Jesus Justice

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I’ve been hiking the path of justice, attending bond and preliminary hearings awhilst two trips to Family Court for the “juvenile” and all I can metaphorically offer is this, my feet hurt.

I wonder if their feet hurt when they kicked down our back door while she was home?

The fact all four perps are incarcerated awaiting trial or sentencing at the time of this writing feels kinda like peeing in the snow; we made a tiny little mark on a surface that will otherwise be unnoticed.  They are criminals, period, and they deserve everything the law can muster against them.  But I know rehabilitation in our system might as well be an avenue on Neptune, because it appears impossible to get there from here.

So the Village ain’t blameless by a long shot either.  What is our takeway?  We best gather the courage to consider at least that while we posture another courage informing us all to purchase designer weapons surely soon sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond Whatever, because it feels like that is where we are headed.  I can’t help but think these days have given me a view into what I never asked for. I’ve now looked into the collective faces of the collective juveniles who will be collectively killed by the collective bullets triggered at the collective hands of citizen dwellers who are just plain fed up, to say nothing of terrified. I understand.

And that sentiment, the one telling me to take up arms, leaves me flat.

But it’s not the only thing I feel.  I’ll study that for a while I guess.  Am I less of something, less of a father, protector, red-blooded American because I am not moved to deal justice at the end of my own hands?  I pronounce no judgment on victims who feel conversely.  Who am I to say?  But my evolution hasn’t birthed me there yet, so I can’t go there.

In my now informed opinion, I believe an additional gun introduced into the situation matching the one carried by the four perpetrators would have only led to a volley of escalation and ammunition.  Those who know me best would be apt to conclude my response as the predictable measure of a liberal Christian minister.  But I think neither my theology nor my affiliation with the left side of the chamber is the seat of my sentiment.  I think my feelings come squarely from this fact: our daughter is alive and so well today, posting photos playing Maiden to a boy’s Knight in a Viking museum in Iceland.  “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and how long and how high and how deep is the love of God.”

Well, Ok, maybe there is some Theology in here somewhere.  I claim no corner on the God market, but I am more inclined to use prayer as my weapon of choice today.  Is that crazy?  Oh God. Be God. Nothing more.  Nothing less.

Tired Dating was started as a monument to enduring the stuff of relationships, primarily between husband and wife, specifically between Kevin and Alyson. There has been a thread of prayer between the keystrokes, invisibly offered and sometimes felt.  This writer’s shoulders are uncertain of many things, but that ole Holy Spirit ain’t afraid to rest on a shifting surface.  So tonight, I’ll try to cobble together a prayer for an enemy, trusting that my muted attempt of stuttering silence is enough.  It has to be.

And if you are still reading and wondering what in God’s name does this post have to do with dating my wife within these difficult times, here is my answer, as a father, protector, red-blooded American…and a prayer:  It has everything to do with dating my wife.

Everything.  Everything goddammit. Everything.

Lean on We

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May 6, 1983 – two teenage kids from Nashville  successfully navigate a first date.  He picked her up, took her to TGI Fridays and then to see Dustin Hoffman become Tootsie at Melrose Theater.  She put her hand on his knee during the movie.  It was more than enough.

May 6, 2013 – three teenage kids all of thirteen, fifteen and eighteen unabashedly sleep in the same room tonight because their presence with each other makes them feel strong. IMG_4038 They will remember this date on the calendar too, but not for the same reason.  Parents now, no way could those two kids from the eighties have imagined this day from their easy perch back then. It wouldn’t have mattered if someone told them how hard this would be.  They were in love as much as you can be at that tender age.  But it was real enough to get them to this night, tucking their sprouting adult kids in safe, remembering when they placed blankets over rising and falling shoulders in the crib, listening to each breath as magic, hardly believing how far those days are removed from this now, the now of today.  The large man kicked in the back door while the home alone from college eighteen year old barricaded herself in the bathroom, “they are in the house now, he kicked down the door, please, please” she screamed to the 911 operator.  She was strong enough to be loud enough.  They left.  She stayed put until the police arrived.  She gave them a solid description.  Four arrests already late tonight.  Four bond hearings tomorrow.  Thank God.  The invasion of a home cannot be aptly described.  It is only felt.  And the course of the journey set in motion thirty years ago today was not altered on this one, only confirmed.  Above every THING that could have been taken and destroyed, the love that built this house is stronger than a busted door frame and deadbolt, and through it all, still, it is more than enough.  It is everything.

Happy May 6, Honey.  WE are strong today.  And we bore children strong enough to know how to lean on each other.  I think they’ve been watching us.

In Praise of Sleeping Together

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I am most impressed with my wife when she is sleeping.

When insomnia strikes, “paying attention to it” is the worst course of remedy she tells me, but then again, how would she know?  She’s never, as long as I have been sleeping with her, suffered the torture of a repeated self inflicted beating about the head with the rolled up and crinkled mantra “I’m not sleeping” while one is currently non asleep.

When she goes to sleep it’s like watching David write the lyrics to Hymn 23.  She drifts away quickly, sometime too quickly.  And if she wakes up to adjust a pillow or process the nights Chardonnay, she rarely remembers the interruption, and if she does, it doesn’t matter.  That’s talent.  And inner peace. I dig it.

When she wakes up in a little while, and sees that I am not crumpled in a heap next to her, she’ll know the Sandman missed me again.

And this too shall pass, my sleeplessness.  Everything happens in seasons.  But I thought it relevant to connect the dots between insomnia and our dating life.  After all, “Tired” is in this blog’s title.  And whichever label I give to the anxieties making my three AM mind serpentine like a teenage driver dodging squirrels in the road, this is the stuff of middle age marriage, so therefore, normal.

I have always hated the term “marriage bed.”  It’s simultaneously corny and gross, evoking velvet rope or crime scene tape being draped around an event that may or may not have been well attended.  Jerry and Elaine once had a negotiation on Jerry’s couch about “sleeping” having nothing to do with “sleeping together.”  At which time they retreated to not “sleep” together.  And in the end they were proven to be relational idiots.

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Photo taken by Grace Ann Roberts, Rainbow Place, Nashville, 1997

So bang the drum for sleeping, literally, together. When one can’t, the other usually can, and that is perhaps the best definition of a partnership I can think of.  And that ain’t nothin.

Good morning.

Being There

Our youngest on the Shelby Street Bridge in our hometown, Nashville TN

Our youngest on the Shelby Street Bridge in our hometown, Nashville TN

If I could paraphrase the goal in one phrase it would be this: to get where we are going together.

We had a succinct beginning on December 16, 1989, but nothing since then was predicted.  We couldn’t see Columbia, SC via Williamsburg, KY through Crawford, TX from the altar in Nashville, TN.  We couldn’t see emergency c-sections and umbilical cords knotted and wrapped around baby’s neck.  Couldn’t see graduate schools and career disappointments.  Couldn’t see arguments epic. Couldn’t see a hole in a neck cut open to save life.  Couldn’t’ see dehydrated faith and long stares into nothingness.  Couldn’t see a borrowed house. Couldn’t see old friends leaving and new friends arriving.  Couldn’t see Anglican.  Couldn’t see trying this hard.

And we couldn’t see how satisfying the view would be when all the hard mixes with all the good and we notice ourselves lovingly paying attention to each other because it would suck to be alone on this veranda.

“Will you keep blogging now that the year of Tired Dating is over?”

Probably.  Maybe.  We’ll see.

But, this blog was never the goal.  Alykev.com was merely a delivery system.  “Tired Dating” was an artistic label we attached to our married life entering our 23rd year together.

We captured our domain, set up the blog and managed the process. Amazed by clicks, views and visitors in the thousands, we originally thought only stray family members would happen by.  This has been fun, a good outlet, and an opportunity to communicate some marital authenticity that is evidently needed in a world with scarcely little.

But, this blog was never the goal.

The goal was, and is, something that cannot be tracked by WordPress analytics.

On many days I absolutely don’t understand why Aly thinks what she thinks.  And she says the same about me.  We aren’t trying to figure each other out.  Anymore.  Maybe we are trying to accept who the other is and just keep moving, not knowing where, but doing so together.

That’s what we said we would do.  Get there together.

Wherever that may be.

Congaree National Park, 20 minutes from our front door, Columbia SC

Congaree National Park, 20 minutes from our front door, Columbia SC

so much more than affordable.

It’s late.  Past eleven.  Everyone else is asleep, the last school night before Christmas break.  I am still up, writing, and waiting for the college girl to come home.  She just called.  “Hey dad, I’ll be home at 11:30.”  A gift without the need of unwrapping.

Last night Aly and I celebrated our twenty-third year and one day of marriage.  Sunday was too full to work in a tired date. Aly began the day on a Sunday School panel seated by our priest.  Aly is a School Psychologist, a job title until last Friday largely unknown in the national vernacular, and we would all rather it had stayed that way.  The Sabbath day ended with a youth group Christmas Party chaperoned by me, because, YOUTH is the funnest gig going at church, and I like it when church is fun.  Teenagers angling for the best White Elephant gift had never appeared so sacred.  They were all six years old once.  Thank God they made it this far.  Nothing is promised.

So against the best advice of Dave Ramsey, we went out on Monday night.  Not that he has anything against Monday, but he has built a career on debt free dining.  We went anyway, not as a riot against financial peace, but rather because we would have been sorry if we didn’t.

And forgive the comparison, but I thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s turn of the phrase “Cheap Grace vs. Costly Grace.”  Again, no disrespect intended, but these twenty-three years and a day have cost us something.  The conscious choices we have made were not the sum total of decisions for the sake of ease and financial gain. To not celebrate would be to disregard the value of the pile of moments that have gotten us to here.  It’s been work.  We still haven’t made it to the easy part.  And what is the fun of celebrating something that requires neither sweat of brow nor toil of hands?  “And David said to the owner of the threshing floor, ‘we will not offer a sacrifice which costs us nothing.’”

As I left for work this morning Aly told me she discovered a leak beneath our bathroom sink. I was immediately taken to the words of Jesus incarnate in the one called Erma Bombeck:  Worry is like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere.

I exhaled worry and disgust for a moment.  Just add it to the list of required repairs.  Dammit!  And then I inhaled grace.  Grace to splurge on dinner.  Grace to see a solid marriage being built one repair after another.  And Grace to look back at this year of tired dates to see a Divine blueprint for a good marriage.  Maintenance required.

So there is a bucket beneath the p-trap, and a fan drying out the cabinet floor.

And I had lobster last night, she the Cobia.  And with wine, the meal was 134 dollars.  “Eat that Ramsey!”

Sucks for the Lobster, but it was goooood for the Anniversary couple.

Sucks for the Lobster, but it was goooood for the Anniversary couple.

Eternity Reality or “Where’s the freakin plunger?”

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In the archives of this blog you will see pictures of romance and happiness and friendship and love and a general sense that we are a part of the beautiful people clan.  We eat strawberries dipped in chocolate and drink champagne from flutes and eat at restaurants like Garibaldi’s dining on corn meal encrusted fried oysters served over green tomatoes drizzled with a roasted pepper remoulade.  We attend art museum functions, even walking off with the sculpture from the winning bid.

Yeah, it’s really as good as it sounds. But authenticity begs a less pretty revelation.

If we have endeavored to show ourselves as a real couple tripping the life fantastic on a monthly basis amidst these tired dates, we must adhere to truth in advertising standards and showcase our lower, less romantic, attributes.  And who could doubt we’ve had them this year, our low points? Or, maybe there are those who read Tired Dating as a kind of fantasy trip all their own, trading daily blahs for our easy life.  If we can be of fantasy material for some other tired soul(s) then so be it.  But at this point they should probably digress.  If anyone is going to live vicariously through our tired dates they should have the stones to see how the sausage is made.

You betcha.

There are days when the laundry piles so high it looks like we are constructing a personal WIPEOUT course from the rec room to the attic.  “Goodnight, and, big balls.”

One of us, I won’t name who, has on regular occasions been heard to scream “where’s the freakin’ plunger” to the obvious and just as motivated response “where do YOU think it is you jackwagon?”

Having never been able to successfully subscribe to the “never go to bed mad” philosophy, there have been a few nights this year when we have slept beneath the same roof, but in different beds.  Not proud of that, but we are making sausage here, remember.

Every other fortnight one of us buys a plug-in scent bomb to thin out the odor de canine while the other comes behind and clandestinely unplugs that sucker for being unwillingly intoxicated by the aroma of old lady powder.  It’s Clouseau and Cato all over again, minus the Asian and French Connection.

And last night we argued about the proper usage, or rather non-usage, of couch pillows.  Are they for show?  Are they for comfort?  These are questions for the ages.  Evidently.

And eternity is all about us.


A Good Day in the Mountains…is a Good Day.

Relational moments good and bad will last forever, in our memories, in our actions and reactions based upon years of doing life together.  So, make the most of these moments, not because they are fleeting, but rather because they are eternal.

And that brings us to a revelation we have surprisingly considered each of the past ten months: the further a marriage gets from reality, in practice or in theory, the harder it is for that marriage to thrive within the ritualized confines of typical, ordinary living.

We have three more dates to record in the balance of our year.  We will probably spend more on a dinner than we should.  We will wear clothes that make us feel pretty, as if our beauty merely comes from the surface.  But know this; these dates, while appearing perhaps showy and grandiose, have helped make for us one of the best years we have ever had.

Eternity within the ordinary.

(There is a reason sausage taste so good.  It takes effort to get it right.)

If you squint your eyes…

…and imagine in just the right shades of ocean and luxury, this might as well be a balcony in Crete or a Villa in Provence. 

Someday maybe, we will Tired Date internationally. In the meantime, while plotting strategies to fill Santa’s bag with debt free joy, we will settle for the having all three kids waking up this morning in the same house, one by one making their way out to the porch and asking, “are we going to church?”

I think I’m already there.

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