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

Hitting the Wall


Provision

We hit the wall.  In August.  No disrespect intended our double date companions.  They are lovely people. Kathleen is an effervescent conversationalist and Dr. Lee is still sporting a soul patch in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve which makes him almost the most interesting man in the world.

But the August Tired Date almost didn’t happen.

We were, aptly, tired.

Of mostly everything.

And maybe even each other.  A little.  But you should read on.

In the two months leading up to August, the majority of Aly’s time was spent tending the apron strings between her and our firstborn Grace Ann who would matriculate to the University of South Carolina on the 17th.  While my wife and daughter stuck to their schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Friday and every other Sunday trips to Target, I preoccupied myself with a wholehearted largess of malaise. Even though Grace Ann would be relocating to a dorm room just five miles from our home as the crow, or stork, flies, the move represented something as yet un-experienced in our lives: one of our children would succinctly and intentionally place both feet beyond our threshold into a world largely of her own choice.

That’s heavy.

And normal.

For weeks our ears stayed attuned to the whispering psyche that said, among other things, “she’s leaving the nest, she will be alright, you are getting old, and your checking account is overdrawn again.”  I hate how that voice mixes the metaphysical with the mundane.

Although not by design, Aly and I went through a relational desert of sorts this summer.  She headed for the hills to deal with her adjustment in solitude, and I went looking for her in the usual oasis.  Neither was where we wanted the other to be.  Sucked.

We became so preoccupied with our circumstance we almost forgot our vow, not to this blogging experiment, but to the one at our wedding; specifically, the one that said, “will you love, honor and cherish one another…when your kids grow up and leave the nest and you cry a lot because you aren’t where you thought you’d be but you love where you are…will you love, honor and cherish one another… because your kids are magnificent and your marriage survives and your faith in God and each other grows through circumstance that you cannot fathom from the perch on this tender wedding altar…will you?”

And then some friends called with a life raft of fellowship they had no idea we needed, which is not an overstatement for the sake of language.  If a metaphor could be applied to our marriage for most of the summer, it would be a sailing one, with the apt descriptor called “dead calm.”  There was no great trauma in our lives’, we were still afloat, even with good provisions on board.  But most days all we had energy for was sitting still.  Not much energy for each other. Dead Calm.

But that’s normal too.

And the trick is staying on board until the winds pick up and you sail again.

One daughter lives in a college dorm now.  A son is learning to drive.  Another daughter looks like a professional ballerina.  They will always be our kids, but they won’t be kids forever.


Their toys are much more expensive now.

And of the many things I hope for their future, one of the most profound dreams I have for them is their net worth in friendships.  For twenty-three years our marriage, like the August Tired Date, has been enriched by friends.

I couldn’t imagine it any other way.  So Thanks, all of y’all.  You know who you are.

And God said, “That is good.”

Makin’ Bacon…or not.

It used to be a bakery...got nothing for that one.

Hey, it was a bakery a long time ago. I love bread.

[POSTSCRIPT:  several have inquired, a few at church this morning, with the question, “so how was…breakfast?”  Because he has “an acute sense of propriety,” a True Gentleman never tells.  He will say, however,  the best part was the laughter.  And after 23 years, he’ll take that all day long.]

A few weeks ago unbeknownst to me Alyson purchased a “romance package” from a local boutique hotel.  The deal includes dinner at Garibaldi’s, the restaurant where Tired Dating began six long months ago, and one overnight stay in above average environs at the boutique hotel conveniently located half a block from the restaurant.   Our date is tomorrow night, so you know what I am thinking? Riiight.

Its not one of those “Pink Neon” places.

I couldn’t be happier.  Any man reading this is happy too, whether he admits it or not to his spouse or girlfriend.  Although probably afraid to cop to his smirk, upon reading this entry he may explain the grin as the byproduct of how much trouble he imagines I will incur for writing this entry, let alone posting it.  But if tortured to truthfulness, he will admit it. He will scream it… “I am smiling for Kevin, because he is going on a date at a hotel, which means he gets Hotel Breakfast! Aaaaahahahahaha!”

Perhaps it’s a fraternal thing, but common to most men is a healthy and pervasive expectation for Hotel Breakfast.  And we don’t care how we get it.  Gourmet Buffet with waffle and omelet station.  Sit down order from the menu.  Quick and free dash to yesterday’s donuts and egg substitute sterno tray.  Or the bag of almonds from the mini-bar.  Doesn’t matter.  There’s hopefulness, an excitement.  Hotel Breakfast, in varied and surprising form, will be different from what we consume at home.

The ice sculpture has no nutritional value whatsoever.


The ice sculpture has no nutritional value whatsoever.

Imagining hotel breakfast triggers a miniscule particle in our brain which then alerts chemicals and nerves and natural occurring narcotics to direct the limbic, circulatory, musculature, skeletal and hydraulic systems to contemplate the meal ahead.  I think it might even border on obsession.  We wonder in delirious thought: “Bacon…will it be maple cured, or perfectly crisp?  Will there be an obnoxious cornucopia at a big table inviting me towards breads and rolls and danish and loaves I haven’t seen since the last hotel date?  Will the fruit be carved into unknown geometric shapes?  Can I pour my milk into my junior box of Frosted Flakes like I did when I was a kid?” No, wait; retract that one, wrong memory bank.  But you get my drift.  And I almost forgot the most important one, “Will I be allowed seconds?”

Given the full disclosure already offered in the above paragraphs on behalf of truthful men everywhere I guess I should admit to times when our buddies, co-workers, and the occasional homeless man selling newspaper at the corner might happen to find out about an upcoming hotel date.  It’s like a relay team sharing the Gold medal, high fives for everyone.  The lone caveat is the guy who has become accustomed to skipping breakfast or going without for one reason or another, bless his heart.  He really doesn’t know how to process the option of chopped pecans on a waffle, much less a cold cup of yogurt with homemade granola.  Mostly he’s just bitter, and no one really likes to be around him anyway. I know, I know, it’s sophomoric, but breakfast at a hotel?  In the words of Brother Dave, “the worst I had was wonderful.”

But a myopic view of Hotel Breakfast is discouraged. It’s not the most important thing on the date.  And it never will be.  One focuses solely on breakfast at ones peril.  Maybe the kitchen is closed, or the doughnut delivery is late, or there is an early checkout mandated by circumstance.  It happens.  And when it does, the important thing to realize in a relationship is this: neither man nor woman can live by Hotel Breakfast alone.

(There’s always lunch.)