That is, until one day you find yourself alone with your partner, and you discover you have nothing to say. It isn't that too-tired-to-utter-a-word kind of speechlessness that so many of us parents suffer from on a nightly basis. It isn't even the lovely wordless communication that happens between laundry-folding and dropping into bed, where the brush of my husband's hand on my arm reminds me that I am loved, and the mere pressure of his fingers is all I need to feel the thousand thoughts I know he has. Yes, we have been together for almost twenty years, now, and our relationship has certainly developed in many ways. But it has developed an emptiness, too. The speechlessness we are confronted with now is borne of loss.
Somewhere during the past fifteen years of money-earning, home-making and child-rearing, we forgot how to just be, together. I mean be, in the way we once did, silently, upon a log at the beach watching people go by, feeling the temperature of the wind shift and leaning in to each other. I mean be, in the way he used to catch my flood of words and I didn't demand an answer. I mean be, in the way that I used to have the patience to wait for his words. I mean be, in the way that time wasn't an issue, but just something trailing out the open air behind us. I mean be, like we could fly.
We got caught in the rat race and lost our wings.
This year for my birthday, my dear one gave me a night on the town. He booked tickets to a play, and a night at a B&B, and he told me we would spend as long as I wanted just hanging around my favourite neighbourhood eating whatever food I wanted and exploring the shops I don't usually visit. As we got ready to go, he held up my coat for me. Chivalry is lovely, but this gesture means more to us. When I met him nineteen years ago, he held up my coat for me to put on, and I said "how gentlemanly!" And he said "My mother said I should always help a girl into her coat." I'm not a girl anymore, and this gesture is a rarity, now, in our hectic lives as the parents of pre-teens. This gesture meant we were taking time for us.
|I said, "I'm starving but it's only four",|
and my dear one grew an I'm-so-proud-of-myself smile,
reached into his bag and pulled out snacks.
After a delicious tea service, and wandering in and out of shops all afternoon, we checked into our B&B and lay silent on the bed, together, exhausted. I felt the tickly tangle of his beard on my face and took my glasses off to nuzzle in and enjoy it. I might have fallen asleep - we had nothing to do, but be.
I can't say we were very wise in leaving our relationship for so many years untended, but we have committed to find our wings again.