Monday, September 13, 2004

The back-to-school state of mind

Meg wrote earlier today about the feeling that, no matter how old we are, the fall still feels like kick-it-in-gear time. That resolutions in January feel sorta lame, but resolutions in September - particularly, I will exercise more, I will drink more water, I will write more for myself - feel very apropos. Needless to say, I agree.

Darren and I turned over a bit of a new leaf of our own on Sunday. We used to hike a lot - in fact, the long, tangled, inquisitive conversations we'd have while hiking in New Mexico when we first met were, I think, a big part of what made us fall in love. But ever since acquiring The House (or, more aptly, The Mortgage) three years ago last month, hiking has taken a back seat to the business of our lives together - the lawn mowing, the painting, the renovating, the readying for guests and recovering from guests that comes from owning a 1920s bungalow on the Maine coast. (Incidentally, do people in other states moan about their houseguests the way we Mainers do? Maybe it's the short, precious summer... whining about the influx of people "from away" may as well be the state's official pastime.)

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that it's taken a concerted effort for us to spend deliberate time together. When you don't count all the time that we're both in the house at the same time, but instead start to tally the time we are here, together -- the numbers are surprisingly small.

All this came to a head in a big blowup argument on Saturday afternoon. I was feeling left out of his kayaking - which I'm not interested in at all, but was feeling a wee bit like, of all things, a kayaking widow (a la the golf widows of an earlier day... or at least a different social set than the one we swim about in). And I was feeling lonely -- I'd wanted to spend some of the gorgeous day outdoors, doing something fun. Instead I ran errands, picked up supplies for the dinner we planned for friends that night and fetched a friend's dog we were watching for the weekend. Then came home and moped on the couch, and practically spit at Darren when he walked in, salty, sunburned and happy, 90 minutes before L. and C. were to arrive.

As usual when we haven't argued for weeks, all sorts of things ended up being bandied about, largely our two perennial themes: Darren Doesn't Do Enough At Home and MC Doesn't Do Enough With Darren. There was an interesting moment in which I was sniping about his lack of interest, except when nudged and nagged, to do big chores like washing windows or scraping the g-ddamn trim on the g-ddamn garage -- and that I, in fact, find accomplishing tasks such as those satisfying. (Small aside, to salvage my husband's honor: In fact, Darren does 80% of the day-to-day cleaning and organization in our house, including laundry. It's the big chores that we squabble about.)

I swear this is getting back to Meg's point about turning a new leaf, or maybe an old leaf turning a new color? Anyway, we resolved to Be Better. And so we got up Sunday morning and picked out a hike in western Maine that we'd never done. Darren suggested the activity, and I picked the specific hike, 2.5 miles roundtrip up, and down, a steep but rewarding trail. We resisted our eternal temptation to invite friends along, bought ourselves some lousy sandwiches and fabulous cookies and headed an hour west. It was a lovely, relaxing afternoon, followed by leftovers and soft serve (a root beer float for me) while watching Sense and Sensibility. We barely even talked with anyone else the whole day, and it was exactly what we needed.

And, on tap for next weekend: Scraping the garage! We can hardly wait.