Wednesday, September 19, 2012

In the Firelight

JP likes fire. As a child he used to set army men on fire and drop them off his roof, and though he is violently anti-smoking, he firmly believes one can never own too many lighters. I bought him a gas grill for the new house for Father's Day, and while he likes it, he misses having an excuse to use lighter fluid. I didn't realize quite how much until he saw some on a TV commercial a few weeks ago and I heard him sigh and say, in a voice filled with longing, "I miss lighter fluid." Only JP could that much emotion into a response to a commercial with dancing hot dogs.

We inherited a freestanding fire pit from the previous owners and now that the temperature is finally dipping below 70 at night, JP is using any excuse to fire it up. Last night, after we put the kids to bed, he made a roaring bonfire (using the tree limbs he cut up last Friday and a wee bit of unnecessary lighter fluid) and we spent about 2 hours sitting out there together. He played his guitar, I sat and sipped my wine. We chatted between songs, laughing at silly things the kids had done, wondering about bigger things we can't help but wonder about. It was the eve of JP's last day at work; as he noted, "this time tomorrow I'll be unemployed." And last night, in the firelight, it was easy to grab his hand, kiss his lips, and say, "it's going to be fine." I believe it. I think he does too.

He drove to Austin today to say goodbye to co-workers and turn in his computer. He could have mailed it, but he really liked his colleagues, nearly all of whom are doing all they can to help him find another job, and he wanted to say goodbye in person. He called at 2:30 to say he was on his way home, and while he still sounded sad and a little down- no surprise after turning in his credentials and doing the exit interview with HR- he also sounded really glad he'd driven over.

At 4:00, I looked up from my bank records and decided I didn't want him to come home to an empty house and our planned dinner of leftovers. Why had I earned all those credit hours two weeks ago if not to use them? I logged out of the computer and raced home, determined to make his favorite homemade meal (pasta with tomato cream sauce, garlic bread, salad, chocolate chip cookies), even if it required a stop at the grocery store in 3.5" heels that had started giving me blisters 3 hours earlier. Love, it's hobbling through the aisles of Kroger to buy heavy cream and chocolate chips.

He came home to the sauce simmering and the cookies baking. He'd picked up the kids, who were beyond thrilled with the cookie situation ("Is it someone's birthday mommy?!" asked Landon). They ran off to play in the living room and I hugged JP and waited for him to talk.

"I can't believe I don't have a job tomorrow."

"I know, I'm sorry."

"I hate that I'm not going to have a job."

"I know, but you're going to get another one."

"The cookies smell good."

"They do."

We ate at our little table in the sun room. Claire got pasta sauce all over her face. Landon asked every 5 seconds if he was going to be allowed to eat a cookie. JP did the dishes; I supervised the kids' bath. We did the tickle-pile-on-cuddle game our bed, which is always unfair because JP isn't ticklish but the other three of us are extremely so. JP sang Claire's goodnight song request of Wheels on the Bus, adding lions, tigers, and doggies to the mix. Claire looked skeptical, but barked along by the second verse. The kids were tucked in, kisses were given and blown again from the doorway, JP went out to indulge in a bit of pyromania.

Later, we sat by his fire, him with a guitar, me with my glass of wine, and enjoyed the glow and light breeze. I still hate that he has to go through this process again- the looking, the applying, the interviewing, the rejecting; I hate the way I know he feels about his newly unemployed state; I still dread a day he finds out he didn't get a job he wanted and worry that, like last time, I will at times not be able to find the words to make him feel better.

But that is later and this is now, and in the firelight I know to my soul what everyone else has been telling me for the last 10 days- that we're good, JP and me and our little family, and even if it gets worse first, it's also going to get better, and we can take on just about anything as long as we're together.


  1. Hold on to that feeling!

  2. I love your definition of love. Thinking good thoughts for your wonderful family.

  3. You are an awesome person, and an AMAZING writer. Just so great at conveying what you all are going through. As for me, I am having a REALLY hard time proving I'm not a robot.

  4. My husband and I have this thing we say to each other when times get tough. It kind of goes like this: "Who's The Team? WE ARE THE TEAM!"

    Him:You know why everything is going to be okay?
    Me: Because we are The Team?
    Him: "WE ARE THE TEAM!"

    It comes from a, um, tense discussion we had as newlyweds. I found out he was talking to his best friend/ the best man at our wedding about an issue with our sex life that wasn't actually an issue; it was something we just hadn't talked about enough. He thought when it came up that I was never going to be up for something when all I meant was that I wasn't game right then. Anyway. In that discussion, I was like, "Why would you talk to Best Friend about this instead of me?" And he was like, "Well, Best Friend's Wife refuses to try Sexy Thing, too." and I was all, "WHOA, Buddy. I did not say I refused. Plus, you and Best Friend are not the team. WE ARE THE TEAM." He cracked up; we raced to the bedroom, and now it's a thing we say.

    Anyway, YOU AND JP ARE THE TEAM! Everything will be okay because you are The Team!

    You know, my parents have been married for almost 40 years. They are A Team, too. (But not the A-Team.) I would say that their marriage has been rocked once a decade to its core. Now, it's never been rocked by death of a child or infidelity, both of which really test a marriage. But it was rocked by deciding what religion to raise my sister and me as kids (they had a plan when we were babies; it changed); a money crisis in the 90s, and dealing with three elderly parents all needing full-time care at around the same time, two of whom had Alzheimer's. After every crisis that rocked their marriage, they came back stronger than ever before. When they renewed their vows after 25 years, they sobbed through the vows. They said later that they were thinking of all the times they had shared in sickness and health, for richer or poorer. They said their vows meant more at 25 years than they did as newlyweds.

    So, yeah. In my bloggy armchair opinion, your and JP's marriage is fine. You're just living your wedding vows. This the "For poorer" part. And guess what? There will be a time when he doesn't have the words to comfort you. There will be a time when you're the one up a tree. But it will be okay, because YOU ARE THE TEAM.