It’s a running joke in our friend circle that I’m impossible to speed up (surprise, surprise) and Ken is impossible to slow down. A single glance at an empty calendar square and the man’s found a way to fill it with four conference calls, three house projects, two oil changes, one heaping pot of curry and a dog groom all before the sun goes down.
Once, I spotted him doing push-ups while negotiating a contract, and well, that’s a whole new level of multi-tasking for me.
And so, when last summer found us both home and fairly free, the calendar split wide open, the two of us sitting in the dining room, me dishing out Greek salads, I was wholly unsurprised to hear this before his fork hit the first cucumber:
Hey. Can I build a guesthouse in the backyard?
My temptation is always to settle him down, to slow him a bit, to say Relax, the kids will only be young once! Let’s enjoy this season together! and yet, you just can’t deny the man a hammer and a 2×4. He’d find something to build, if not a guesthouse than a dog duplex, a gated entryway, another basement.
Might as well pass the man his drill and call it a day.
And so, this winter, we didn’t see as much of him as we’d liked, and when we did, he was in and out of the garage covered in any manner of layers – drywall dust, insulation, coveralls to shield the chilled temps. I’d become so used to peering at his safety goggles that his eyeglasses suddenly seemed small, miniscule, when I’d spot them on the nightstand.
I’ve come to realize in recent years that what we love about the ones we love is rarely uncomplicated. It doesn’t always make sense, doesn’t always line up on paper. I’ve long admired Ken’s drive (who else wins an Emmy at 19?), and part of that means accepting the times his projects take precedence over our time together – as a family, as ourselves.
Loving him has meant cheering on his far-off dreams, even when they eclipse my own down-to-earth pragmatism.
Here, then, is how our marriage has worked in this season: He, on a ladder climbing to the moon. Me, holding the bottom rung for steadying.
I suppose I’m saying all of this to note that, often, when we see finished projects on this side of the screen or another, it’s tempting to gloss over the irksome details. The times sickness took over and construction was shelved for weeks, multiplying the timeline along the way. The small budgets shattered in favor of sanity. The miscalculations, misfirings. The patience required of us both, the bending of our own wills.
In short: it was ever worth it.
While the space isn’t yet finished, it’s close, and I’ve been sneaking in to fluff the nest here and there. Each time I do, a throw pillow or ice bucket in hand, I survey the room and see many happy nights ahead in this secret getaway – more birthdays to celebrate, more family to host, more glasses to clink, more life to live.
And I realize, of course, I’ve got it all backwards. Ken never once meant to climb to the moon. He only wanted to bring a bit of it closer to us.
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