We drove along to the city to do our weekly errands. Him at the wheel of the car, me in the passenger seat. We traveled along this road that we have taken thousands of times in the past ten years, and the silence in the car was deafening. I sat in my seat, quietly looking out the windows and taking in the scenery that seems to change every time I pass by it. I noticed the flowers and plants that were blooming or growing in people's yards, noticed that the state had been through and done some mowing of the wild grasses and flowers that grow on the side of the road, and thought about how we got to this place in our lives. He stole glances in my directions every few minutes, and I knew he was wondering if something was wrong. Wondering if there was a reason why I was being so quiet, and trying to think if there was something that he had done to upset me. I noticed, of course, and wondered why he didn't say something.
As if on cue, he asked, "What are you thinking about?" I turned and looked at him, and asked, "Do you really want to know?" The look on his face said, "Not really, I think I might not like it." He replied, "Yes, I do."
In the long pause between when he replied, and when I answered, which seemed like an hour but in more reality was just a second or two, I replied in my head, "I'm thinking about how we got here. I'm wondering why we never talk... about how unless I initiate the conversation, or chatter on and on about my day or the kids or school or the garden or whatever non-important things I can think to fill the silence, that we don't talk. I'm wondering if you talk to the people that you work with, and it's only me that you can't communicate with. I'm wondering why, after 15 years, we keep having this same, tired conversation. Why you can't seem to understand that just existing together doesn't make a marriage. Why, while I appreciate that you do dishes, and housework, and cook dinners either alone, or with me, or take care of nasty jobs or do just about anything that I ask, and most times without complaining, that you can't understand how important connecting with each other is. I'm thinking about how tired I am of shouldering all the weight of keeping this working, and how sometimes the weight of it all seems like it might crush me. I'm wondering if it's me, if I'm doing something wrong and I just don't know what it is. Because you wouldn't tell me anyways."
What I said was, "I'm wondering why, unless I start the conversations, that we don't talk.Why, after all these years, I still have to start talking, or we just sit here in silence." He looked at me, and said, "I never feel like I have anything worth talking about." I looked out the window, and replied, "I feel like I'm tired of shouldering all the weight of making this work all the time."
We drove the rest of the way in silence. He continued to steal glances in my direction, as if to gauge what the seriousness of this situation was, but still not saying anything. I continued to look out the windows, wondering what he was thinking about, but knowing that even if I asked, he would reply with the usual, "Nothing really." The sadness of it all weighed heavy on my heart, and it continues even this morning.
He got up with me today, something that is a rare occurrence these past few years. I didn't get much sleep this past week, and it all caught up with me and I stayed in bed an extra hour and 15ish minutes this morning. We went about our morning, not really saying anything to each other, and I wonder how other couples spend their mornings together. Do they talk about their plans for the day? Comment about things going on in their lives? Tell one another how lucky they are to have each other or how beautiful one of them might be? Is it wrong of me to want all of that, when I am so blessed to have the rest? I sat in the chair and worked on a sweater I'm knitting, my fingers using the needles to knit the fabric together, the only noise the clicking of my needles and the hum of the washing machine. He turned on the news and sat down with his laptop, and I wanted to ask, "Do you turn on the T.V. to drown out the quiet?" but I didn't think that would help any.
I thought about my parents and how miserable they were all the years I was growing up. How they never talked, except to harp at one another, or yell or argue. How my mother was so sad and frustrated all the time, and my dad just paid her no attention. And I worry. I have worked so hard all these years, knowing where the road can leave if you don't work hard enough at the most simple things. I've seen it first hand, and I don't want to travel that road. There's a part of me that wants to just break the silence, chat about what we might do today, comment on the weather, or the rain we got last night. Mention how chatty the baby birds outside the window are getting and betting that they will be leaving the nest soon. The larger part of me feels like we need to deal with this head on. So I will pick up my needles, and continue with my sweater, listening to the birds, and the sounds of my needles. Wondering how long it will take for him to start the conversation, and if it will bet the important one that we so desperately need to have.