Archives for category: relationship

Just a month before Gorb was due, Chad and I spent a weekend in Colorado Springs for a babymoon. I don’t remember where we first heard the term, but the bigger I got and the realer Gorb became, the better the idea sounded. We would never be alone again, and we would be just us for only that month or so more …. Scary.

So a cheap weekend in the Springs sounded good. We had spent a night down there the year before for a wedding, and had been surprised by how much we enjoyed it. We really enjoyed the hotel, just a simple Hilton Garden Inn with a kickass breakfast and a pool. We don’t need much to make us happy, Chad and Amanda.

So we drove down. We wandered downtown Colorado Springs, past Colorado College, then to the museum of the American Numismatic Association. I had no idea Chad liked coins before we became married, but around the time that we conceived Gorb, he became a little obsessed. It’s not a bad obsession to have, I guess. I understand it not at all, but the ANA Museum was cool. The exhibits were nice and the coins are pretty interesting when you think about how old they are, and the elements which make them up, and the power and politics behind every one of them — not to mention the art, which is a weird thing in and of itself.

A guard bet that I was having a girl. Then he talked our ears off and we had to almost be rude to get away from him.

The next day we went to the Garden of the Gods. Neither of us had ever been there, amazingly enough. It was awesome. We walked all around it, marveling at the rock formations and loving their names. It was a nice but cold day, and it felt good to move. We bought a book for Gorb at the visitor’s center, the first we had bought for the baby.

The whole trip was nice. It was nice just to be with Chad, doing things for each other, being with each other without the rest of our responsibilities hovering around our heads. It was nice to walk with each other and talk about random things and to rest our hands on my enormous belly. It was nice to be together.

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I suck at housekeeping. I’m not even really that clean. I am perfectly content to have clutter and even little dustbunnies running around. Every once in awhile, usually late at night or while procrastinating on some important project, I will get a cleaning urge and just clean the heck out of everything (or at least one specific area). And I do try to keep the grossness out of things, in general — I do maintain the kitchen and bathroom reasonably well.

But it’s just not a priority to me. I like to say that I have other, more important priorities (Elinor! making food! reading! showering! brushing my teeth! watching the second season of _Glee_!), but more often than not, I’m just lazy. I know this about myself.

Chad knew it, to an extent, before we married, but now he knows just how far that extends. I would say that it is one of the largest stresses on our marriage, to be honest (though most days it’s not a huge thing — he does love me, despite my failings). But it is a stress, because Chad is affected by his environment greatly. Things need to be ordered, and in their place, and pleasant for him to function at the level he prefers.

I respect this. But I suck at keeping the house there, and though I am a bit neater and prioritize cleaning because I live with and love him, I have a continual sense of needing to do more. Chad is actually pretty understanding about most of it, and most of my guilt is self-inflicted, but it is there.

Anyway, once in awhile Chad pleads with me to make one specific area of the house a nice one, replete with organization and pleasant light. We have this nice, unheated sunroom on the western side of our house. Chad has made half of it his work-out area. A NordicTrack sits there, along with weights and yoga mat. Plants separate his half from my half, which is a staging area (so many parts of my house bear this name …). Elinor’s carseat lives there when she’s not inhabiting it, and so do random clothesline things, bookshelves that need to be incorporated into our house and MDPL’s space, cat toys, the diaper bag, bags from the Tattered Cover, and, recently, bags from my mother’s basement that contain that last remnants of my childhood.

Oh, and reigning over all of that is the meoda-setla.

Let me write a eulogy for the meoda-setla.

The meoda-setla was a gift from Christine Breiner to me, the last week of my first year of college. I had just discovered that I was going to be an RA in Gund, the weird but desperately proud non-smoking dorm, and Christine, a cross-country-running senior, had been the RA in the room I would have there prior to me. The room was essentially a double single — a huge room, big enough for two, perhaps the largest single on campus, though it was in Gund. (And I am not knocking Gund — I loved Gund desperately. But it was never the happening place, you know?)

Anyway, the meoda-setla is an armchair chaise longue. It’s a cute, overstuffed armchair whose seat extends three feet out so that you can rest your legs on it. Even when I received it from Christine, it had seen better days. Its upholstery was a drab grey, after having originally been white or cream with embroidered flowers on it. I was taking History of the English Language with Professor Klein at the time, and we were reading things on Old English. A meoda-setla is a mead bench in Beowulf’s time, and the sweetness of that idea, paired with the extreme functionality, led to my christening of that chair.

I put it in the western facing corner of my sweet-ass double single, the largest single on campus, under the window. At one point Monica and I had a contraband kitten living on it for a little while. I spent hundreds of hours on that thing that year, and I stored it in the basement of another house the next year while I was in England, then retrieved it when I moved into a Woodland apartment with Monica, Celia, and Maggie. It sat in the corner, again, and I have vivid memories of reading _The Golden Compass_ and literary theory on it in the afternoons, as well as SOBBING on it right after watching _Donnie Darko_ for the very first time.

After graduation, I couldn’t bear to part with it. Mark was kind enough to help me pack his truck around the thing, which barely fit in the bed of that full-sized truck. It went with me to my parent’s house. Then to my apartment in Golden, then to the house in Arvada, then back to my parent’s basement while I moved to Nashville for grad school, and then back up the rickety stairs into the apartment Emily and I shared. It moved to 560 Delaware, the first place I bought, and that’s where Chad began to plot revenge upon the meoda-setla.

Honestly, it was the cat’s fault. Since the meoda-setla had, as I said before, seen much better days, the felt-y stuff that was stapled under the base, hiding the creaky springs, had come apart in some places. Iza managed to worm her way up onto the felt, and then that was all over. Iza always loved that chair, anyway, but when we got Alex, the meoda-setla became the cat chair du jour, every jour, and though I slept in it for eight hours straight the day I got the swine flu, I couldn’t spend that much time in it anymore, once I discovered that I had asthma and that it was cat-induced.

So the meoda-setla became just the cat chair, and it is large, and 560 Delaware was small, and Chad begged me to get rid of it. We have had numerous loud discussions about the meoda-setla, and that’s pretty much as bad as it gets in our house. But I clung to the history of the thing, always saying that it just needed to be reupholstered, and that someday I would get to it. It really is a unique chair. I once went online to find something like it, and I don’t know if anything like it exists. So I should reupholster it ….

Yeah, right.

When we moved here the meoda-setla went to the sunroom, off the beaten path. The cats still love it, to the point that we just cover it with a blanket so that I can occasionally wash the blanket and save our house from cat hair and dirt and Iza’s dingleberries while still allowing the cats to sleep on it. But Chad still hates it, and it still takes up a lot of room, and I never sit in it because of the cats and because, despite my being OK with a little dirt, even I am offended by its complete shabbiness.

But I still refused to get rid of it for a long time, due to that history I mentioned, until after Elinor was born. Then something clicked in me, and I realized that it is just a chair, and dingy one at that. I will probably never have the time or the money to reupholster it, and I do love my husband. I acknowledge my failings as a housekeeper; perhaps I could concede the point and give up this one item as a sacrifice for his happiness. It’s obviously taken me a long time to accept this idea, but accept it I have.

I tried to Freecycle it. Freecycle is a service where you post free stuff for people to pick up if they can use it (often very random shit — from coupons for formula to old keyboards to old beds — I got my clothesline from Freecycle). I thought for sure someone would want it. To wit, my ad:

“An old, slightly ratty but lovely chaise longue armchair (an armchair with a seat long enough for your legs). The most comfortable seat in the world, but well loved by us and our cats — if I had the money and room in the house, I would reupholster it, but for now it is just covered by a long blanket. You will need a pickup truck or long bed to pick it up.”

No one wanted it.

So today I called our trash service. For $15, they will take it away. I made an appointment for next Tuesday.

I am having second thoughts. But it is just a chair. I wish I weren’t so attached to the chair, and the memories, and some vague idea of the part of me that the chair might represent.

I am still wondering about reupholstering. Perhaps I could save up.

Facebook, of all places, let me know that another one of my former students is dead. She was only a junior in high school, and she overdosed, and the student who messaged me on Facebook said that the other people at the party didn’t do a thing to help her. That could easily be high school outrage rearing its head at an opportune moment, but knowing the people this girl hung out with, it could be the truth.

Oh, Jessica. You were so full of life, and anger, and attitude. And yet a burst of enthusiasm and girlish laughter sometimes bubbled up. I wasn’t worried about you in the way that I worried about Omar, the one who took his own life. I wasn’t worried about you in the way that I worry about so many others, the ones who fight obvious abuse or learning disabilities or neglect. Yes, you fought other girls outside the school, and yes, you wore red with so much pride to broadcast your affiliations, but there was that girl deep-down, the girl who liked to read and write, the girl who was whip-smart, the girl who brooked no hypocrisy, the girl who wrote poetry to emulate her favorite rappers, the girl who navigated that ocean of middle school so well most of the time. Even when you didn’t want to, you would pay attention and watch me as I tried to teach you. We shook hands most days. You would smile, which didn’t happen as often as it should have.

Should I have worried more? Should I have done more? Someone should have.

More than a little melancholic and perhaps melodramatic tonight with this news. But, really — of all times to be melodramatic, the loss of a vital 16-year-old is worthy.

And yet I am angry. I am angry at you, Jessica, for being at the party, for taking whatever you took, for leaving your smarts behind. I am angry at you for wearing red with pride. I am angry with you for neglecting your homework and for hanging out with those kids.

But I don’t want to be angry with you. I want to direct my anger at your family, and your friends, and your school and your teachers, and whatever circumstances directed you down this path. I am sure we are all culpable.

I don’t know what those circumstances were, and I don’t know who those others are. I knew you.

A month or so ago my uncle turned to me and asked, “Well, are you ready to be a law widow?”

Yes, Chad starts at the big, bad law firm in a month. He’s got a few more weeks of clerking for his justice, and then a week and a half off, and then our lives change significantly.

Speaking of that justice, Chad is camping at the base of the Angel of Shavano tonight with his co-clerk and their interns, while his justice and Chad’s female co-clerk are crashing in a hotel in Buena Vista. Tomorrow all six of them are going to attempt to summit Mount Shavano and, if the going’s good, Tabeguache.

Beyond my jealousy concerning this outing (I have climbed neither Shavano nor Tabeguache, and I WANT TO), Chad is gone for the night. This is the first night I will be alone, a single mommy. So far it hasn’t been too bad — my dad came over and we watched _The Princess Bride_ while I downed some Santiago’s burritos — but I am still awake at 11:05 and Elinor was kind enough to finally fall asleep around 8:45. Ah yes, Chad is a stabilizing influence on this night owl.

I’ve been dreading law widowhood, even though I am very grateful for it. There is no way we’d be able to afford my year at home without Chad’s job there. But Chad has warned me about 80-hour work weeks for years now, and both of us are nervous about how this will affect each of us, our relationship, and little Elinor. On one hand, I’m glad he has the job because the money will be great, and he’s SO bored with clerking at this point (though we both think it’s been an amazing experience). Chad’s itching to begin some real lawyering, even though he knows he’ll be low lawyer on the totem pole. On the other hand, I am so sad. If I didn’t want to stay home with Elinor, maybe he could find a slightly less high-paying job and be around more. I am going to miss him like crazy, and I think Elinor will, too. Then again, at least one of us is able to stay with Elinor this way ….

We will see. I am very careful about telling people that my year off is just that — a year off. Chad and I will see how this law thing goes. If he loves it, then we’ll see how I feel about continuing to stay home. If he hates it, then we will re-assess and I will look for jobs and daycare.

In the meantime, I miss him already, and he’s only gone tonight. I am such a sucker. But I am way more productive when he’s not around, which is both good and bad. 🙂