Marriage is really hard.
Everybody deals with the hard stuff in their own way. Extracurricular activities, “extracurricular activities” (you know, the bad sad kind), knitting, sports, long walks, rigid silences, loose laughter, chocolate. Sometimes, when life is just what you hoped it would be, people are even able to be complete adults and talk things out until everything is the right shape again.
We’ve gotten to the point where we nearly always talk it out. We’re very gentle with one another - mostly, we’re very generous with one another - mostly, we’re very understanding of one another - mostly. Admittedly, our mostly doesn’t always work. When “doesn’t always work” is doing its work, I shove my laptop into my backpack and head to a coffee shop to write. Or at least sip on some chamomile while The National hums through my earbuds. Which, let’s be honest, might be more productive than actually writing.
I’m at the coffee shop now, laptop open, backpack crunched into my side. Absolutely “I Should Live in Salt” is cranking loud enough to drown out the hipster debate two chairs down. (Something about small batch marijuana. I’m definitely not joking.)
I like to think that in our weakest points we are all of us just one brush stroke away from a full-color fulfillment of complete cliche….but maybe it’s just me.
These moments used to scare me. The ones where I am happy alone. Where I can think clearly alone. Where alone seems just exactly what I’ve been missing all day, all week, all month.
I used to think these moments were maybe the crack in the foundation. Not the fight that led me here, but the fact that here - by myself, away - is where I am often led.
It’s not really fair to the man I married that I come to breathe alone before we breathe together again. I know, because he’s not like me. He’s better together - always. Angry, sad, happy, confused, fighting, loving, quiet, loud - he’d rather do it by my side. So when I leave, I’m hurting him. I know I am. But still…sometimes…I leave. It's not very gentle of me. It's not very generous of me. It's not very understanding of me.
And yet, here I am.
But I’m not scared. I haven't been for a long time.
I know it’s not kind that I sometimes leave when he needs me. He knows this too. I know I’ve got to breathe alone before I can breathe with him. He knows this too. I know tonight we’ll both say sorry and my head will lean against his shoulder while his arms cross against my back. He knows this too. I know we build more than we burst. He knows this too. I know we’ve got a few thousand more edges to break off against each other until we’re smooth. He knows this too. I know we’ve become something elemental together - something both simpler and more complex than the two of us apart. He knows this too. I know I’ll always need a backpack big enough for a laptop. He knows this too. I know I’ll never go further than the coffee shop on the corner.
He knows this too.