Last night I couldn’t sleep. It’s funny, you spend months telling someone you don’t want to share a bed with them anymore, and finally they aren’t sleeping next to you and the house is lost in an eery silence. I was mopping the floor at 2am, trying to decide what do I do with this life, and wondering if I really do want to give up and start over, and I asked myself “why did you love him in the first place?”
That’s been our trick to getting through the toughest times. Every marriage goes through those days when you’re broke and the phone is ringing over and over and it’s not the people you love calling, it’s the people who want you to squeeze blood out of turnips. Then there are the years when you don’t think you can stomach finding another boogar under the seat of your car. And then there are the arguments about whether she is old enough to be wearing make-up or if he should be doing dishes too by now and whether they can spend a weekend at your parents house and why you didn’t get to the bank on time…
What happens when all of that erases your memories of falling in love? We’ve hit that wall before, and we just took a step back and reminded ourselves of those first days in that first apartment when the lady downstairs noticed how much energy we seemed to have at night, and that moment of relection always seemed to do the trick.
Lately it’s just not enough. Last night, in the silence of the house, with my old dog snoring while I went from chore to chore, a memory hit me. I was 19 years old and I drove a little white Nissan four-door car. It was a 5 speed. I loved that. I love driving through Houston, shifting the gears on the freeway.
I was so proud of that car. It was quite the upgrade from the 1968 Dodge Aspen I had been driving- the one where if you ever let off the gas completely, it died! It was a trick to keep just enough gas pumping as you hit the brakes, so when I finally purchased my first car on my own, well, you can bet I was tinkled pink.
I drove the heck out of that little car back and forth to college and to my job at the Mall. It was the car that actually introduced my husband to me in the first place, when he stopped one day to talk to me about it. This car was my first piece of independence. I remember this day, it was a Sunday, and it was pouring rain. I was glad to be closing the store at 6, because rumor had it that the parking lot was full of water. I finally made it outside in time to see the water gushing into the drainage ditches. The pounding rain I’d heard for hours had slowed to a cold spring drizzle. I opened the door to my little car and out poured water.
I was in tears. I paid $6,244 for that car! More money than I had ever dreamed of at that point- and she was RUINED!! I had a girlfriend who had a little red Toyota, and it got wet once, and that thing smelled to high heaven! I just knew my car was going to be a stink-mobile! The tears wouldn’t stop pouring down my face as I drove back to our little apartment. I walked in the door so mad I could scream, my face all red and he just looked at me so bewildered.
I spent a few minutes sobbing about the ruined interior, and he just chuckled, which only made me more mad! But then, he grabbed me by the hand, took my keys, and drove us to the nearest car wash. He spent a couple of hours vacuuming that car and making silly sounds and funny faces at me. He didn’t stop until the car was completely dry. He even got under the seats! I was exhausted from all the crying and emotions, but he was cheerful and energetic! He said he would fix it and HE DID!
He fixed it. He salvaged my independence-mobile. He kept it from becoming a dreaded stinkbomb of mildew and mold and that night, well that night he was my hero. He saved my car, he saved me from drowning is self-pity, and he let me save my tears for another day. I’d found a knight in shining armor, or at least a strong man armed with a shop vac!
If only I could meet that man again…