Sunday, February 21, 2016

Why I Need to Tell You

We're old now. Mike's got a bad knee and I've got a few extra pounds and hypoglycemia. I don't imagine myself sleeping on the ground any more either, not even with the best inflatable lightweight mattress my money can buy. Shoot, I have trouble sleeping in my bed with four pillows and memory foam. But still they come up, those trips Mike and I took. They rattle around in my head, reminding me of how I picked Mike, or how my heart did. Sometimes I think I didn't have a thing to do with any of it. My heart just wandered after him like a lost puppy and finally he picked it up and took it home and fed it.

Twenty-eight years ago, he said on one of our early dates that he'd make a good husband. And after the first of those trips, a canoe trip, I knew he was right. He held my hair while I vomited. He paddled back in the rain across two lakes and two portages to pick up a sleeping bag, his sleeping bag, that I had left behind and he didn't even yell at me. I still work to learn that patience from him. He laid out on rocks and laughed into the night with me and watched abundant stars until he got too cold and sore from that unforgiving stone and then he kissed my forehead and went into his tent to sleep. I never did like sleeping in a tent. I've slept in a canoe, on that hard rock by the lake shore, and I've slept in a lawn chair in my bivvy sack in the rain. Mike always goes for our tent after a while. And I always feel so free and safe looking at it, usually only fifteen or twenty feet from where I was camped.

Oh, I slept in a tent with him in the middle of our adventures, when I was too in love to be more than four inches from him in the night but before I was willing to tell him the truth about needing to breathe cool air at night and get up when I needed to. I did sleep with him, sometimes with a wet, smelly dog. I did, but when I did I always shuffled from side to side on my thin mattress and woke him with my zipper in the night because I always have to get up in the night to pee. Always. Mike never complained when I woke him up.

So, I find myself trying to tell these stories to people. Have you noticed that people don't listen to stories any more? About half way through, they either interrupt you and tell you they know exactly what you mean when you know they couldn't possibly understand because you haven't had a chance to say what you mean just yet, or they start looking at their phones, probably checking how many likes their last post brought them on Instagram. So, the stories of thunder across the water, of bears in camp, of waves splashing over the bow of the canoe, of Mike heating up water just so I could wash my hair, all these stories stay wrapped up in my head and I'm still not sure why I need so badly to tell them.

There's something in these stories that I want to remind myself of when things get routine here at home, when he's under the sink asking me to hold the faucet in place while he seats the bolt, when it's not working and I accidentally open the tap and water starts dripping down into his eyes, and he still doesn't yell, not even then, and when I can stick my finger into the hole and reach the loose bit but my finger's not quite long enough to keep it in place while he seats the bolt. It's still the same with the two of us only those trips, the ones on the river, they don't read like everyone else's love stories. Oh, I know that love stories are unique to each couple and everybody has one, but how many people do you know who fell in love across fifteen or sixteen waterways in eleven different states? It's a story, dammit, and I want to tell it.

So ...

Thank you for listening, jb

No comments:

Post a Comment