Tuesday, August 03, 2010

20 years of Small Stuff

  I am writing from the beach. Island House on Padre Island has been a summer vacation spot for my family since I was in my teens. Before that we vacationed on the other end of this Texas Gulf Coast board-walk at Holiday Inn. My parents consider this their own private heaven.

This week, my mom has regaled us with tales from her childhood in North Carolina. My dad plays his ukulele and discusses what he is reading and thinking about. Calvin alternates from watching t.v. in his room to sitting on the surf, covering us with sand..or trying to pull the sea-weed out of the ocean. Cody..triangulates..from computer, to beach, to pool..computer, beach, pool. He is like a ghost..only speaks when spoken too. Austen? Has befriended a girl from Mississippi. We only see him at meals and when he is sleeping. And Big B? Well, we left him in Bandera ..as we do many summers. I used to feel bad about this..really guilty like..but Big B is a work-a-holic. And we don't always help the situation.

I write this because we just had our 20th ANNIVERSARY. 20 years. Who would have thought?  We spent our anniversary at home. And the next day (when our schedules worked out) we went out. We did what we always do. We spent every restaurant gift card we have received in the past year.

Crab boil at Joe's Crab Shack..Southwestern Egg Rolls at Chili's. It is a tradition we started in our third year of marriage. We still do the same thing. Because..it is the small things that hold our marriage together. Isn't it for everyone? Really?

I recently read an article stating that couples with children spent an average of 91/2 hours a week in conversation without children present. REALLY..9 1/2 hours. I don't know how they do it.

Several years ago I asked Big B what I could do for him that would really make him happy. I don't know why I asked him..I wouldn't usually do such a thing. I held my breath..fearful of what he might say.

REALLY?? he askes..eyebrows raised. Hmm...let me think...and then in all seriousness Could you..you know..have a cup of coffee with me in the morning before work? ..and so our coffee traditions began. It usually lasts about 10-15 minutes a morning because Big B is always running late for work.  But it is a small thing that among many other small things..keep us connected.

  Our conversations are not that exciting. Take yesterday? Me: I made some chicken salad..it's in the fridge. Big B: Can you call the electric company?..did you say chicken salad? Me: Yup..in the fridge..we are taking the rest to the beach.  Big B: Ahh..the beach..wish I could go (then a shrug and a grin).guess I'll just have to stay here all by myself and ENJOY THE PEACE AND QUIET!! 

(This statement, by the way, being absurd since the man BLASTS the t.v. and radio when we are gone. Like the neighbors can hear him..and our neighbors aren't close!)

Me:(grin) Whatever..will you call Cody's dentist and reschedule his appointment. Big B: (grabbing his tools and stuff) Oh..yeah..you guys have fun. Love you. (kiss on forehead). Call me when you get there.
and he is out the door.

See? Not even close to 91/2 hours. I can't even imagine. I mention this to him as we are eating at Joe's.He laughs. Conversation over. Big B is much more interested in watching the waiters dance to Car Wash..and stealing the plastic crab opener that says "Stolen from Joe's Crab Shack".

I think about the things said..and unsaid. I think of how we started. He was a mechanic and semi-pro motorcycle racer. He had dreams of studying professional motorcycle racing in Santa Something, CA. I was working in a bar as a fiddle player...waiting to hear if I was accepted to the San Francisco Music Conservatory. When I was accepted..we celebrated.. a lot..apparently more than necessary....and 6 months later I was calling him in Texas from a pay-phone in Oakland, CA saying.."Guess what..I'm pregnant..just thought..you know..you might want to know."

I had no intention of marrying him. Nothing personal, I liked him..a lot..but come on..We BARELY KNEW EACH OTHER. He dared me to take a chance on him. I've never been good at turning down a good dare.

4 months later..we were married.We were living in Texas. We had a son..and partial guardianship of his/(now our) 5 year old niece.

Our neighbor brings us a glass candy dish as a wedding gift. (we eloped). I fill it with hard candy..especially cinnamon. We keep the dish full of hard-candy as an "I love you". This is small thing number 1.

A year later we were excited at discovering that we were pregnant again. In my second tri-mester we discovered that if Michael Anthony was not "removed" he and I would both die. Michael was too small to survive. We went home without him...and for the next 9 weeks Big B took 1 year old Brian-Scott to work with him..since I was not allowed to do any lifting.

Small things begin to carry more depth here...every year on December 3rd Brian gives me a hug and a flower. Last year Michael would have been 18. This is small thing number 2.

We decided we are content with our involvement/parenting with Kelly(our niece) and Brian-Scott.

Then..I discover I am pregnant again. We decide to name him Dakota James. 3 weeks before he is born we hear a prayer request for the family of a baby Dakota James who died of SIDS. We are superstitious. We change Dakota's name to Cody....

One morning, as I am feeding Kelly and Brian-Scott breakfast..while  Cody(at 3 months of age)  is screaming for about his 100th hour in a row (no kidding), Big B says..when do you see the doctor? I think your pregnant? I give him an unkind gesture above the kid's heads. No..really..he says I'm getting morning sickness again. I try to ignore him...but you know..the guy did get sicker than me in pregnancy.

Big B is right.

We decide that Austen must be the immaculate conception..because neither of us remember when this could have happened. Big B decides it is tooth-brush sharing that is causing these pregnancies. We never share a tooth-brush again.This is small thing number 3.

Our friendships with other couples change during this time. We start surrounding ourselves with friends who are family/kid friendly. More than that..who even sometimes enjoy quirky kids...and then we learn of the world of autism..we realize that one of us needs to be home full time. We draw straws. For the next 16 years Big B brings me a package of twizzlers or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups every pay-day. number 4.

.and our adult friendships become even more valued...and selective.

In 20 years..we have been  together through day-to-day life. We buried Big B's adoptive father..2 of my close friends..and his biological father. We strive to build a strong support system. We partner in the "growing" of 11 children..in some capacity or another.We safe-house another 5 families.

We have joined the world of homeschooling.  We watch our children..and the children who bless/stress our lives defy all sorts of barriers.

We know we have chosen a path less traveled...and that is okay. We have come to really appreciate those small things. The cups of coffee, the stolen restaurant utensils in an annual restaurant gift card splurge , the candies, the hugs.

This marriage is not the life we imagined when we met.. We definitely don't reach the 91/2 hour a week ideal. But we have come to treasure it..because it is ours.

Wouldn't it be great if we could make another 20?  

1 comment:

Terri Jo said...

Congrats on the 20 years thats a big accomplishment for a marrige that resulted from too much celebrating and a dare! :) God is amazing.