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.

13 kind comments from you:

Ashley said...

This is gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

Michelle said...

Gosh, you have such a way with words. This is beautiful. I could feel every emotion you were writing.

Erin said...

Beautiful!!

Mrs. Squirrel said...

This is beautiful, heartbreaking, and sad. Having been through serious hurt with my (then) fiance when he was deployed, the thing that I truly do believed saved us was The Love Dare. Since we've been married, in order to keep us in check we started doing The Love Dare day by day as a daily devotional. Sometimes it's a big repetitive and lecture-y but I honestly do think that it refreshes our memories that behavior shouldn't be a habit, it should be a deliberate act of love. I hope your sadness leaves soon, gloomy days are the worst.

greaterexp said...

This is one of your best blog entries, but my heart aches for you. I wish I could share what I found, or that there was some magic formula, but I know I've just been blessed beyond belief. I'd like to think that everyone has it as easy as I do - never one argument in all these years, and delight to see him walk in the door every day. I pray that your marriage moves toward that place where you started, and that you have real life woven with that dream state.

vintch said...

such a beautiful, well-written post, my sweet friend. that first summer of romance is so blissful, isn't it? i know it is even more bittersweet for you looking back. i pray this summer brings you the same happiness. the same joy. because you deserve it, dear. you and sky and millie deserve all the happiness life can bring. xoxo

Chantal said...

This is a beautiful post. Relationships change over the years. I know we find ourselves looking back to freer days, when jobs and babies and responsibilities didn't get in the way.

Fran said...

I think this has been one of the hardest lessons of marriage so far for me, it broke me a little. The fact that it's not always rainbows and butterflies, that a steady warm fire is better than a high flame in the long run.
Don't get me wrong, I love the butterflies and the high flame every once in a while, however, high flames come in and out fast, while steady fires last a long time.

Hope you get some high flames and butterflies this summer though <3

Sarah said...

Our honeymoon barely even lasted through the actual honeymoon. There have been times of joy and contentment, and then, more memorably, times of anger and apathetic frustration. Many times the cycles made our marriage seem preposterous. We're almost 8 years into this thing called marriage and now, finally, feel like we've hit our stride, like there will be more things to iron out, but we're really coming into what it means to be a union. Most couples reach this point between 8-12 years. Gotta go through a lot of crap first, but as long as you can both say "I wanna be better for you," you will make it there and beyond. I'm speaking to myself as much as to anyone else--gotta learn what I need to know by writing it. :) Love this post, your writing, and your heart.

beka said...

such a beautiful piece of writing, erika.

and hmmm, this makes me thoughtful.
there are so many different seasons and times in life....

The New Normal said...

Such a beautiful post. I agree with everything Sarah said above...after 10 years we've finally hit our stride. We understand each other and we really went through a lot of crap to get here. There were many times when I never thought we would. Those first years of marriage, you want the honeymoon to last forever, and there are days when I wish we could go back to the first days. But I wouldn't trade what we have right now to relive the honeymoon because what we worked so hard for is sweet. It's ours. We made it here together. We crashed and burned many times but we picked up the pieces and we did it together. It seems odd to day, but I love the mundane and the quiet things because those are the slower moments when we really seem to connect. It takes time, but it's so worth the ride.
As always, your words have brought back so many memories for me :) And now I look back on them fondly as they are the bumps in the road we took to get here. Thank you :)
(Sorry this comment was so long!)

Amanda said...

You painted a picture that seems so familiar.. a summer spent glued to the laptop.. although for me it was more like a year, and he was just in Maryland, not another country.. (and luckily the A/C was working.. cause I'm not a happy camper without it) I wouldn't say that it has all changed since then, but the spark has faded just a smidge, and it is something not always easy to accept. I'll be sending you thoughts girl!

ginanorma said...

You are a WRITER at heart and this could be submitted to a mag! I heart it so so much. Such an endearing way to look back and the sweet sound of early love is so beautiful. You are right it can fade and it does indeed fade but it can be kept too I think, but then AGAPE love kicks in, and that's real life anyway...so glad you shared this with us, it was bookmarked for me to read, sorry it took so long for me to get to!

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