Angela was happy. Or so she told herself. She had everything she had dreamed of as a child, yet she still felt something was missing. She felt empty.
She had a fantastic husband, and they were going on their thirteenth wedding anniversary this summer. She had two fantastic kids, one girl and one boy, and they had both been sleeping through the night for ages now. Angela slept at night, in a comfortable bed, in a room she had decorated herself. She had the perfect dog to keep her company during the days and a couple of cats that liked to keep her company during the night.
The kids were now picking up after themselves, the dog was finally old enough to not chew everything in sight, and her husband completed her honey-do lists without complaint.
What more could she want? She found herself thinking this over more than she knew was necessary, but she wanted to figure out what she was yearning for, so she could attain it and feel whole again.
The kids were getting on her nerves. They ended up taking her spot on the couch, next to her husband, and all three looked so completely tranquil that she didn’t dare disturb them. They were old enough to follow conversations, and it disrupted their normal banter. Certain subjects were getting nicknames so the kids wouldn’t catch on. Eventually, answering or diverting around the kids’ never ending questions about subjects she wasn’t about to share with them became so draining she quit bringing them up altogether.
That created gaps in the communication with her husband. She would work hard to get the kids peacefully to bed, only to crawl into hers still feeling miles from her husband. She wanted to take his cell phone or lap top and toss it out the window. Notice me. Notice me! The one who labored for days to bring the babies into the world, the one who spent half the day washing your dishes and your clothes and folding your blankets and don’t even get me started about winding the charging equipment up that she despised.
Instead of relaying her frustration, it came out in short fits of anger and frustration. Instead of a polished conversation, she made little jabs and sarcastic comments, and her words came out short, compressed, and often cruel. When she hated the words that spewed out of her mouth, she would keep it in, and say nothing. Say nothing and increase the gap in communication he didn’t even acknowledge existed. After all, he was the one bringing home the paycheck, and the phone calls, texts and emails were all work related. Couldn’t she support him?
With a start she knew what she was missing. She was missing her husband’s undivided attention. She wanted him all to herself, just for a few waking hours. She wanted him to beg for her innermost thoughts, much as he did back when they were still dating. She wanted him to speak those beautiful, albeit corny, pickup lines. “Good morning, Sleeping Beauty” he used to say before children when they would lie in bed together wide awake, just relishing each other’s presence. She wanted him to deliver her a hot cup of coffee as she dragged her bad attitude out of bed on the workdays. She wanted him to sit down and eat a meal together, uninterrupted, freely sharing their dreams, ideas, and plans for their lives. But those days seemed long gone, and she was yearning for something that wasn’t currently realistic. Maybe he felt the same way? They hadn’t had a real conversation in far too long to even take a guess.
She decided instead of throwing a tantrum like one of her children in the toddler years, she would find a way to refuel the love. She started leaving him little love notes, which he always had cherished, she knew because he still had them in a shoe box in his closet. She started thanking him for the tasks he completed for her, his way of saying “I Love You.” She made sure to shut down her electronics when he arrived home, so she was available for the few minutes here and there that he was. She slept in her own bed, even when it was cold and felt empty, despite the sleeping form next to her.
She found a sitter for the kids, for the entire weekend. She couldn’t remember the last time they had gone on a real date, one without her two cherubs in tow. She nearly forgot how to act. She spent the day primping, shaving, rubbing in lotion, applying makeup, and pulling the tags off the little black dress she had bought years ago for the right occasion. She was going to remind him who she was tonight, and she was going to keep him all to herself, at least for the weekend.
She checked into a hotel, taking an extra room key with her back to her car. She drove out to her husband’s office, wrote the room number on the key along with a suggestive message, and stuck it in his car where she knew he would see but others would miss. She snuck back to the hotel, leaving all her electronics in her car, unmoored from the business of their every day lives, and waited for him. She was going to get his attention, and she thought this might do the trick….
He hustled out to his car, the cold winter wind chilling him straight to the bones. He tossed his briefcase, lunchbox, and a small project he would need to finish at home on the passenger seat. He ran around to the driver’s side, hopped in and started the rusty pile of junk up. It was an older model car, a cheap find at an auction. He had always wanted the biggest and the best, but life simply had not handed him that card.
He blew on his hands, attempting to warm them up as he waited for the car to heat up enough to drive safely. He would love a hot new car with remote start or heated seats, but that was not in the picture. He had a job he enjoyed, and he cheerfully showed up before six this particular morning to arrange everything in preparation for a day full of endless meetings, but it never paid enough to make his financial dreams a reality.
After marrying the love of his life, she became pregnant a few years in. The first baby had a significant health issue straight from birth, and they had dumped a significant amount of money into healthcare despite top of the line insurance. Baby number two came shortly thereafter, also with health issues, and they that would be their last. His wife had quit her job to raise their babies, and she had done a swell job of it.
Although it was fairly monotonous compared to the fast paced job she held prior, she took care in making sure the children knew they were loved. She sewed them their own special quilts, made their birthday parties unique and special, and packed their lunches each day now that the little one had started full time kindergarten.
He glanced down at the clock on the radio, it was nearly seven. He should have called to let her know he was running late, but there was no time between meetings and his last one had run late. He picked up the phone now, knowing she was going to be upset. She always overreacted to these things, making comments about being glad he wasn’t dead, or stuck in a ditch somewhere due to the icy roads, or killed by an ax murderer. He prepared for her icy remarks, but lately there had been none. She simply cut the phone call short and told him supper had been ready hours ago, he could help himself when he got home, making the half hour drive home torturous knowing a hot meal was ready and waiting to fill his groaning stomach.
She didn’t quite understand what it took to do his job. He had worked hard and moved up the corporate ladder, but he wasn’t high enough to yet have much flexibility in his schedule. He looked forward to getting home, his stomach grumbling on cue. He would take a bath and snuggle his kids to sleep on the couch. That would at least give her a few minutes to herself before she started all over again the next day.
Lately she had seemed so tired. Everything exhausted her. Just talking to him seemed to be a chore. He didn’t know what else to do as he was maxed out himself, running on five hours of sleep per night and still feeling like he was spinning his wheels. He worked hard, but it didn’t leave much time for anything else. When he crawled into bed tonight, she would take her time, watching tv and sleeping on the couch til the alarm sounded on his cell the next morning, indicating it was time to repeat the day.
When he reached down to put the cold car into drive, he noticed something in the cup holder. He reached down and immediately noticed his wife’s handwriting. After all these years, she still found ways to get his attention. He smiled as he thumbed the plastic room key and put it in his pocket. It seems he wasn’t going home tonight after all. He drove his crappy car to the hotel, parked it car in the lot, unmoored from the predictable routine of his life, and went up to show his wife that even after all these year he still had eyes only for her…