Strange how it works, isn’t it? You can paint one room in a house and ultimately discover every other room needs to be painted. I guess the same can be said about memories. One memory generally promotes a litany of others. You then find the memories remain on the periphery of your consciousness until you give them their due.
My reference yesterday to the stately old house apartment where the General (aka – my wife) and I first lived continues to roll around in my head. I learned about the availability of the apartment from a friend I worked with at the hospital. His landlord also owned this house which had been divided into two apartments. Reference to it brought back a host of memories I haven’t thought of in years. We rented the house furnished. I guess a lot of college kids (Yes – I used that term purposefully) relied on furnished apartments. We couldn’t have purchased furniture if we wanted to. We had money for the basics, but when it came to extras, we didn’t have two thin dimes to rub together. Yet, we had everything we needed.
I can see the shape of the house clearly in the recesses of my mind. What I can’t remember is the exterior color. Initially, I remembered it being painted yellow with white trim. The more I think about it, the yellow clapboard siding turns white in my mind and the trim appears to be barn red. I’m hoping it was really yellow and white. I asked the General, but she doesn’t remember either.
However, the General did remember several things from those early months of marriage. As she started telling me, “I remember when…” I abbreviated her story by telling her, “I’ve already thought of that. It is the topic of this blog”. Just for the record, it isn’t pretty. I have a hard time believing that my maturity level could have been that stymied. After all, I was a senior in college. I should have been smarter than that.
Getting back to the apartment, I do remember the furniture. You’d recognize it too. Just go back in your memory to the kind of furniture your grandparents had during your childhood years and you’ve got it. That is how this house was furnished. We absolutely loved it. We liked antiques. Maybe it was God’s way of preparing us for this time in our lives when we look in the mirror and have the passing thought that we are really old. That doesn’t mean we don’t have value. (Sorry, I got off track, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to offer advocacy for my age group).
You’ve heard the expression, “All good things must come to an end.” What I’m about to tell you made a believer out of me. It was an “aha moment” that I’ll never forget. Apparently the General hasn’t forgotten it either. It was like a “Garden of Eden” kind of experience where perfection seemed to dissipate instantly. Nobody got banished from the garden, but it was troublesome.
In the way of background, I worked as a tech in the emergency room at Hendrick hospital. My usual hours were 3:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. I actually worked a 40-hour week and carried 16 to 18 hours a semester. I absolutely loved the job. However, the schedule was not the most conducive for newly weds adjusting to marriage.
I think it was a Friday, late afternoon, and miraculously I wasn’t working that day. I’ve always been an impromptu kind of guy and it works for me. I suggested to the General that we telephone Glen and Sharon and invite them to dinner. It would be fun to share the evening with friends.
Treva’s (I had not yet realized she was the General) response came as a complete surprise! She said, “Lets don’t do that this evening.” I guess wars are generally fought over things of more significance, but from my perspective, this was a serious breach of what I had anticipated in marriage. I guess you could say they were fighting words.
For the previous three years that I’d been at college, I lived in the dorm. I didn’t have to ask permission to do anything. If I wanted to do it, I did it. I didn’t have to get permission. Did I mention I really liked that dimension in my life? When I was living at home, I always had to ask permission.
It was without warning that the realization hit me, “I’m married”. This is what it is going to be like. I’ll face the next forever in a relationship where my impromptu plans had the potential to be thwarted. It wasn’t supposed to be this way! I wanted to run away from home.
Actually, I couldn’t run away from home. The General opted to go to the grocery store at some point. We only had one car. I was stuck at home. Did I mention my Spiritual gift is pouting? This was a very rude awakening to the delusional sense of happiness that had previously colored my world.
I’m really embarrassed to tell you what happened next. I’m embarrassed at my level of immaturity. “Yes, I think I can say that out loud. They say confession is good for the soul”. If I couldn’t run away from home, at least I could hide. She would miss me when she thought I was gone. “I’d show her a thing or two”.
At the age of twenty-one, I was a skinny kid. Why not? I had no difficulty crawling under the bed. She’d never think to look there. Actually, truth be known, she didn’t bother to look anywhere. What I didn’t count on was that I fell asleep while I was under the bed.
Apparently, a very long time later, she was not amused when I crawled out from under the bed. By then I had cooled off (amazing what a little sleep can do) and I was ready to salvage the evening.
I guess every married couple remembers the first fight as husband and wife. That was ours. Fortunately, as I’ve matured, I’ve never opted to hide under the bed again. What good does it do to hide if no one is going to look for you? The other issue that weighs (pardon the pun) into my refrain from doing so, I’m no longer a twenty-one year old skinny kid.
I know what you’re thinking. “The General is a Saint!” You’re right. She is!
All My Best!