22 May 2013

Goodbye to The Office

The Office opening music switches my brain into an escape mode.  Those notes calm my spirit with the relief I imagine a drug addict gets from that initial inhalation. 

A bit of an extreme comparison?

Maybe, but The Office came into my life when I needed escape and for a while it was my drug of choice.  I became acquainted with Jim, Pam, Michael, Dwight, and the rest of the gang while walking through dark days of losing babies.  In those long evenings after we put Asher to bed, the hours until I could go to bed seemed to last forever.  

And so Walter introduced me to what he pitched as an American version of a popular British show about an office.  I worked in an office, I got the humor of the cubicle life so we let ourselves get hooked. 

We watched The Office in our upstairs home office next to P.Rick, the adorable hedgehog.  Walter sat in the rolling office chair and I lounged on our nursery chair which had been moved into the office simply so we could watch The Office on our computer.  In those old fashioned days, we only had a desktop and couldn't stream Internet to our tv.  That was the tv that required a risk of electrocution if you wanted to turn it on because the power button had broken off and we had to stick a finger in to reach that little on-off button.  

Ah yes, The Office has been part of us for a long time.  Back then I could easily relate to the drudgery felt by returning to an enclosed office space surrounded by people with all kinds of idiosyncrasies   Of course I was the only normal one in those cubes.  I compared Michael Scott to previous bosses I had endured (of course I am not referring to Bill or Jon) and loved the parody of a life I knew well.

Laughing out loud felt so good.  Somehow the show made me laugh out loud even after Michael Scott left and even when it reverted to low humor.  It was that absence of my laughing that may have cued Walter in to my awake (or not awake) status.  We learned how to watch tv together through our years of watching The Office.  

I will quietly admit here that I sometimes struggle to stay awake through tv shows.  Over the years and depending on his mood, Walter has taken a variety of approaches to this idiosyncrasy of mine. If he is feeling sweet, he will gently rub my arm and remind me to wake up.  But the most common strategy of his is to pause the show and wait until I protest.  If I quickly cry out he knows I'm  awake.  If the pause lasts for longer than 10 seconds without hearing from me he knows it's time to turn the show off.  

At times his strategy turned vindictive when he gave me a brief warning that he planned to delete the show as soon as it was over. This warning was explained as an opportunity for me to watch and not miss out later. It still seems rather cruel though because before the last words of the show are spoken, he has quickly stopped the action and deleted it - hoping to teach me a lesson that I better stay awake or speak up.  Yes, The Office has been part of the evolution of our marriage and how we interact with each other.  

It's a show that now joins Seinfeld as somehow holding a special place in my heart like a childhood and college friend.  Someone who I connected with at a deeper level but for whatever reason the connection has changed and time has marched us into different places.

Emotionally I am in a different state than when we first needed the shot of humor The Office gave us.   P.Rick is no longer around to watch with us, we have upgraded to a tv free of electrocution risk, and we now sit together on a couch. 

Along with Jim and Pam we had babies, learned to work through our marriage, and have come to this point where it is time to move on and say goodbye to The Office.

Thanks for the guaranteed laughs.

09 May 2013

The courting sneeze

Walter covered his mouth and nose, held up his hand and sneezed.  The walls didn't shake and I didn't jump. Our conversation continued as I thanked him for not letting loose with a full-blown bellowing sneeze. 

In that loving moment, he named it his "courting sneeze."  This sneeze is the one he used regularly until a year or so into our marriage.  Now he uses the unrestrained free for all "AACHOO" that you would imagine comes from a bear.  I jump, shudder, and hold on to objects so they don't fall to the ground.

Ok, so they aren't really that loud or terrifying, but there is definitely a difference between the courting sneeze and the 10-year married sneeze. 

My brother and sister and Walter's sister are all engaged and preparing to be married in the next six months. At the same time Walter and I are preparing to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. 

Since I'm not the one thinking about the wedding every second of the day and I am looking forward to showers, seeing family, and celebrating these great joys I've had more time to think about their marriages. I can't think of a lot of wise advice to give. Life has been too busy to analyze what makes it work. Not much advice other than the practicalities of what life is actually like once the courting sneezes are gone.

Our courting time was amazing. 
Our wedding was beautiful. 

When we got home from the honeymoon and settled into White Place, I thought the work was done. The wedding stresses were behind us, we had picked out and were settling into our new home and I was ready for the blissful married life to begin.

Many parts of our married life have been blissful, but many parts of this married life have been about adjusting to things like the disappearance of the courting sneeze. Sometimes I miss that sweetness, the formality, the politeness, the cautiousness.  That time was special but it was for a season. 

While I have nostalgic thoughts about the attention and wooing of the dating and engagement period of our relationship, there is much security and comfort in the love of the 10-year married stage.

I love our comfortable routines, his steady strength, a growing relationship history, timeless and tireless emotional support, and I love that we can share in the mundaneness of things like diapering and bathing kids.

I now live with and love the man who relegates the courting sneeze to special sweet flashbacks of a time past.

I embrace the Walter who feels comfortable enough to share with me the 10 year married sneeze.

And I guess I will hold on to my head as I brace for what the 20, 30, 40, 50... year married sneezes will be like!