Last night my husband offered, insisted even, on coming with me to the late hour pick up of our daughter. I’d been pestering her for the exact pick up location all day but could only get a vague “at such and such intersection” response. We found the intersection, waited, and my husband and I went back and forth over which street of the intersection we should be on. Then– like a chorus of angels appearing from the sky– the bus pulled up from nowhere and parked directly in front of us.
Remember, my daughter is only half-sane these days, so I was immediately concerned she wouldn’t see us and just stay on the bus to the next stop some miles away. “You should get out,” I urged my husband, “So she’ll see you.”
“I’m not going anywhere until I see her. This may not even be the bus.”
What other salt-covered charter bus would illegally park at a city bus stop, at the designated intersection?
“Don’t be ridiculous, it’s the bus, get out there so she doesn’t stay on.” (We too were illegally parked, so as the driver I was reluctant to exit the car.)
I don’t know why, but this really set him off. “Why don’t you try using logic,” he hissed, “Use LOGIC for once. It may not even be the bus.”
Jesus Christ, since when am I married to Spock? Anyway, Spock would never be so seethingly condescending (for the record, if I had to marry a Star Trek character, I wouldn’t marry either Spock or Kirk– I’d go for one of the guys in engineering). This is not the man I married. The man I married was funny, NICE, considerate, thoughtful. Yes, he was occasionally moody and withdrawn, but rarely. But he’s been in this crabby mood for months lately. Normally I ignore him and stay totally mute in the face of his occasional nastiness, but as I watched him begrudgingly get out and trudge through the snow I felt whatever silver cord holding me back snap.
Our daughter wandered out of the bus and stood on the sidewalk staring around. My husband took her by the arm and she motioned toward the luggage compartment. When they were in the car I unleashed the tirade. “You are insufferable, condescending, arrogant, pompous, and rude!”
“Sorry mom,” said my daughter, whom I hadn’t seen in four days.
“Not you, him!”
“Pompous,” said my husband. “Now there’s something to live up to.”
I bit my tongue the whole way home. Silently entered the house and locked myself in my room, sat in the dark wondering how I got to this point in life where I’m browbeaten on a daily basis by my supposedly dearly beloved. As all the long married people out there know, marriages have their ups and downs, and over the years, anytime my husband was mean to me he would come around quickly– usually within minutes or hours– and apologize and ingratiate himself.
So as I sat there, fuming and miserable, it occurred to me that perhaps he’s worried sick about our daughter, as am I. Because I can tell you, it’s sure taken a toll on my state of mind and mood over the past year. When I see her sick, or acting crazy, I feel the hand of fate in a vicious grip over my heart. I’ve read that challenges and crises either strengthen a person or tear them apart. This one, it would seem, is tearing us apart.
After hiding in my room (not that anyone was looking for me) I went upstairs to check on our daughter. She was pacing around.
“Did you eat? I thought you were starving.”
“Oh yeah,” she said, and proceeding to pile a plate with food I’d cooked that evening. “Harvard was pretty,” she said, “Though some of the buildings are run down. But the church was beautiful! What kind of church is it?”
“I thought it was Catholic, there were Latin words.”
“Harvard is definitely not a Catholic university.”
My mind went to the other girls getting off the bus, the other girls I see at pick up and drop off from school; they all look so healthy, normal, perfect. Don’t get me wrong: I love my children for who they are, not in spite of who they are, but it’s a little twist of the knife when I see those girls gliding through life. I’m sure they have their struggles and sadnesses, but the combed hair, clean clothes, strong stride and general wherewithal is in stark contrast to the teenage girl trundling around our house. It’s a huge relief to have her back home.