“Could you?” He starts, handing me the ridiculously large Mason jar he keeps at his bedside, an ode and a tease to my latest kitchenware obsession.
I reach for it with my right hand without looking up from my laptop. He fits it between my splayed fingers and I go fill it up.
“Spoiled,” I say over my shoulder.
“You know it,” he answers in the crinkly-eyed way that I love.
Jason just got back from six days away with his college buddy. They drank beer and ran a half marathon and drank beer and tasted delicious food and drank beer and caught up in the way that old friends do (and then drank more beer!).
I missed him while he was gone, but in an eleven years of marriage way.
When the girls were little and our marriage was young, a piece of me would go with him when he traveled. My heart would hurt because I felt un-whole without him by my side.
I’d tearily sit through early childhood classes and play dates and trips to the park. Glassy-eyed, I moved through the mundane repetition of preparing and serving and cleaning up meals and snacks and what little kids eat in between. My days were filled with library visits and diaper changes and towers of books piled so high they toppled every time someone climbed into and out of (and then back into) my lap.
I didn’t want him to go, missing him and needing his presence here -- with me, with our babies -- trumped everything else.
But this time things were different; we’re different, and so is our marriage.
I picked him up from the airport yesterday morning. My gloved hands gripped the steering wheel as I maneuvered the airport tentatively, carefully, like someone whose skill set doesn’t necessarily include airport driving unless it has to.
I slid into a spot by the curb of his gate and peeked inside the sliding doors -- neck craned, eyes wide -- hoping to catch a glimpse of my guy on the inhale, crossing my fingers that no one would tell me to move it along on the exhale.
Suddenly he was there. I missed his exit, but there he was. Eyes a bit more tired, beard a bit more full, bag a bit more rumpled, but still, here.
I stepped out of my van how mothers do -- one step at a time -- and walked toward him, taking him in. The air crisping my cheeks, but the sun brightening my view. He pressed his hand into the small of my back, his scruff against my cheek, my fingers wrapped around his neck. Our fit. Hi, you, we said at the same time.
We picked Brody up from preschool, fed him lunch, then laid down to rest.
I curled into my side of the bed that felt endlessly more right with him in his. While he was gone, the TV stayed blissfully off and I had my own teetering pile of books atop the thickest gray blanket we own; my creature comforts. But now that he was here, I sank into my bed and my rest and my him and my lids closed -- tightly.
When the girls came home, he went downstairs closing the door behind him, and let me keep resting. Because this is eleven years of marriage.
It’s missing your guy when he’s gone, but being happy knowing he’s filling up. It’s the ability to spend time apart ungrudgingly, and come back together with ease.
It’s gifts of tea and stories and sleep and jars full of water. It’s him coming home and looking the other way at the sink full of dishes and me ignoring the suitcase filled with beer mugs.
It’s picturing him scouring the beach -- post- half marathon, in jeans and sneakers, with his college buddies -- for shells to bring home to our kids.
It’s love, yes, but not the delicate kind. It’s strong and reliable, and has the kind of fit that doesn’t waver with change or time apart or separate interests or even suitcases full of beer mugs.
It’s a mutual knowing that eleven years later, a loosened grip and a drawing close can be the very same (beautiful) thing.
Galit Breen blogs at These Little Waves. On any given day you can find her juggling three children, one husband, one puggle, and one laptop.
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