Thursday, August 30, 2007

Traces of a Shared Life


Last night, I hurriedly walked down the corridor on the sixth floor of my apartment building, anxious to get to my door at the end. I had had a long day, full of the usual misadventures of English teaching. My door at the end of the hallway was a gate to "another world." As soon as I was on the other side of that door, I would gratefully peel away the grimy, dirty disguises, made dingy by the day's journey. Patient English teacher; that would come off first. Polite foreigner and diligent Chinese language student would be next. By the end of the day, I felt like a U.P.S. package that's traveled a great distance. By the time it gets to it's destination, the package is covered with dents and smudges of dirt. But once the package is torn open and discarded, the item inside is just as it should be (unless the journey was particularly rough).

It was with these anticipatory feelings of relief that I reached my door. I had been wondering if Ian, my husband, would be home, and I could tell the moment I reached the door that he was. I wonder, can all wives do this? I can't explain how this sort of sixth sense is developed, except to say that you become adept at discerning tiny changes in the environment, changes that certainly weren't put there by you. This time, it was the position of the doormat. It was disheveled and slightly out of place, something I never would have allowed to happen. Admittedly, I'm a neat freak. Order on the outside has always made me feel like there's less chaos on the inside. Ian tries his best for my benefit, but he wouldn't have thought to replace the doormat to it's rightful position (in the exact center of the doorway) after wiping his feet on it. Thus, I knew my husband was just on the other side of that door. And despite my aversion to disorder, my heart skipped a beat.

This is when I realized that love can make us delight in things that we never thought we could delight in. Snoring, abhorrent with other men, is comforting when it comes from my husband (to a degree). It means that there's another warm body in my bed, adding to the feeling of security I need to go to sleep. The water that Ian tracks though the house after he gets out of the shower, although a safety hazard, is another sign that the man I love is nearby. Quirks become quaint, idiosyncrasies become endearing, and annoyances become beautiful reminders of a loved one's presence.

Of course I know that this feeling of appreciation for quirks is not consistent. It rises and falls with one's moods. Earlier today I believed for a split second that Ian's failure to return home with our camera was a malicious attempt to keep me from using it with some friends tonight. But, it is at these times that we're presented with a choice. Do I hold my husbands imperfections against him, or, knowing that I'm also imperfect, do I try to love this part of him as well? Some imperfections do need to be changed, but others, more innocent ones, can become beautiful when they're embraced.

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