(View from our table at lunch in Old Salem)
Things have been very stressful lately. Trae’s grandfather is dying. Trae is very close to his grandparents, and being far away from family has been very hard for him. I have been going out of town to attend lectures, so we are not spending as much time together as I would like. Overall, our schedules have been crazy: go see family, play rehearsals, second jobs, first jobs, hockey, travel, sleep.
Lucky for us, we had a date planned we couldn’t back out of. We had tickets to see David Sedaris; we originally thought that the reading would be in a town 45 minutes away, but a closer inspection of the tickets showed that reading was 2 hours and 30 minutes away! Oops! Right when we were getting ready to leave, we found out that PaPa (Trae’s grandfather) was not doing very well. After a rushed packing job, we hopped in the car and headed to the reading. Our plan was to get a room for the night, wake up in the morning, and see how Papa was doing. If he wasn’t doing well, we would head to SC to see him; if he was doing better, we would head home. I started calling hotels around the area only to find out that it was homecoming weekend of the local (and very large) college.
It felt like a series of mishaps. We left late for the reading (but still made it in time to have dinner at the local brewery and get to the show on time), we realized we forget vital items when packing (jackets!), and we could only get a hotel room in Winstom-Salem, which was thirty minutes away from the town we were going to be in.
But in the end, all the mishaps ended up to one big positive. (So two negatives can make a positive! Yeah math!) We had a blast at the reading, and I fan girl’ed when David Sedaris said he had a house in Emerald Isle. Trae made me promise not to stalk him, but if we happen to be at Emerald Isle this Christmas, I might find his house by “accident.”
The next morning, we called and found out that PaPa was stable and we could wait till next weekend to come visit for his 94th birthday party*. Since we were in Winston-Salem and we were up extremely early, we decided to head to Old Salem. We ate a delicious pastry for breakfast at the Farmer’s Market, tasted local wine, bought Moravian style bread, and ate a wonderful meal. Overall, the perfect unexpected mini-vacation.
The impromptu mini-vacation made us realize how much we had forgotten to make time for us during this extremely stressful time. Having the unexpected gift of time ending up being what we needed to reconnect but to also realize how much we had drifted apart. Without being conscious of it, we had managed to create a separation between us. It wasn’t a hostile separation; we weren’t fighting, but still a divide had been created. We had gotten too use to doing our own thing and not including the other spouse into our personal orbit. When we did cross paths, it was to go see his family; it was a stressful co-existing. The moments of peace and relaxation were spent separately: not healthy for a marriage. What makes it even more unhealthy is when you do not realize you are creating separate spaces.
In short, make sure you make time for one another. One day you might wake up and realize that while you live with your spouse, you two are on separate trajectories. I am not saying to not engage in individual activities, but make sure you are aware of how you are spending time with your spouse. If you find yourselves with on separate orbits, make time to do something together. Time together is the only way to ensure that your orbits do not become as far away as Earth from Pluto (which is still a plant in my textbook).
*We went to PaPa’s birthday on Saturday, November 1st. He passed on Monday, November 3. I was in the middle of writing about his grandparent’s incredible love story and marriage when I got the news. I highly encourage you to go read the post about their 69 years of love and devotion.