I used to scoff at those who simply made it work, couples who lived long and tedious years together even if the fire had died. Life is too short I thought, to spend it with someone who doesn’t kindle your passion.
That was before I knew that passion isn’t something that floats around and lands on you like a lucky butterfly (at least not all the time). It needs to be tended, like a fire in your heart, by breathing life into a spark over and over. You choose where you build your fire, and your heart listens to your choice.
When our turn came to meet and marry, I wondered how we might avoid the boring fate of the uninspired; the settlers who had aimed high and fallen short.
What made us special, more right for each other than the others? We fooled ourselves and listed off the reasons.
Years came and went in a blur of working hard and spinning our wheels. We filled our days with what we thought we had to do, passing each other on our way to office jobs, college classes, cafes where we did our homework.
No one did the dishes, I scarcely remember what we ate, and our tiny apartments never really felt like home.
We were careless with our love, sending out sharp words and criticisms and then rushing out the door to our next obligation. We thought we were building a life for our future. We didn’t see the cracks in what we were building.
A few months before my graduation, we got the best news of our lives. Our little boy was already growing inside of me.
We looked around at the pieces of our life together so far, the noisy apartment by the railroad tracks, the stacks of books and papers, the eighty hour work weeks, the anxiety and stress headaches. We knew it wasn’t what we wanted for our precious child and we dreamed bigger.
Envisioning a garden, a sandbox, a home, we bought a beautiful old yellow house and settled in. We brought home a beautiful, perfect child and hoped to give him the peaceful start he deserved. We didn’t realize how much work we had to do.
Pipes broke, the baby screamed, work piled up, and I grew into a sad and lonely version of myself. My heart sank lower and deeper, knowing this wasn’t what we had hoped for.
We looked to each other for the answers, and only saw more confusion reflected back. “Can you save me?” we asked each other. “I would if I could, but I think I have to save myself.”