It’s raining here in San Diego early Sunday morning. Mighty fierce clouds painted varying shades of gray cover the sky. The palm trees out my bedroom window look like tiny umbrellas silhouetting the sky.
I retreat into morning silence, a gift of pause in our busy world. May’s unusual, wet, windy, stormy weekend morning offers a dramatic plot twist, upsetting our beach hike plans. I think of Dorothy in Kansas, Hunk crying out, it’s a twister, it’s a twister, the wild winds whipping, Dorothy scooping Toto into her arms. My cat, paws tucked under his chest, warms my thighs. Even though spring is around the corner, I’ve kept three blankets on my bed, their warm heaviness now cutting the morning chill.
The TV is on downstairs, my husband’s way of unwinding, so unlike mine. For years it annoyed me, but love in marriage has a way of beckoning acceptance. Love creates an alchemy within our opposites, like coal transforming into gold. Or in love, we compromise. I’ve accepted his strange TV meditation, as long as the sound is lowered to a threshold that doesn’t intrude on my ‘silence’. I’ve learned to block out the dull background TV noise, or I scream out ‘lower it’ when crashing, clanging sounds and music TV penetrate my nerves. My nerves serve as my threshold’s thermometer. It’s important in marriage to know our boiling points. He knows to lower the sound just right so it sinks into oblivion. Marriage calls for compromise from both sides.
Our 19-year old son is on a cross-country road trip. This is our first weekend in several weeks he’s not at home on the weekend. I feel the discomfort of too much space that’s all ours, empty of the typical teenage energy like tornadoes sweeping through the house. The stark echo of the empty nest visits this morning like a foreign ghost.
He turns the television off and comes upstairs. He’s like a rat in a cage, his body rhythm still revved up from his forty hour plus work week, along with at least twelve hours added of travel time in traffic. My heart sinks, how hard he works for the family. I’m like my purring cat curled into the corner of my bed. He wants to go out for coffee, what we planned before our hike. I assumed because of the dramatic plot twist of rain in San Diego, and that he brought me up a cup of rich brewed coffee earlier, we silently agreed we’d have coffee at home.
I’m enjoying the song of the rain.
One thing my husband always says about a good marriage is that we need to stretch. We need to stretch when we don’t feel like doing what our spouse needs. It’s like this in all good relationships and even friendships. I know I should be flexible like the palm trees in the wind, offer him the gift of stretching and get out of bed to go with him for coffee at a cafe. My mind goes to how I’d rather do yoga this morning.
Before I attempt getting up from under the warm covers, he says, ‘you should have made me coffee’. He’s really cranky. I bite my tongue. Suddenly a beam of light comes through the window, a break in the storm. I think how its typical of him to make me coffee in the morning, and not make enough for himself. I brush off his remark. He leaves the room. Silence fills the house. Then the rain comes again pounding on my window.
I check in with myself about my morning selfishness. Getting out of bed, I’m now ready to give him what he needs, an outing at the cafe. After getting dressed and making the bed, when I’m brushing my teeth, he comes bouncing upstairs like Tigger, filled with a caffeinated happiness, a cup of Starbucks in his hand. I wondered why the house was so quiet, I assumed he was tidying the garage, another strange way he unwinds. But he snuck out and went to the cafe. “I apologize”, he says. “I should have made myself a cup of coffee earlier. I’m working on that”. He’s referring to working on neglecting his own needs, how he cares for everyone else and forgets himself.
We decide to take a beach walk, even in the rain. By the time we get out of the house, the rain has cleared. It’s a glorious walk on our favorite beach against the unusual and chilly wind. The waves roll fierce one after another pounding the shoreline. Under the cloudy gray sky of many gray tones, it all feels so dramatic and romantic. We thank God for this day. I grab his hand.
We love your comments and hearing ways you stretch with those you love – in a marriage, relationship or friendship?