Monday, January 30, 2006

Of distance and digits

It's been a busy week, but a boring one in a lot of ways. Most of the busy but boring parts, I can't blog about anyway--we have very strict policies regarding blogging about work, and I should know because I helped draft them and typed them all up myself. (That's why I make my office sound like a MENSA convention--stupid co-worker stories are okay if no company secrets are revealed. Amazingly enough, however, we do get things done occasionally.)

At our favorite coffee shop last Thursday, a new employee we can't stand took an ill-timed smoke break, and saw "smoke" at one of the businesses a few doors down, and called the fire department. The business was a dry-cleaner, the "smoke" was steam. She was so panicked! She was also too stupid to feel really stupid. In true bisexual style, I enjoyed watching the firemen and high-fived the barista, who had taken them coffee "for their trouble" and scored some digits.

L'Ailee laughed at me because we were having Hell Week cravings, and we were kind of broke last week, and I combined Velveeta and salsa like they show on the commercials. Organic salsa. Oh, and Garden of Eatin' chips, which are a health foody brand. The Velveeta and the organic cancel each other out, I think.

Speaking of food, L'Ailee was going to work late tonight, taking someone else's class for her. After my lunchtime workout, I sought her out and we talked. When she walked away, I tried tempting her to come home instead, rattling off a list of carnivorous delights that I only make if she's really made me happy or I've really pissed her off. "I can make pepper steak...shrimp skewers...turkey tetrazzini like my mom's!" At that last, she raised her right hand, and then her middle finger, high. She doesn't cuss verbally, but she sure does love exercising that finger. I was inspired, and nobody else was in the room. "We can do that instead!" I called out.

She stopped, laughed, turned around, and hugged me. "I love you so much," she said.
"I love you, too," I replied.

I think I've told it before, but part of 9/11 that freaked her out was that the last thing she said to her friend who died in the towers was a joke about his sexual performance, and then an exchange of gestures, Russian-style. (Russians make a fist, then put their thumb between their index and middle fingers.) She has since insisted that all our conversations end with "I love you" or some other sweet phrase, even if we're upsetting each other. I remembered that afterwards.

Tonight she's sleeping like a kitten, or a baby, or little Butterstick after a busy workout of climbing and pestering his mom. The perpetual motion machine that is my wife in the daytime relies on a lot of quality sleep, and she says she only really gets it when I'm in the house.

I still love seeing what she really is by living with her. I love being real around her, and seeing that she loves me anyway. In an LDR, you're permanently on the first few dates, almost. You're always dressing up and cleaning the house and wanting to say only sweet things so as not to kill the few precious moments y'all have together. The twelve years of distance we had make living together so much sweeter--we know each other but are still learning. We're close friends, and we're also very much newlyweds. I see that she isn't so much stoic, as I thought, but just not very verbal about expressing emotion--it's hard to miss how she feels when she kicks the stuffing out of the punching bag or I hear those knitting needles going CLICKCLICKCLICK! like Madame Defarge's. She jokes about not having cockroaches anymore because of the hot peppers I like to cook with and how I can write messages in dust. I hope we always laugh at each other and appreciate each others' realness.

My mom and I talked about that tonight. We're almost the only people we know who've had long-term, long-distance relationships. She's been with Future Stepdad for 20 years. She likes being engaged, but remarriage scares her. They're seeing a lot more of each other now, and learning a lot more about each other. We were amazed at how much we could relate to each other.

Closing the distance has deepened my relationship with L'Ailee and made it beautiful, at least in our own eyes. Creating some distance did the same for me and my mother. When we both lived in Orlando, she overshadowed me a lot. She made me feel like I was nothing next to her, because she was so smart and so ambitious and had such a big, oversized personality. I felt like I was nothing, and all I could really do to assert myself as an individual was to be a slacker. Even as an adult, I was being asked if I was her daughter and hearing her praises, when I just wanted to be acknowledged for myself.

I felt like a little-bitty wood violet in the shadow of a tree.

But the tree really doesn't mean any harm to the violet, and the violet can look and grow just fine when planted somewhere else. And the things that made her hard to live with were mostly just oversized portions of the stuff I admire and respect about her from afar now.

So now we have equality and distance. We're both adults, and she's in Virginia, and I'm in NYC. And we actually enjoy talking to each other, and I go to her for advice. We laugh and gossip and update each other about our lives. We don't entirely understand, but we make an effort.

I wonder if I should've done it earlier, but it's not earlier. The important part is, it works now, and how cool is that?


alan said...

Out of that whole beautiful post, that you always say "I Love You" no matter what else is going on is so wonderful! Reaffirming somehow that "even though we might not agree about this or that, it lessens not your hold on my heart"...that's so fantastic!

My Dad was a personality like your Mom; he's been gone a long time now, and I miss him everyday. I'm glad you and your Mom can enjoy each other now!


sttropezbutler said...

AS cool AS you are my dear.


Inanna said...

What a beautiful post. I had a great contentment just reading it.

The Fat Lady Sings said...

Nicely written, my dear - truly lovely. I understand why your wife has to end with 'I Love You'. My best friend and I do that with each other - just in case. And also to make sure the other knows they will always have a safe harbor - no matter what.

Anonymous said... amazing are you? This post makes my heart smile. Thank you sweetie.

Blogzie said...

I reconnected with my mom when I was 37 after being away for nearly 20 years, save a holiday visit or two.

She still drives me nuts, but she is also my best friend.

Life is oh-so-good and so are you and your fantastic writing.