April 3, 2012
The Heat, The Summer, and Him
It was as simple as listening to a song. One song, from just a few years ago, and I was transported back in time.
The bedroom of my apartment in the old house in the old neighborhood was sweltering. I sat Indian style on the bed and felt the backs of my knees getting clammy instantly. I wondered how the ancient, flowered wallpaper wasn't peeling from the walls. It was a hot, sticky summer that only seemed to cool when the world was still for a few hours. It was the only time my heart seemed to slow its beating, too.
I ran everywhere in that apartment. I took the steep stairs two and three at a time to get in the door after work. When I needed to take a shower, I dashed down the hall. And when it was time to grab something quick like a peanut butter and jelly, I impatiently squished the pieces of bread together and slid across the wooden floors back into my room where the air conditioner sputtered in vain. All this just for a boy.
Because he wasn't like the other boy I'd met a few months before- the one who I would drag myself out of a warm bed for just to sit at a diner together. We'd eat pancakes at 10 o'clock at night, talking only about his life while a late Amtrak train thundered by and drowned out my own opinions and thoughts and passions. And he wasn't like the one before that, who wanted my input on his kitchen colors- the one who seemed to picture his whole future with me but never imagined I'd have different feelings about it.
This boy was different. I would see his name pop up on my computer and feel my breath catch. And once in a while, I'd even see his face from millions of miles away. We would wave at each other and smile as if it were normal to talk to someone through static and fuzzy pictures. He would pull back the curtain and show me how my night was his day. I would pretend I didn't hear the explosions in the background. Once, we talked about the spider that stalked me in my room for nearly an hour before I had the courage to kill it. Sometimes the internet got too choppy on his end, so he would type responses and I would talk into an empty screen, still nervous.
I was consumed with his homecoming. Consumed. I daydreamed about it at my desk at work, trying to feign interest when I'd have to answer the phone . I sighed about it to an empty apartment. I worried about it with every news story, letting the tears fall more than once. And I dreamt of it often, feeling heartbroken when I awoke and realized it hadn't happened. But he did come home, safely, at the end of that summer, and so did my brother who was there with him. I thought my world was complete.
It's been just over three years that we've been together. We've been married two. I imagined we'd still be plunged into the newlywed phase at this point- that the constant hand-holding would still be constant, or that those 2 AM talks in bed over dishes of ice cream would still be happening. They aren't.
I don't know if fighting is like a Pandora's box, and once it's opened, it's there, or if the hurts created earlier ran deep enough to ingrain behaviors in us we still carry. But whichever it is, we fight- probably like everyone else. And sometimes worse than fighting, we sometimes get into a frustrated apathy. Our schedules often differ, sometimes purposefully, to the point where we often aren't waking or sleeping at the same times.
It's hard to accept that honeymoons do fade- and yet, they always do, and it's good, because real life happens after they do. Real life is what most our lives are made of, anyway- the quieter, more mundane things that glue us together much better than a honeymoon to a pretty island or a grand wedding with a thousand quests. I know we can make it to death do us part.
Yet I miss it. Even with him across the world and the sun that penetrated my bones, it was the most magical summer. I want that summer again, heat and all. And I hope that this summer is full of real life and quiet things- but that a bit of that magic seeps through the cracks.