Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Shoulder-to-Shoulder Time

One of the ways in which Nate and I mesh well is that we have very similar ideas of how to spend a vacation. I am a low-energy person and Nate tends towards that as well, especially when he's jet-lagged and coming off a crazy few weeks at the squadron in Korea. He travelled for 24 hours straight to arrive in Colorado Springs half an hour before he left (yay time zones that turn us into time travelers!) and we've had a wonderful time being lazy during his eleven-day stay. I love having very few fixed engagements, doing whatever we feel like doing (as long as that works with Sean's needs.)

Sean is delighted that Daddy is home– he couldn't wait to show Nate everything at Grammy and Grandpa's house, from all his toys, to the electronic piano, to the refrigerator, which is special because that's where the current love of his life– cheese– lives. The day after Nate returned we moved into an Airbnb in Colorado Springs so that we could have our own space for Nate's visit– and I have had a week and a half of living my fantasy of the three of us living in my hometown.

We're belatedly celebrating our fifth anniversary, and though I have lots of different marriage thoughts floating around in my head, the marriage practice upon which I wish to dwell for a moment is the comfortable companionableness that Nate and I have dubbed "shoulder-to-shoulder-time." I can't remember if we got the name from a book or made it up ourselves, but it is a practice which, though I remember resisting when we were first married, I've now grown to love very much.

Shoulder-to-shoulder time is simply being together without necessarily interacting– such as lying at opposite ends of the couch, each reading a book, or watching a movie together, or being in the same room while Nate plays guitar and I write. I initially disliked shoulder-to-shoulder time at the beginning of our marriage because I had the weird idea that if we weren't directly interacting in conversation or doing a specific activity together, then the time together wasn't really valuable. I have since changed my mind. Nate and I are both introverts, and conversation isn't always necessary for us to enjoy each other's presence.

That's really what shoulder-to-shoulder time is about– presence. It is a recognition of the mystery of us being separate people with our own identities, and yet simultaneously being made one by marriage. It is a kind of intimacy different from conversation, or making love, but in my mind the quality of intimacy is simply different, not lesser. I enjoy the quiet affection, the comfortable companionship that makes up so much of day-to-day life. I like having a love that is "broken-in," to quote John Mayer. In The Four Loves C.S. Lewis talks about how exhausting it would be if lovers were constantly in the throes of the kind of love we generally experience at the onset of a relationship– all fireworks and tension and a hurricane of up-and-down emotions. Perhaps it is shoulder-to-shoulder time that helps to mature married couples into being friends and companions, as well as lovers– the kind of partnership in which making love and making dinner are both held in high esteem, where you feel that no matter what may be happening, you belong together.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sean Christmas Card Photos– Outtakes

Christmas in Colorado

In spite of not being on Facebook, I still want to share some pictures and things about our family here and there. So here's a picture post (with helpful captions) of some of our holidays here in Colorado!

Sean and his bucking bronco– a present from Gran and Grandaddy McCaskey. Of course he wanted to sit on it while he ate his Cheerios!

The little woodland tree in Sean's and my room– courtesy of my older sister's family, who cuts down their Christmas trees in the mountains every year. I made the paper chains and put all my homemade ornaments on it for a rustic look.

Mom and Dad with the presents I wrapped so beautifully for them! :-)

Growing up, we always had a sibling picture on this old couch before we opened our stockings. My brother Jeremy came to spend Christmas, so we could still have a couch picture with two of the five siblings (and Sean, of course.) 

I brought our Nativity set when we moved here in March.

Sean got his very own set of car keys in his stocking (from Father Christmas!). The makers were brilliant enough to really make the key parts out of metal– which of course is what fascinates every toddler!

Aunt Emily knitted Sean a viking hat for Christmas!

And since Sean didn't really want to wear it very long, it fit perfectly on my bun! :-)

We had a party for New Year's Eve, and a party at my parents' house means lots and lots of amazing food. Including mango-vanilla panna cotta made by my father!

Emily and I having a cream puff orgy, while my nephew Spencer is simply goofy. :-)

Moments not captured on camera– Nate called on Facetime on Christmas Eve night, and I read our traditional Christmas storybook, A Worker In Sandalwood, aloud to him and Sean before Sean went to sleep.

Jeremy spent Christmas Eve night at my parents' house. Since it's tradition for SOMEBODY in the family to be roused on Christmas morning by Christmas music, I used my boombox (aren't I a groovy kid?!) to wake Jeremy with a raucous chorus ("Merry Christmas, Merry merry Christmas!!") from a Trans-Siberian Orchestra album. 

Once Sean figured out that fun things were coming out of his stocking (a Koosh ball, his own pack of Kleenex, an old flip phone, and a Slinky, as well as the keys!) he became very eager to pull things out– and rather disappointed once it was empty. He continued to reach down his arm into his stocking for several minutes, making enquiring "hmmm?" noises at me.

On New Year's Eve, at about 5 minutes till midnight, Nate Facetimed in again, so that when the New Year arrived I could kiss him on my phone screen. Hey, I'll take whatever I can get– thank the Lord for technology!

Happy New Year!!