Yesterday, I plunked myself down amidst the muddle and mess of our renovations to have a cup of tea and a short read. I was struck by a scene in Olive Kitteridge where Olive's son, Christopher, gets married to a woman he's known for only six weeks. During the ceremony, Olive feels a sense of disquiet, of fear for her son. Of course she wants him to find happiness, to not be lonely, but still, she's wary of her new daughter-in-law, and worries "at the way the bride was smiling up at Christopher, as though she actually knew him. Because did she know what he looked like in first grade when he had a nosebleed in Miss Lampley's class? Did she see him when he was a pale, slightly pudgy child, his skin broken out in hives because he was afraid to take a spelling test? No...."
This scene had me musing all afternoon. As Hubby and I worked to put our house to rights, I thought about marriage. About that old cliché of two becoming one. About the idea and the reality of matrimony, holy or otherwise. How two people who probably, as Olive points out, know little about each other commit to each other for life. Supposedly. And how the marriage ceremony itself does little to unify a couple, to make two people become one.
|Climb every mountain together? Yukon, 2006|
First, let's be perfectly clear; I'm not an expert on relationships, not at all. And I'm not advising anyone on anything. Heaven forbid. In fact, the older I get the more I realize that I'm not that much of an expert on my own relationships. But maybe NOT being an expert is a good thing, or at least not thinking I'm an expert, that I have all the answers. Most of my life I've felt like I'm in that scene out of the old adventure movie Raiders of the Lost Arc, the one where Indiana Jones tells Marion that he's making it up as he goes along.
Hubby and I have not had to face the kinds of challenges that some of our family and friends have faced, that's for sure. I know that some challenges are so devastating they can break up a relationship, rather than make it stronger. But still, we've weathered loss, and illness, and other stressful situations together. And we've learned about ourselves and each other, what to do, and what not to do, in order to best support each other.
|Not happy at Not the Ritz, in Goomalling, 2008|
By the time we arrived, had a friendly pint with the proprietor and a few of the locals in the bar, and were shown our room, we were too tired to say..."Uh... you've got to be kidding." At first glance, it didn't look all that bad. Until we returned after supper, and I discovered when I pulled apart the curtains that the window in the room was boarded up, that behind my bed were cobwebs and dirt that looked years old. There was no way I was getting under those blankets. I slept on top of the coverlet, with my coat thrown over me, and my socks on. I won't bother to go into detail about the shower down the hall, which we did not use, or the room with the toilet that looked as if it might actually fall off the back of the building.
|The exit to the balcony at Hell Hole Hotel.|
That's supposed to be the exit to the balcony, above, where we hoped we might sit with our wine after dinner. Ha. Faint hope there, folks. The balcony was closed, unsafe, we were told. Well, the sign says it all. Once darkness fell, we imagined we were in that old Eagles' song. You know, the one that says "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave?"
Of course there is an upside here. I earned major brownie points for my very mature and flexible behaviour that night. Hubby still says, "I can't believe that you agreed to stay." But, he'd been doing all of the driving, we had been on the road for many hours before we arrived at Hell Hole Hotel (as I called it,) and driving around in the dark, exhausted, looking for somewhere else to stay was just not on. I didn't tell him for months, though, that I kind of wanted to smother him as I lay there sleepless, in the dark, trying not to touch anything, listening to him snore.
I didn't smother him, as you might have guessed. And I'm sure we stayed in a much more salubrious accommodation the next night. I seem to recall a lovely cabin in a caravan park on the coast. It's funny that this single night at this ghastly hotel is one of our favourite stories. "Remember that night in Goomalling?" he'll ask. "You mean Hell Hole Hotel in Gruesome Goomalling?" I reply. "Was it THAT bad?" he'll say. "Yes," I always say, "Yes, it was." And we chortle.
As I said, I'm no expert on relationships, not even on those in my own life. But you get my point. That adversities, even small ones, tackled together can forge or strengthen a bond. Create a more unified structure to any marriage. Not sure that structure is the word I want here, but we were talking about hotels.
And I do know that the day of our wedding Hubby and I thought we knew much more about each other than we did. But that's the way with everyone, I imagine.
I will also say that over the years, tackling adversity together, not all of it as funny as our night at Hell Hole Hotel, our marriage has been a lot like an Indiana Jones movie. We've had to make it up as we went along. Except without the Nazis and the boulders.
Ha. Hopefully without the boulders.
|When the road is closed, I guess you just have to find a different route. Kind of make it up as you go along.|
So how about you my friends? Where do you stand on that old cliché about two becoming one? Have you had to dodge any boulders, or chase any Nazis, metaphorically speaking of course, in your relationships?
Linking up with Thursday Favourites at Katherine's Corner and Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb