Isn’t that your room, too? Well, no. I mean, yes? Well, we’re not one of those couples that has separate bedrooms, if that’s what you’re thinking.
Friday, I was sick. By the time my dear husband came home early from work so that we could head out to his boyhood home to let Daisy the dog out, I was exhausted from a morning of wishing I hadn’t had a couple of cups of tea that yielded less-than-desirable results and packing up everything two humans and one feline need. Now, listen here: traveling with a cat is much more complicated than it sounds, and yet not so complicated that I feel like I have any right to be at all vexed by it.
After exhausting most efforts – a dose of generic Midol and some lunch – to wake me up a bit, I was more tired than ever. I went in and took a nap on the bed in Tom’s old room. Fox also stayed in here while we were on vacation, so I think he was terrified we’d be leaving again like last time and needed constant assurance we were staying put.
“I, Tom, take you, Yvonne, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward: for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish ’til death do us part.”
Firstly – yes, we chose the most traditional of traditional wedding vows because we love the romance of old-time movies and we both appreciate conciseness (and we’d sacrificed much of the latter by following the basic outline of a Lutheran liturgy, though we changed a significant amount). Secondly and more importantly, though I like to tease Tom about the time I spent 90% of my last college spring break taking care of him when he had a powerful flu, he’s an excellent caretaker and he meant those words and I love him so much for it.
So, yesterday, he let me nap with Fox, brought me more blankets because I was very cold, did a little laundry that I brought along because I hadn’t been able to get to it before we left, and made a frozen pizza. He also started watching one of my favorite shows (they have it all on Netflix now, so I think you should go watch it right now if you like funny things and clever pop culture references, Cary Elwes, and pineapple) and was enjoying watching it when I went to hang out with him. I promptly fell asleep on the couch.
I was really not feeling well.
Around 9 pm, I went back to check on Fox and Tom pulled out the sofa bed and got it all set up. We then tried to finagle putting Daisy into a bedroom by herself and keeping Fox in the main part of the house with us. This lasted approximately the length of time it took for us to watch the pilot episode of That 70’s Show, which is when I broached the subject of the fact that Daisy had yet to quit whining and barking at the other end of the house. “She’s probably not going to stop.”
That’s how I ended up spending the night in my husband’s room.
Because I’d napped so much, haven’t spent a night in bed without Tom since September, and I have trouble falling asleep in new places when I’m not hard-core oh-my-goodness-I’m-going-to-die-if-I-don’t-sleep-right-now, I haven’t actually slept. But I’ve thought a lot. And I unsuccessfully attempted to fall asleep while J.B. Fletcher solved some crimes.
I’ve been thinking about this room. I’ve been thinking about the noises. I’ve been thinking about what it might mean to have spent twenty years knowing where your home is, what it looks like, and being able to anticipate each noise and creak. I’ve been thinking about how nice it must have been to grow up knowing what your room is like every day and never worrying about where your family might move next or which room you’ll be moving to when someone gets sick.
I’ve also been thinking about Tom. I have a hard time not squeezing him apart when I walk through this house on a normal day when his parents are home, but it’s even harder when we’re here alone. I’ve been looking around at the things my husband loved. Granted, most of it’s been packed into boxes and put into the attic or brought to our home, but some significant things remain. The mustard yellow telescope I have no idea how to use, but have a hard time not staring at when I throw my coat in here during family gatherings. The model bridges Tom built in this room as a freshman engineering student, which apparently held over 198 pounds. Keep in mind, they’re about 2′ long x 6″ high x 6″ wide and the wood is maybe 1/3 inch thick at the thickest point. The red trim around the window that I suspect hearkens back to a time, long ago, when Tom had a favorite color and wasn’t too shy to say it. The wall shelves that have inspired Tom to love track shelving and hanging shelves at whatever height he wants. The family coat of arms hanging on the wall. The intense backpack that hangs on the wall and went on adventures with the man who is now my husband.
You see, this house and this room have so much that I have lost and tried time and again to regain or recreate.
It’s a family home, where kids grew up and changed, though some things never did. It’s a place that started one way and has been molded to better fit the needs of its inhabitants. The photos on the walls are proudly displayed, not tucked away. They are the art. Because living is an art. Tom pointed to a picture on the wall and told me what he remembers about the vacation they took when he was five. I’ve seen at least one of those “embarrassing” sibling bathtub shots hanging on the wall. I want to squeeze Tom to pieces, by the way, because he was an insanely cute child.
And so I’ve been up all night in my husband’s room. I wonder if it misses the little boy who slept in this bed, who built things, who stayed up late online chatting with some crazy redhead he knew – the boy who, like we all must eventually, left.
I often think of the things we give up in life. We stop doing things for so many reasons: because we grow out of them, lose interest, don’t have anyone to enjoy them with, they meant something to someone who is gone, and many more. But I think the thing that’s important is to retain the memory of them, no matter how long ago they last happened.
I read somewhere that couples (and, I would suppose families, by extension) ought to display souvenirs, photos, and the like from good shared experiences because the simple act of seeing these items on a daily basis reminds us of the good times and helps renew our sense of comradery with our partner.
Spending time in this room, waking up to the same mid-winter view that my husband woke up to on countless mornings like this has made me so thankful to have my adventurous but stable, cute but rugged, nerdy but cool, gruff but sweet, incredible man at my side. If our relationship was a meal, he’s bringing all the stuff I never learned how to make, but really love to eat.