Got borders and boundaries? As hard as I’ve worked to instill these necessary behavioral guardrails, every so often I will be made aware that my practice of “waiting in the cupboard” has resurfaced. If this is one of your challenges as well, simply picture the blue can and remember: you’re NOBODY’S spam. Sometimes we just need a reminder. This post re-run is mine.
Like the late Rodney Dangerfield, Spam does not get any respect. As far as you may be concerned, it lives its life there in a can in your cupboard, just waiting for the day when you’re craving some sort of meat in your sandwich only to find nary a speck in your household. So you open your cupboard and spy its shiny blue container, welcoming you with open arms. “I won’t let you down. I’ve just been waiting to come alive by allowing you to fry me up, slather me with mustard and throw me down between two slices of bread, where you will then consume the very essence of my being, wash me down with a glass of milk and not acknowledge me again until you get another craving that leads you back to my shiny blue container.” And you see, Spam is cool with that. That’s the thing about Spam- it’s just too damn easy. But that’s okay because it’s Spam.
People, on the other hand, regardless of how they may appear to you, are not. They are complex individuals, ideally changing gradually and metamorphosing into more unabbreviated versions of themselves over time. Unlike Spam, you can not leave them to sit indefinitely in their shiny can expecting them to be there waiting for you to seek them out during your next moment of desolation, when a craving for something with substance, something to take the edge off your inner emptiness leads you back to the familiar comfort they so freely offer. Spam will do that. People should not. Not because they can’t be counted on, not because they’re not loyal, and certainly not because they are unfeeling or lacking in love, but simply because they require more for themselves. Sometimes it just takes them a while to own it.
As hubby and I celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary, I ask that you visualize the following: a massive cathedral, a radiantly coiffed, designer-gowned bride and elegantly tuxedo-ed groom, a ballroom reception with a champagne flowing fountain and a diamond studded wedding cake. Now, let’s talk about our big day. A ceremony at my parent’s house, mail-order wedding gown, the wedding march playing on a squeaky tape recorder and a reception following at the local firehall with about 150 of our closest friends and relatives. The food was buffet style (delicious-made by the women’s auxiliary, naturally) and included beef on weck (or is it wick? to hell with it—it was roast beef on rolls) green bean casserole, seven-layer salad and all your usual hometown wedding day buffet offerings. The bride was barely 24 with the roundness still in her cheeks and big, banana-colored eighties hair, with a heart filled to bursting with happiness. The groom was also 24, mustached and handsome, sure that he wanted to be married, a little less so about the wedding, but willing to muddle through it to get to the rest of their lives. Which is where we’re at now: the rest of our lives. Gone is the big haired girl with the wide-eyed expectations, and the mustached young man with the self-assuredness that comes from being in your early 20’s and certain that you know it all. In it’s place stands a pair of road wearied travelers, humbled by the events that have happened throughout their lives. Sharing joy in the blessed events they have witnessed and sorrow throughout the trials they have endured. There have been times of complete love and adoration when it seemed impossible to get enough of each other, as well as moments of intense anger and hatred so real that it seemed impossible to get far enough away. There have been moments with the quiet peacefulness of looking up at each other over something, anything, with a smile and knowing what the other is smiling about because you’ve grown up together and you know the other’s story. The young bride of my past would have been heartbroken if she’d known back then that it wouldn’t be perfect, but 55 year old me is finding out, as she must continue to find out, again and again it seems, that that’s because what’s real and worthwhile is also messy. Life is messy. And then you step back, you clean up the mess, you put your best foot forward and you keep going. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a partner on the other side of the bucket. I got lucky. Happy Anniversary hubby. Sign me on for another year.