Sunday Morning ~ We’ve All Got Our Part
Khoswe wa pa tsindwi adaulula wa pa dzala. ~ The rat on the roof revealed the one in the rubbish heap.
~ Chewa proverb
November 10, 2019
I learned a lot from my ex husband. He was the smartest person I knew, though he didn’t do well in school. He probably had what would be diagnosed as a learning disability now, and if he were in school today instead of the 60’s I’m sure his life would have been very different. As a student, I memorized a lot of facts and dates, got good grades on tests, then promptly forgot all the facts and dates. I learned almost nothing about history or politics. I made the honor role but only because I’m a good test taker and can memorize. All I learned about world history I learned from travel and conversations with Joe. He taught me to read newspapers and be interested in the world. He knew names and dates of treaties I’d never heard of. He knew the chronology of world events way better than the history teachers I had. He could name every president in order. I used to be shocked by the stuff he knew wondering where on earth you get all that knowledge. It was way before Wikipedia. He was horrible to play Trivial Pursuit with.
Joe asked me to marry him when we’d been dating two months. I grew up seeing a terrible example of marriage and didn’t want any part of it, sure that marriage would kill the love we had. Joe convinced me it could be different. He knew I wanted to do Peace Corps right out of college and he said he wanted to do it too. I didn’t believe him. I thought he was just saying it because I did. I suggested I go and we could get married when I got home. He said we’d be different people then; having that kind of experience would change me and we should experience it together. I thought about that and it made sense. We looked into going together as a couple without being married, but at that time there was no guarantee of being placed together if you weren’t married. The more we talked the more I was convinced he was sincere about wanting to go. He had dropped out of college and was looking for some direction. The thought of telling my parents I was marrying someone who had dropped out of college, someone they’d never even met, was out of the question. I reasoned with myself…if you can’t tell your parents you want to marry him, do you really want to marry him? But the more I got to know him, the more I understood that dropping out of school was a good decision. He was paying for everything himself, whereas my father was paying my tuition. Dropping out would have been suicidal for me but he wasn’t happy with what he was studying and didn’t want to waste the money until he knew what he wanted to do. How utterly mature and practical. It seemed brave and wise. I admired that and still do.
We had long, long talks about how we would respect each other, help each other grow, support each other and learn from each other. And we did that. I had a better marriage than anyone I knew and always felt it was my reward for having a really crappy childhood. The fact that it fell apart colossally does not negate all the good we had and, though he is a very different person now, I still love the man I married.
In our first year together he talked about The Hobbit, a book I’d never even heard of. He’d read it several times. He related it to life situations in ways I found fascinating, and he just seemed so worldly for a guy who hadn’t traveled as a kid. It was a book we would read over and over again to our children, and when they got a little older we graduated to the whole Lord of the Rings series. We didn’t have a television, making a conscious decision to raise our kids without one. That was partly because of Joe’s addiction to TV. His mother always said it was because he had colic and would stay up and watch Jack Paar with her. This is how kids got diagnosed in those days. Ha ha ha. When we were first married and staying at his parent’s house I was in the shower and asked him to get the shampoo which was downstairs. I waited and waited and waited standing under the water until the hot water was gone, then grabbed a towel, wrapped myself in it and went down the stairs looking for what happened to him. He was standing in the living room, shampoo under his arm, watching something on TV. In those early days this was a funny family story. Believe me, that behavior got less and less funny as time went on and we agreed it would be better to not have a TV in the house. Not having that distraction gave us lots of face to face time in the evenings which I still cherish. We would read aloud to the kids every night all piled up together on the couch. Once a year we’d read the whole Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series. We got to know the story well and we’d insert lines from the books into our daily discourse. I loved it. We had a cat named Galadrielle, renamed after we realized she wasn’t a Gandalf. I just thought we were the coolest family.
I’ve been thinking a lot about The Hobbit series lately. It seems there are so many parallels in our current state of affairs. I want to be careful. I don’t want to jinx anything by being optimistic about the future, but I am a little more hopeful after Tuesday’s election and I rewrite the script to fit daily events. I haven’t decided who all the characters are yet, but who can deny there are evil and good characters in this drama we call America? Anyone can see that. Yes, there are differences of opinion about who is evil and who is good, but here, I’m the one writing so I get to decide. When Gollum got more and more threatening, Gandalf’s cautionary words were to wait and see as Gollum may yet have a part to play leading us to our ultimate destination. I’m still deciding if Gollum is Giuliani, Stone, Eric, or Barr; there are just so many evil characters to choose from! Gandalf is taking on a more feminine appearance to me in the form of Nancy Pelosi (wise wise woman), but I’m also impressed with Adam Schiff. The Orcs are all the republicans in congress and Sauron, well, who else could it be? Evil eye? World domination? Please. It’s just too easy. I feel like I’m watching the drama unfold and await each episode figuring out who is Frodo and who is Sam. I hold onto the belief that this evil will “be maimed forever, becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows…” (The Return of the King) and all us hobbits and elves will live in peace having done our part to make sure evil is destroyed. Some will take the journey and some will keep the fires burning at home awaiting those words: “Well, I’m back.”
Love to all,