A few years ago, I tumbled down a slippery slope of awesomeness called coffee. Really, it was Gretchen’s fault. We were on our annual family vacation together, and she handed me a Frappaccino, henceforth known as The Gateway Drug To Full-Blown Coffee Addiction. Michael was offended. I was finally awake.
It was as if I missed something in our wedding vows: for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; I promise to enjoy only the aroma of coffee and never undermine our marital identity as non-coffee consumers.
I caressed my coffee mug, cooing over its blessed, caffeine-infused goodness.
“But we don’t drink coffee!” Michael insisted. As if I was committing the ultimate betrayal. His entire existence, everything he knew to be true, was called into question.
He’s been saving up, as those passive-aggressive types tend to do. He’s been biding his time, waiting for his moment to throw his own wrench into eighteen years of rock-solid marital certainty. Last weekend, he seized his chance.
Michael went hunting.
Like, for the first time. Ever. Y’all. It’s like I don’t even know him.
“But we don’t shoot things!” I insisted when he came home with his new hunting license. We don’t own guns. We don’t like guns. Guns are bad. Eyeballs are good. The two don’t mix. The end.
Meghan, our save-the-earth, animal activist, borderline vegetarian, was incredulous. “You’re what?!?” She shook her head. “Unbelievable.”
(I’m trying really hard to convert my kids into my bleeding heart liberal ways of thinking. I think it’s working.)
I realize I’m in the minority here, especially in the (cough, cough) Great State of Texas. You don’t mess with guns, litter, beer, corporations or taxes. No sirree. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it will always be. So I mostly keep my mouth shut and keep my progressive, slightly liberal ideologies to myself. Except when my beloved picks up a rifle and tries to shoot Bambi.
His partners (and by that, I mean business partners, just to be clear) take a “practice retreat” every spring. Please imagine my air quotes here. They pretend to need an entire weekend to evaluate their scheme to conquer the world, one eyeball at a time—but really, they are merely finding an excuse to leave their wives and children for the weekend, eat lots of barely cooked red meat, and hit golf balls.
Or, apparently, kill stuff.
Dr. E and Dr. A have been killing stuff for a while, and they teach their kids to kill stuff. They have the camouflage gear and calls and lures to attract Bambi’s mama to a perfect spot where they can take her out. They bought some acreage last year where they can spend lots of time killing stuff. Which is where they insisted upon taking Michael.
He tried to pacify me, even though I’m already a pacifist. “I’m only going to see what all the fuss is about. It will be fun, and it will be good time with my friends, but I won’t do it again. Probably.”
I facepalmed. “Who are you?”
We met when we were eighteen and nineteen years old—which is, holy crap, only four years older than our eldest child. We were babies. We didn’t drink coffee. We didn’t kill stuff. We didn’t know yet who we were or who we would become. Obviously, we’re still figuring that out—though we have a much better idea now.
Coffee and Bambi notwithstanding, much of what we believed twenty-one years ago we have set aside. What we valued, how we saw people, how we saw the world—that’s all different now, in a good way. I’m glad it’s different. I’m much more comfortable in my skin now. What I’ve decided I believe about God, about people, about the world, sits right with me now. I don’t have it all figured out, and I’m content knowing I never will. The painful shades of gray don’t frighten me any more—though I still wish they were a little more black and a little more white.
Michael, too, has changed, and as a married couple, we have evolved and morphed together. There are many issues—mostly political—about which we respectfully disagree, and we allow our kids to form their own opinions. But the core issues of faith and compassion, service and generosity, have knit us together, binding us to each other. Our eighteen and nineteen year old selves probably wouldn’t recognize us. They would quite possibly be perplexed, dismayed, disgusted. But they haven’t yet seen what we’ve seen. They don’t yet know. They can’t yet understand.
Years of questions and doubts, icy plunges into shades of gray, frightening journeys through darkness—all those have formed our perspectives and bound us together. We are united on the things that matter…which is precisely why I can drink coffee and Michael can shoot a turkey (or wish that he had), and we can still be okay.
But helpmebabyJesus if he ever comes home in cammo or attempts to mount an animal on a wall. I will take my coffee and run.