Even though I’ve chosen to stay home tomorrow, I don’t like it when Mike and I are apart. It not only feels like Mike is absent, but some piece of me leaves with him. I don’t eat as well. Okay, I can actually just pig out, like eating an entire bag of corn chips supported by a tub of French onion dip. I’m apt to let dishes pile up. I’m more likely to stay in and not see my friends. It’s not depression. I really don’t think it is. Its more like we keep each other in line, bring out the best in each other.
It’s our last evening before Mike leaves for the mainland to attend H&D’s 50th anniversary this weekend. We are going to 100-Mile next weekend, so I will see many of the same people then and will certainly get my fill of socializing. Two weekends in a row is a lot for me. But fantastic, I think, for an extrovert like Mike.
My friend R, knowing Mike will be away, has offered to swing by after work and bring me back to his and Mi’s place tomorrow. Some people are visiting from the mainland and R has asked me to join them for the evening. Awesome, right? Yes, well, I thanked R and told him I’d think about it. The truth is that by not committing to an answer, I’ve left myself an opportunity to back out if I don’t feel up to it. Mike has the opposite problem: he tends to over-commit and then sometimes feels trapped by by his own stacked-up commitments.
We settle in and our evening conversation turns to the blog entry about last Sunday, June 19th at the Father’s Day beach picnic. I tell him how hard it is for me to make small talk. He confides that he also feels awkward in groups where he doesn’t know anyone. During that picnic, Mike offered to go refill a propane tank for our hosts, and was gone for about half an hour. I thought he was being his usual generous self. He says he hoped I didn’t feel like he deserted me, but he was happy to be doing something away from the group for a bit. This surprises me. Mike is just so outgoing. And he says it surprises him that I felt socially awkward at the beach. “Oh, man, it sure didn’t show,” he said.
He asks me to look at the picture he took of me at the picnic table- the same one in my June 19 journal entry. We huddle together as I bring it up on my iPad. “See,” he says. Everyone is gathered around you, you have their attention.” I study the picture and for the first time, see what he sees. “That’s exactly why I took that picture,” he says.
So strange that I didn’t notice, considering the number of times I had already looked at that photo, even using it in my journal. In social situations, everyone can feel a shy and awkward- this isn’t new concept of course. It’s a bit of a cliche, in fact. But I have to say I knew it but I didn’t really know it. What I think I am experiencing is the difference between knowing something in my mind, in theoretical, practical terms, and knowing something in my heart, with greater understanding and empathy.
Our discussion continues in a very meaningful way, and I’m thankful that after 25 years of knowing each other very well, we continue to learn and love each other even more. I don’t think there are a lot of marriages like that. We are pretty damn lucky.
Mike agrees, and we both acknowledge that it’s the writing, these little blog entries that has acted as the catalyst for our discussion tonight. So, maybe, this is an example where the selfish and solitary act of writing can result in greater connections to others.
The evening passes, and serious discussion gives way to some serious silliness and giggles. We have snacks for dinner. We hang out in the garden, playing with Buddy the dog, talking and laughing and enjoying the evening. I take a few pictures of him to capture the moment. Look at that smile. How can you not love this guy?