Thursday, August 19, 2010

On Encountering and Countering Restlessness

Christy had been feeling down for several days. We were in that no man's land where we both knew something was wrong, but whatever the thing - the looming shadow of whatever it was, wasn't nameable enough to me to clearly discern. We both danced around it for a few days. Then a week or two ago she came into the kitchen and asked me, kindly and in her way - completely straighforward, to please compliment her more. All I could do was stand there, not disappear, and nod (because one can not, in that moment, despite complete and unfeigned sincerity say something about how beautiful she looks, or how funny and talented she is, or how artfully she brings out the personality of our children, and how utterly lost I would be without her. Even a dolt could see that it was a time to nod.)

It got me thinking about Bruce Springsteen's "Stolen Car", performed here by Patty Griffin:

Patty Griffin: Stolen Car(mp3)

I met a little girl and I settled down in a little house out on the edge of town. We got married, swore we'd never part. Then little by little we drifted from each other's hearts. At first I thought it was just restlessness that would fade as time went by and our love grew deep. In the end it was something more I guess. Tore us apart and made us weep. I'm driving a stolen car down on Eldridge Avenue. Each night I wait to get caught, but I never do. She asked if I remembered the letters I wrote when our love was young and bold. She said last night she read those letters, and they made her feel one hundred years old. I'm driving a stolen car on a pitch black night. And I'm telling myself I'm gonna be all right. I drive by night and I travel in fear that in this darkness I will disappear.


jomama said...

i've been thinking about this song a lot since i first read your post a couple of days ago. it's given me a lot to think about, as well as what you wrote about you and your wife. i have nothing interesting to say in response, just a thank you. thanks for this post and for this song.

Les said...

Thank you. There are so many delicacies in marriage. I can't say enough how happy I am in marriage, and I feel like Christy and I have a supremely healthy relationship. And here we are nine years into it. I am continually amazed at the need for constant attention to small details. That open and honest communication, the need to state the obvious much of the time (the positives, at least). I assume that Christy is as always confident and assured of my feelings for her/about her. After all, we've been together for decade. And before I know it my compliments have ceased and subconsiously the doubt creeps in, and then there is some shadowy sadness and unsurety, etc.

I've reread the post and I hope that I didn't give the impression that our little boat is full of holes. Quite the opposite. I just hope that we married folks continue to communicate, continue to compliment. It fights off a good deal of restlesness.

jomama said...

oh yes. i think you are exactly right. when i read your post i was thinking how healthy your marriage seemed, and how in tune you were to your wife's feelings. what it made me think about the most is the times i just coast in my marriage, and don't talk to my husband as much as i should. it's funny what just sitting down and talking for a few minutes a day can do, and how detrimental it can be to not have that few minutes of meaningful conversation.
don't worry. i didn't get the impression of holes. i got the impression of a tried and true vessel. :)