Recently a friend called me a romantic. This took me by surprise. Until I met my husband Eric, I people called me a lot of things, but never a romantic. I didn’t believe in all the “hearts and flowers” mushy stuff, and I had never experienced true intimacy. I was a divorced mother of two, and I believed “it” would never happen for me, if “it” existed at all.
It turns out, “it” does exist, and “it” — through Eric — found me. Now, I treasure the intimacy we share. Cue the “ahhhhhhh” response from our studio audience.
But how was I to share intimacy with my sweetie, who was in India? Last week, I shared how we make it work while he is on the road. Well…he came back on Saturday! So, I’ll bet you want to know how it went? Did one of you just scream, “NO?!?” Don’t worry, I keep it PG on Road to Joy.
Well, the first two hours were fantastic, in a “gosh I hope nobody gets injured” sort of way, and that’s all I can tell you because of the PG rating system. And these two hours included gifts: jewelery, beautiful handwritten cards, and a Kama Sutra book as a joke, since we were participating in the challenge (holy cow, how would you like to be the models that posed for those photos!?!?). Soon, though, we had to gather the kids and go to a high school football game. Then, because he traveled 42 hours to get home, he fell into a deeeeeeep sleeeeeeep. Me, too — I can’t sleep when he’s gone.
When we awoke, he was sick with a stowaway Indian virus friend he brought home with him, so sick that I nearly took him to the emergency room. Poor Eric.
But, intimacy = sharing, caring, and connecting. It doesn’t have to be ground-moving, even if 3,000 miles separate you for two weeks. I held his delirious hand, I brought cold rags for his forehead, I picked up his prescriptions. I typed his dictated emails. OK, we’ve got caring (me) and physical connection, but sharing requires mutuality and my husband was near comatose.
So, Eric shared his virus with me, and I got sick, too. Ugh! Not the kind of sharing I hoped for. Now we were both sick. And there was no more caring, connecting, sharing. Unless you call sharing a bad attitude intimacy. Me, not so much. That’s how we spent Monday and Tuesday.
Wednesday, Eric recovered just in time to return to work for my worst day. I called him from the orthodontist, where I had dropped one child. I needed to go to Bellaire High School and pick up another child and drop him at the orthodontist, then take the first one back to Johnston Middle School, return and pick up the second and drop him back at Bellaire. Except I was throwing up in the parking lot of the Frost Bank Building at Bellaire and 610. If you were there on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., you know I am telling the truth.
I called Eric, and my hero came to the rescue. I somehow made it the three miles home without getting pulled over even though I looked and drove like a drunk. Eric works only 10 minutes from the site of my public puking, so he took over with the kids. Ahhhh haaaaa, sharing/caring does not have to occur simultaneously…
That night I was still too sick to sit up. Eric brought our 365 Questions book to bed (for more about it, read Couples that make you want to puke. How apropos the title.). He snuggled up to me. He read the first question:
“If you could be reincarnated into another life form, what would you choose to be?” He stroked my (sticky) hair back from my (pallid) forehead.
“A dolphin,” I mumbled into his chest, which, by the way, smelled like the Obsession cologne sample I had packed in one of his India gifts. It was great to have him home.
“Are you sure about that answer?” he asked.
“Yeahadolphinimsurewhatswrongwithadolphin.” I really didn’t have the emotional or physical strength to give every answer twice, so I might have sounded a wee bit irritated.
“Well, I would chose to be a cardinal, and they mate for life. And you would be a promiscuous dolphin, while I would be a lonely old bachelor cardinal.” His tone was pure “duh, Pamela.”
“Fine, I’ll be a cardinal, too.” Even though I can assure you I would want to be a dolphin. Men.
He made noises that I took to indicate that my revised answer, while late in coming, was satisfactory to him. He handed me the book. I read the next question.
“If there is such a thing as an afterlife, what do you hope yours looks like?” I scraped my toes against the sole of his foot, and he curled it obligingly.
Eric then gave a long answer, most of which I couldn’t hear.
IMPORTANT SIDEBAR: Eric and his offspring mumble and whisper. I call them the Whispering Hutchins. I don’t mean that as a compliment, most of the time.
“I can’t hear you.” Again, might I point out that in my condition I should conserve energy rather than repeat everything?
“I said I’d want to be with you. But I’m not sure I would, with that kind of attitude.” He lifted the back of my hair and let it drop, then did it again.
“I hope you’re kidding,” I sniffed. I wondered if I was going to throw up again. Maybe. Not yet. Be very still.
“I’m kidding.” His voice sounded playful, and he continued with the hair game, so I decided he was likely telling the truth.
“Well, what’s your answer?” he said.
“I would want to be with you, snuggled up like this, but I’d have chosen a cardinal as my form in the afterlife instead of getting the answer wrong.”
Eric let out a long-suffering sigh. He took the book and read another question. His hand moved to my upper arm, and he lightly pinched a trail along it.
“If you could be a super-hero, what powers would you like to possess? That’s easy. I’ll go first. I’d like to flkjwema;lkdmm.”
I said a quick prayer. Dear Heavenly Father: please help me understand my husband. Just 15% of the time would be enough. That’s all I ask for. Amen.
“What?” I asked.
“Seriously, Eric, what are you saying?”
“I’D WANT TO FLYYYYYYY,” he yelled in my ear. “What would you want?”
“Bionic hearing.” I nipped his chest to let him know I was sort of kidding, but with an edge.
“OK, Wiseacre, last question for tonight, and then your cranky butt needs to go to sleep. How would you spend the perfect summer day?” he asked.
“It’s really hot in the summer and there are lots of bugs. I don’t want my perfect day to be in the summer. I like the fall.” I nestled further into the crook of his arm for a better sleeping position, which was futile, because someone had to get up to turn off the lights. Rats.
“Why don’t you just let me answer this one, and you concentrate on being very, very quiet and sleepy?”
This man is smart. “OK,” I said.
“I’d spend it in a cabin with you, somewhere cool and beautiful with no mosquitoes, and a giant bed and a fireplace. We’d get up and ride our bikes –” he held up his hand to quiet me as I started to interrupt, “after sleeping in and doing all the things we haven’t been able to do for the last three weeks, and we’d ride our bikes on smooth roads with no cars. We’d see lots of animals. We’d hike to a gorgeous stream, have a picnic, and nap on a blanket. Someone would bring us dinner that we would eat outside by a campfire while we snuggled in a double lounge chair and looked at the stars.”
I smiled. I know he felt my lips curl up against his chest, because he put his mouth in my hair and said, “So, could you hear me OK down there? Would my summer day be OK with you?”
“It’d be perfect with me.”
“Hey, you know when you get better we’ll only have 18 or 19 days left on this 30 day challenge? I’m thinking we’re going to have to use an average number for our final total. What do you think?”
I pretended I was asleep and snuggled closer. I didn’t fool him.
And I think he’s probably right.
p.s. Thanks to my grandmother, Mama Kitty, for cutting out all the wonderful “Love is…” cartoons from the newspaper for me when I was a little girl. I still think they’re adorable.
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