"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Monday, February 25, 2013

X Is For........XOXOXO

Kisses and hugs, baby. Love. Real love. That's what this one is about.

My lovely wife Lisa and I spent a weekend away together recently and it really made me realize how lucky I am to have the relationship with her that I do.  We have been "together" as a couple for 24 years and were bestest buds for a couple years before that. You'd think she'd be sick of me by now, but it seems not. Rather, we are a closer and happier couple than ever before, and even as our lives change and our circumstances change, we just keep growing more and more in love. It's cool.

Our weekend away was originally going to be a family thing, we were going to go with our son to Durham to see the Broadway musical version of Mary Poppins. Then our son's church youth group changed the weekend of their annual winter retreat to the same weekend as the show and he decided he would rather go to the mountains with them. It turned out well, he left on a Friday morning and didn't get back until the following Monday afternoon, leaving us time to make an impromptu romantic getaway out of the show trip. As it turned out, the experience really showed us something we weren't expecting.

Since John wasn't around anyhow, we took Friday evening to go see Safe Haven (ok, but a really good starring role for our little slice of Heaven where we live) and even went out to a bar afterwards! You have no idea how long it had been since we went out to a bar just the two of us for drinks. I didn't want to go, actually, but ended up talking myself into it because it was Great Guinness Toast night and I sort of had a professional responsibility.  Man, am I glad we went. Slainte is our local Irish pub and is about the most perfect drinking place you'll find around here. It has a cozy feel, friendly bartenders and Guinness on tap. It is also free of drunken rednecks trying to smash beer bottles over each other's heads, something that is a real problem in these parts. We ended up thoroughly enjoying ourselves, and more importantly, each other. It felt just like all those times we were out to bars in college, only we talked about work and parenting and friends and our community activities instead of.....well, instead of whatever we used to talk about then, I find I can't remember. It's just so nice to be with someone with whom there are no questions, no worries about where you stand. I needed that, and once again, it was Lisa who delivered.

Our weekend away without John brought a revelation of sorts. We didn't miss him this time. Not that we didn't think about him, we did. We talked a few times and texted a lot with John while he shared his adventures with us and us with him, but we didn't ever wish he was with us instead of with his friends out in the mountains. We are growing up, all of us. We are crossing that border where we are seeing that he is becoming his own person, and rather than fighting it, we are celebrating it. I think a lot of that comes from the strength of our love for each other, Lisa and I, I mean. Empty nest syndrome is very real. Who hasn't seen couples go into a sort of vapor lock when they no longer have raising the children in common. Too many couples, I think, develop a relationship over the years of parenting that is so child-based that they wind up with nothing else tying them to their spouse when the kids grow up and leave home (or even before). They find that whether it was conscious or not, they were staying together "for the kids." While we are a very tight family, I was glad to see that Lisa and I are still very much in love as a couple, not instead of the family dynamic, but in addition to it. I think it makes the whole unit stronger. I think it provides a more stable and healthy environment for our son. I think it is part of the reason he isn't shy about doing things on his own. He will take flight when it's time and he will soar to heights undreamed of by Lisa and I. He will leave us with an empty nest, yes, but it won't be lonely, it will be a chance to begin a new chapter together.

Together. That's what I am talking about. Without even consciously trying, we will always have together with each other. It's easy. And natural. And I am very, very lucky to be able to say that.

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