, The Seven Principles also says couples in good marriages "have an abiding regard for each other," express this esteem in many ways large and small, respect each other, and enjoy one another's company. Gottman has also found that the quality of a married couple's friendship is the most important predictor of satisfaction with sex, romance, and passion.

    It's Not Complicated

    Gottman believes the principles that make a marriage work are "surprisingly simple." Happily married couples aren't smarter or more beautiful than others, and they don't live in castles in the clouds where there's no conflict or negative feelings. They've simply learned to let their positive feelings about each other override their negative ones. They understand, honor, and respect each other. They know each other deeply and enjoy being together. They do little things every day to stay connected and to show each other they care. In short, they are friends.

    As simple as it sounds, happy marriages are based on a foundation of friendship.

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  59. Gorgeous! I appreciate your writing and sharing so much. It's nice to see the reality of someone I admire. Makes me realize I'm kind of unremarkable. Thanks.

    I've nominated you for the Brillante Premio award on my blog. It's not much but I really do love to visit your blog. I re-visit the guerilla art post every couple of months and it can still make me cry.

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  60. this is the stuff that keeps ya'll together for another 14 years. it sucks, it really sucks sometimes. then, it's great! really great and then comes euphoria.

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  61. This is so what marriage and real love is. Sticking together when you are bored, hot, sick, dirty, old [in body and or spirit] and just plain tired. This is it! It is also the lighter moments of popcorn shared while movie watching, little glances, shared joy in your children, building something together, working hard together. Happy 14th. I think you are a great couple.And they're right. This is the Good Stuff.

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  62. oh. so lovely...so true. we've hit 12 - but no kiddos in the mix yet. such a wonderful post. hope ezra is loads better. thank you for taking the time to email me about dancing too - i go to my first class tonight - i'll report back ;)

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  63. wow so real, so true, so honest and parts funny even. life. crazy messy boring mixed up life. this post is awesome. hope you did get to feel a little special and shiny maybe a day or two later though. and not in taupe.

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  64. hula,
    you had me laughing. you had me crying.

    you got the goods, girl.

    love, jen

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  65. Coming out of lurk-dom to thank you for such a beautifully written post. So touching, so lovely, so true.

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  66. Happy anniversary! Thank you so much for this ,it made me cry,laugh and sigh.
    I have been married 4 years and that youve totally inspired and reminded of why i said yes in the first place.
    Its full of amazing highs and some lows but even in the darkest night theres hope of light at dawn...
    What a truely beautiful post,you have a writing gift my dear.
    happy anniversary yet again.
    kisses,
    Marian

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  67. this is so good...i love the contrast of standing in front of God & then standing in front of the sock display...so brilliant & such a good visual for what our everydays are...we had our 10th anniversary this year & one of us said '10 years married' & the other one said '& 8 of them were good' & we both laughed cause it's so true & really, that's a pretty good percentage:)...happy anniversary!

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  68. girl.
    amen!
    you are so point ON!

    i have to say, that i only see you as total glamfab in my eyes. taupe or not.
    you rock so much.
    in so many ways.

    and, as kristine said, this is the stuff of life.
    this is the stuff that connects us and makes us not think there is something "wrong" with us. of course, i still think there is something wrong with me. lol

    happy anniversary of your love.
    aaaaand so glad ezra is feeling better.

    lovelovelove to you, sister. xo

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  69. My family had a particularly rough week. Thanks for this.

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  70. okay so i'm a little late to the party here, but this is amazing. and so right on. i'm not even married yet, but this year i spent my third anniversary on a day long bus trip/march to iowa in support of workers/immigrant rights at a meatpacking plant. while my sweetie was working in LA. not what i had imagined at all. but that is our life right now. the everyday, as you say. and it is still wonderful, even if it's nowhere near what we had envisioned. happy anniversary, andrea. i hope this year is wonderful and as perfect as it can be.

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  71. I cried. Thanks for your honesty and beauty. Happy anniversary!

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  72. That was beautiful. And it stopped me from doing my own wallowing. Thanks.

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  73. I love the way you get things straight - the getting mad, the silly socks on sale,the wishing it was not so, the loving that it is so. And it is inspiration to live close to the heart, married or not married. Thank you very much for writing this.

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  74. beautfully written. my dh and I had a similar moment a few years ago when we both realized at the very moment we were walking with the kids into the mall foodcourt that it was our anniversary. It snuck up on us both--which is the way you want it to go if it's going to happen at all!--and we had to laugh instead of cry. There was a time we would never have forgotten such a thing. My dh gave me a squeeze and sang a bit of "our song" to me, the one we sing when we've just seen how unromantic and disappointing real life can be: "even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you honey..."

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  75. i love you. i can't even express how much better you are at expressing what being married feels like! thank you.

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  76. I just found your blog through Ward's, via PoppyTalk. This was the most honest real gut wrenching piece. Beautiful. Happy belated 14th and many many many more. I had my 21st this year.
    Cheers
    Rita

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  77. I realize that this was written a year ago. But - I found it today. And it's JUST what I needed to read today. Today, the day that my son has sat in time out for much of the day - sometimes at hour stretches (I am not a horrible mother - I simply refuse to begin the timer until he's calm, otherwise, what's the point?). I have wanted to walk out, to give up, to give in. But I know, I have Him. And he'll come home. And everything will be okay. I just needed you to remind me of that today.

    Thank you.

    And congratulations. Beautiful. I hope you two have many more beautiful (even if they are tough!) years!

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  78. I'm so glad you put this on your list of 'best posts' or I might not have found it. Someone else commented "real is good" and I second that...it's good and it helps. Bless you for this honest and lovely piece.

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