Don and I have been doing some premarital counseling. We have a tentative date of August of ’09 which seems a little far away but since we’ve lived together for about a year and a half, we have some, uh, communication issues to iron out. I haven’t read the book about men being from mars and women being from venus but I’m pretty sure we hang out on really different planets. Here’s what happens: we argue. don leaves the room and wants space. i go after him and want to talk. he goes to another room to find some space. i track him down and want to talk. he runs. i run after him. pretty soon it escalates into something notsopretty.
So we’re doing therapy. Our first day the counselor, Carolyn, said that she really looked forward to working with us because she could see we had a great dynamic and were very funny together. I was actually kind of stunned into silence. Rare, but true. I mean like, wow, maybe we were meant for each other after all! It hasn’t taken long at all for our communication styles to change. He REALLY works at it. Now everything that I might misconstrue as being criticism (which is basically everything) is prefaced with “honey, I love you, but…” and so my feelings are tempered even before I find out I left no toilet paper in the bathroom, a sink full of dirty dishes, and a week’s worth of unopened mail is sitting on the counter. Or whatever. It truly is usually something that mundane that makes me feel like a worthless pile of kaka.
So this past week I’ve had this horrible insecure “moment.” For me, insecurity wraps around me like a vise and doesn’t let go until some neuron finally transmits an a-okay signal for me to chill out and accept myself as I am. At least for a little while. Anyway, this week I started mourning the fact that Don doesn’t really “do” words. After our initial “courting” session was over and I moved myself and my eight-year old son and all of my emotional baggage into his world, he stopped buying flowers (okay, there WAS the dozen red roses that were on the table after he proposed to me) and really doesn’t do the card thing unless it’s mandated. Like Celebrate Bird Flu Day. I actually, and I gag to admit this, asked him earlier this week if he thought I was “pretty”. *insert stomach roiling* Don says, in his plain, matter-of-fact way that he has, “Yes. You’re pretty. There are times when you aren’t nice and then you aren’t pretty. But I wouldn’t be with you if you weren’t.” Okay then.
So I bought him a card. Sappy. Sentimental. Lovey. Mushy. I left it on his pillow and it stayed there unopened all day. Just this clean, white, crisp envelope on a brown suede throw pillow. Not like it screamed “Hey! Look at me! I’m a card meant for you to pick up and read!” or anything. He read it, I guess. Anyway, it was open the next morning. He hasn’t mentioned it. So I took to mourning some more. And then I sat down to work yesterday and got slammed upside the head with this heartbreaking “aha” moment.
Slight backtrack: when I started freelancing full-time, I had no desk on which to work. I had always worked at a computer and now I had reams of hardcopy to proofread or copy edit. I needed something wide enough to spread out at least four sheets at a time. We set up the card table but I developed a callous on my elbow and a really bad crick in my neck from bending over all day. I also worried about early onset widow’s hump. So Don set out to make me a desk. He asked me what I needed and I explained that an angle would help and that a smooth surface would be great. We talked about height requirements and colors and shelving. He spent long hours over the next couple of weeks in his dad’s shed. And then he came home with this desk.
He designed it himself. The top is made out of a white dry-erase board. It has a lip so that my papers don’t fall off, and the height is adjustable. It has steel legs and a drawer in it for the highlighters I am currently using. He installed a shelf above it so that I can put my in-box and stapler and stuff just within reach. Every time I sit down to it, I sigh in relief at having such a luxury.
And when I sat down to work yesterday, I realized something. This was my card. This was my vase of flowers. This was my “hey, I think you’re pretty.” This was his love. And you know what? I would have lost the card, the flowers would have wilted, I still never believe I’m pretty but he loves me anyway, and I’m gonna have that desk forever.