Sunday, August 5, 2012

further up and further in

In the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia, after all the action has been done and everyone who is going to get into the barn is in there (spoiler alert!), it turns out that for some people the inside of the barn is actually a bigger, better version of Narnia itself. And then this big mob of those people get all together and they go further in to the new big Narnia and find another bigger, newer, even more wonderful Narnia in there. Somebody, I forget who but maybe a centaur or that flying horse, keeps urging the group onward shouting "further up and further in!" or something like that.

I'm pretty sure C.S. Lewis was constructing some sort of metaphor to represent heaven. At least that's the popularly accepted view of most of those books. But the reason I'm thinking about this story is that it sort of reminds me of being married, or what being married can be like. Maybe. As in if we are lucky we get to be one of the people who experiences it as bigger, better, and more real the further we get.
J & S at the paradise that is Grandma and Bobo's house

Andrew and I got away together this past weekend for the first time in a long time. We dropped the girls off at his parents place and drove to the coast for two nights in a sweet little hotel with the ocean outside our window and free bikes for checkout at the front desk.  The whole time felt like a long sweet montage of all the reasons I really like being partnered with my spouse.  On the one hand there was all the stuff we did while we were there: horseback riding on the beach, a couple hours at the local video arcade playing silly games for tickets and using them to buy candy, biking through the sand dunes with the sea breeze and sunshine making our skin bright red, reading in bed, watching the Olympics, eating ice cream/fudge/candy like unruly toddlers, racing to the beach so we could stand on the sand and watch the sun drop below the horizon. Tons of great stuff that would look amazing in a cheesy video montage. And on the other hand there's the stuff that wouldn't show up on camera - how grateful I am to be seven years into a marriage with this guy and still know deep in my bones that he's my number one favorite person in the world to hang out with.  To no small degree because I can't think of many other people who would be down for a weekend of crazy cheesy laziness like the one we just had. Seriously people, there are a gazillion hikes we could have gone on but there were also three ice cream shops and a candy store so...our priorities were set.

when I say "biking through the dunes" I should clarify that there is a paved biking path. 
I won't lie to you, internet. Everybody says stuff about how the seventh year of marriage is a tough one.  I was determined that we would move through the supposed "7 year itch" unscathed because we are awesome. And so I learned that what I really need is to stop being determined about stuff like that because I think it just makes the inevitable stuff worse. Not us I think loftily to myself, like I've never heard of foreshadowing.  All to say that the good old ups and downs of married life have been a little down-i-er in the past few months than this candy-loving duo is used to. Some sort of transition has been going on. We don't have any of the same atoms we had when we got married, or something pseudo-science-y like that and its been messing with our mojo.

To return to my metaphor, it's like we've been standing outside that dingy doom-filled barn in that much beloved children's fantasy novel. We kick and scream and ultimately somebody blindfolds us and throws in to the next part of married life, the part after kids arrive and somebody works nights all the time, the part where we never see each other and when we do one of us is usually too tired to talk, the part where I wonder to myself what seven-years-four-months-ago-just-married-me would have thought if she could see us now and feel sort of sad and dull about that.

But then we take the blindfolds off and look. And defying all expectation it's even bigger, better, and possibly more beautiful in here than it was on the other side of the door. The landscape is the same - silly, comfortable, filled with geeky obsessions and clumsy jokes that no one else would really think are funny and a willingness to embark on ridiculous projects just because I read about it on the internet somewhere. We are still loved by friends and family both as individuals and as a pair. But when we stop and pay attention - a challenge in and of itself - we see that despite everything what we've built is a love that is somehow bigger, better, and more beautiful.  It has expanded to include the two sweet people we've been gifted as daughters, and powers a lot more these days then it ever has before, with less maintenance. It is something worth celebrating.

I knew all this stuff before we went away this weekend. We've been working on getting back in touch with the good stuff for a while. Our weekend was like icing on the cake and, as Andrew would tell you, the icing is my favorite part.


  1. This is truly lovely. In the midst of all this testing and change and adjustment in our marriage/partnership here too, and it's wonderful to be reminded of those chances to check in with each other and get along in a way that only you two know how.

  2. It's uncanny how often I personally relate to your writing. Tim and I just celebrated our 9th anniversary yesterday, and it does bigger and better. But it changes, too. And that's okay. We're having a night without the kiddos tomorrow night, and as you put it, that will be the icing.

  3. This is beautiful, needed and... well just awesome.