The more I write this blog, the more I learn about myself. Writing about the past has made me aware of certain attributes I possess. I have more than my share of personality traits that continue to pop up and show their ugly selves to the world. For example, I’m pushy. Oh so very pushy. I’m sure there’s a better word out there in the English Dictionary to describe this part of myself, but for now, let’s just call it pushy. I know I’m pushy because as I travel down memory lane I am reminded of how many times I let my “pushiness” take over, when rational thinking would have sufficed. I’m still pushy. I guess I’ll never learn. Some of my friends may use prettier words to make me feel better. They might say I’m passionate, or dramatic, or bold…but the truth is, I’m just plain pushy.
When I get an idea fixed into my head, there isn’t much anyone can do to change my course of action. Whether it’s a great idea or not isn’t the point, the point is that I have decided how something must be done, and I’m going to do it. The upside is that my word definitely means something. If I make a declaration to the world, I’ll follow through. The downside is once my head and heart are set on a goal, I have tunnel vision. I can’t see the forest through the trees. I could be falling down a rabbit hole and I wouldn’t even know it until I hit the bottom. There is also a strong possibility that if you happen to be in my vicinity, I’ll end up dragging you down that rabbit hole with me. If I had truly known these traits about myself two and a half years ago, then maybe I wouldn’t have demanded a trip to the Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show. But I was slightly more naïve then, and not so self aware…so demand I did. Which means, perhaps, I deserved the disaster that followed.
Instead of truly dealing with the fact that my marriage was becoming more unsalvageable every day, I chose to throw myself into anything “holiday themed” I could find. I couldn’t fully handle reality. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe if I was completely aware of the situation it would have swallowed me whole. Maybe I wouldn’t have recovered. Who’s to say? So, to help avoid the situation, I became a little holiday elf. If I had any free time at all, I wanted to fill it with Christmas cheer. And then I heard about the Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show. And for some odd reason I thought to myself, “This sounds like the perfect outing for my husband and me.” Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that this was not at all a good outing for us. This was a terrible idea. This would not end well. And you would be right.
The Botanical Gardens had a special event on certain evenings where adults got dressed up, frolicked through the gardens at night, drank champagne, and perused the holiday décor. This was what I wanted. This is the experience I wanted us to have. After begging, pleading, and just plan nagging; my husband agreed to buy the tickets and go with me. This momentous occasion was to occur on a Friday. We would leave work, meet at our apartment, and head to the Botanical Gardens from there. Now, this is where the story becomes hilarious. And truly, living through it was awful, but I can finally see the humor…so cheers to growth! Neither one of us had done proper research on where we should be going on this oh so special outing (which isn’t like me at all). I am expecting him to pull it together and do all the planning. He is expecting me to have everything laid out, because in reality, I am the only one of us who actually wants to have this adventure. All we know is a start time and that we are going to the Botanical Gardens…so we get on the subway bound for Brooklyn.
Only, we shouldn’t be going to Brooklyn. We should be going to the Bronx. For you non-New Yorkers, this is a very costly mistake. We lived on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. Going to Brooklyn would take an hour. Going to the Bronx would take an hour. By the time we realize our mistake, we are already in Brooklyn. It would take another two hours to turn around and head to the Bronx. No way in hell we will ever make it on time. We both know this. And yet, for some odd reason…we try to make it. We don’t speak. We simply change trains. We ride in silence. Time passes. We get off the train in the Bronx. It’s sleeting and dark and cold. We aren’t going to make it. I call it. In the late night, pitch-black streets of the Bronx; soaked and sad, I call it. Let’s go home.
We don’t fight. It is what it is. There isn’t anyone to blame. Riding back into Manhattan, I turn to him and say, “We aren’t going to make it, are we? We’re going to get a divorce.” And this is the moment where the power shifts. He gets a panicked expression on his face. “I don’t know,” he answers. And now we both know it is a possibility. It has been said out loud. Put out into the universe. In the coming weeks I will have wished I hadn’t said it. I will want to take it back. I will want to erase that moment of realization. But, in the words of Lynn Ahrens…”We can never go back to before.”
Two days later, we decide to try again. I have no idea why. I think he is trying to prove that he is not a failure. I am trying to prove that with enough hard work, we can save this marriage.Why we put so much stock into this experience is beyond me. We get up early on a Sunday morning and travel to look at the holiday trains. This also just so happens to be the day where every family in every borough has decided to take all their children to look at the trains as well. He is miserable. I am pretending not to be miserable. On our way home I look at him and say, “If we actually make it…if we stay together and live to see another Christmas, I promise I will never make you do this again.” He laughs. And for one brief moment, I see the man I love.
Psalms 66:17-20 “I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!’