Beetle or Butterfly?

Okay, so we’ve been dealing with this leased car for months.

Andrew leased a car for the person who is now his ex-wife. There is much to this story that is simply too sad or too libelous too print.

Suffice it to say the lease term ended this month. We had to hire a lawyer who had to hire a private investigator to find said ex-wife and said car, a VW Beetle.

She turned the car over to us after, in my opinion, jerking us around a bit. It was damaged and had 14,000 more miles than were allowed on the lease agreement.

A week later, the car was, to quote Dickens, dead as a doornail.

Even the tow truck guy couldn’t jump it, so we had to tow it to the VW dealership in Bend.

It also became increasingly clear that we were going to have to buy the car because it would cost us more to pay out the lease than to purchase it.

That would have been okay, except that we don’t want or need the car. We have two perfectly good, perfectly old, perfectly paid-off cars.

Well, we did. We still have those two cars, but now we have a VW Beetle, too. In an attempt to change its image (at least in our eyes), Andrew christened the car the Butterfly. We decided we liked her, with her stylish little look and her stereo we can plug the iPod and the MP3 player into.

Alas, some things aren’t meant to last. The Butterfly isn’t flying.

We tried to take her to the store the other night, and she simply sputtered. This after being given a new battery and more money than we want to admit.

She is, apparently, determined to kill our Memorial Day weekend, the only time we can get her to the dealership. (Because, sadly, they are the only ones who can work on our delicate car.)

But the saga of the Butterfly has taught me a few things about my husband.

First, he blames himself for everything and constantly second-guesses himself.

Actually, I already knew that.

Second, and more important, he is gracious even to people who have wronged him. He believes the best about everyone but himself, and if he will treat a person who squandered his money and his property with forgiveness, I know I have nothing to fear in the years ahead.

Spring Break alone

Andrew is in Chelan with his parents, and I am here.

I would feel better about being here if I didn’t have a raging case of PMS and a compelling need to figure out how to make more money.

The air is gushing out of the little financial cushion we had made together.

A week ago we were  looking at houses, and now we are trying to figure out how to pay for a car we don’t need or want because to get rid of it would be more expensive than keeping it.

And my unemployment money is gone. I am working, but not enough. The most depressing bit is that I would have to work full-time at minimum wage just to cover what I was making on unemployment. I’m not frustrated that I would have to work full-time, mind you. I’m just staring square in the face the fact that I left a good-paying job (however much I hated it) to work 12 hours a week as a secretary and with no prospects for anything better.

All this has descended like a cloud on me, and for the first time in a long time, I am alone trying to see some sunshine.

There is nothing he could do about it, but he always listens, and he knows how to make me feel better. But not today.

missing Andrew

My mother just had hip surgery, and since I’m the unemployed daughter at the moment, I offered to help with her recovery. So here I am, a couple of hundred miles away, missing my husband.

I don’t think absence makes the heart grow fonder exactly; it makes it more appreciative.

I miss holding hands while we pray over meals and before we go to sleep at night. I miss the day to day encouragement and patience and gratitude for every tiny thing I do, and the willingness to let go of the things I don’t do but should … like laundry.

I love my parents, and I’m glad to help, but I already feel ready to go home. To my home.

hitting the wall

I’m really glad I married the right guy.

The last few months have been hard. Not always hard, but often. Andrew’s working crazy hours and I am trying unsuccessfully to find work that will produce an income.

I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know what I’m doing here.

And last night it all hit at once.

And my beautiful husband listened and listened and listened.

And then we went and bought Coke to add to the rum in the cupboard, and we sat down and wrote out our dreams.

I got stuck.

I have always been able to articulate what I want, but this time I was lost. I don’t know what I want. But I spend a lot of time fighting what I don’t want.

So Andrew called my bluff and  my fears what they were.

And he gave me a deadline to finish to my novel.

I needed that.

The wall has eroded as quickly as it was built (quicker, in fact). In its place is purpose. Again.

sick husband

Not that kind of sick.

Andrew is coughing and his poor eyes look like he can’t focus on anything.

I thought he should stay home today, but I understand why he didn’t. I wouldn’t have, either.

It reminds me that sometimes I just need to keep my thoughts to myself. Not because he doesn’t want to hear from me. But because he doesn’t need to.

He was a fully functioning adult before I came along, and one of the things I like most about him is his confidence.

So why do I try so hard to control him? And everything else in my life?

Maybe because everything else in my life feels out of control.

But that’s no excuse.

Besides, I don’t want Andrew to be a copy of me. One is enough.

grumpy before church

We had a potluck at church Sunday, and I was planning to make something. In my happiness at finally finishing cookies for the bazaar, I forgot the potluck.

In the middle of the night Saturday, I had an inspired idea. I would get up and make crock pot mashed potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese and chives, and all would be well.

I assumed Andrew had set his alarm for 7:30 a.m., but I’m not sure why. He usually sets the alarm, although I doubt he ever sets it that early for Sunday.

I was shocked when we didn’t wake up until 8:30. Church starts at 9:30, there was snow on the ground, and I desperately needed a shower.

There would be no potato-making this morning.

I was whining about this to Andrew, who helpfully said, “Why don’t we just bring chips?”

We had a bag of Kettle Chips in the cupboard, unopened, so this was a logical solution.

I was not in a logical mood, however.

“That’s what you do when you’re single,” I said.

Which was true.

Countless times as a broke singleton, I had spent my last pennies on a bag of chips so as not to show up empty-handed to a potluck.

But now I am married. We have a livable income. I did not need to bring chips.

I suggested stopping by the store. To which my  husband replied, “Okay, then let’s not eat breakfast.”

I fumed over this comment in the shower, trying to figure out what he was getting at.

I knew the potluck was earlier than most, and I could see why we would skip lunch, but I needed breakfast. I figured this was his attempt at making sure I wasn’t having too many calories.

I have already given up coffee for the most part, but I still need some sort of fuel in the morning.

Was he trying  to save money? Please. A bowl of cereal wasn’t going to kill us.

By the time I got dressed and dried my hair, it was 9:15, and I was more frustrated.

It was time to go. We wouldn’t have time to go to the store, much less down even the smallest breakfast.

I didn’t even want to go.

I grabbed the bag of chips and a Clif bar of Andrew’s that he has to help him get through long days at school.

But we got in the Jeep and Andrew, ever his sweet self, cleaned the windows of snow while I warmed up the car, it suddenly dawning on me when he was finished that I could have helped.

He got in and told me how he was thinking how blessed he was to have a woman who loved him and cared about him in the car, getting it warmed up and ready to go.

We split the Clif bar and hit the snowy streets.

Then I decided instead of being angry, I would ask him what he was thinking by wanting to deny me breakfast.

And, of course, there was logical thought that had nothing to do with me.

My husband gets hungrier when he’s only had a little than when he has nothing at all. He didn’t want to sit through church with his stomach growling, and he knew we didn’t have time for a full breakfast.

That was it.

I was being silly.

We enjoyed the potluck despite our meager contribution, and we had an even better time caroling at nursing home and the hospital.

We were reminded of how truly blessed we are to share our meals — and our lives — together.

Decorating for Christmas

Andrew asked me if I wanted to just decorate the house without him since we didn’t get to it this weekend like we’d planned.

But I have decorated by myself for Christmas for much too long, and I told him so.

So last night he dutifully helped sort the branches of the tree, untangle the lights, and put up more ornaments than he could have imagined would fit in one cardboard box.

He helped put all kinds of snowmen in the living room and found spots for cinnamon-scented pinecones.

The house is lovely.

But he was so tired. There was a moment where he nearly fell asleep holding the lights.

And he ended up staying up too late working, partly because I conscripted him.

He tells me he’s glad we did it together, that it was a welcome break, a good memory, but I wonder.

What would the harm have been in waiting another week, holding out until Saturday when he was rested and didn’t have to squeeze in deciding where to put stockings between prepping for tomorrow.

I’m not sure. But next year, I hope I’ll be as sensitive to his needs as he was to mine.