People often ask me what Poor Kyle thinks of me going out of town so often and for such extended periods of time. (For those of you who didn’t get the memo: I’m visiting my hometown for the majority of May before I head to Europe for the majority of June.)
When he drove me to the airport to drop me off for my flight to Phoenix, I asked him if he’d miss me.
—I always miss you.
—Sure I do. You’re my wife.
Touched by his tenderness (trust me: it was tender for him), I got a little choked up thinking about how sweet it was that he loved me enough to miss me. I got to thinking about how I wished he’d come down with me, about how he used to surprise-visit me when we were dating and newly married. I romanticised our relationship to such absurd states of passion that I nearly called the whole trip off because I couldn’t bear to leave his loving side.
When we got to the airport, he got out and hefted my suitcase out of the back seat (perhaps a bit too eagerly, I see now), gave me a hug and tried to be inconspicuous as he wiped the corner of his eye. (It was just for show.) I gave him a giant hug and a quick little kiss on the cheek (he hates PDAs), and hurried away before I could get too sad about leaving.
As I walked toward the airport’s sliding glass doors, my suitcase’s wheel got caught on a crack in the sidewalk and flipped over. Stopping to set things aright, I took the opportunity to steal a quick glance back at my grieving husband, whom I expected to see waving me off with a white hanky whenever he wasn’t using it to sop up the tears streaming down his love-struck face.
But rather than the Kodak moment I’d so carefully constructed in my mind’s eye, I witnessed instead a sort of spring to my husband’s step. Not only was he not waiting for me to descend into the airport’s maw and disappear forlornly from his sight, but I swear I actually saw him run, jump, and click his heels in exuberant glee on on his way back round to the driver’s side of the truck.
Indeed he looked positively jolly.
He drove away without even waving goodbye as I stood there on the curb of the airport.
I was offended for about as long as it took me to reach the US Airways ticket counter, at which point I’d talked myself out of a real marital hissyfit.
The truth is, Poor Kyle and I aren’t really a needy sort of married couple. I’ve long since known that I need him more than he needs me. And even though I can be clingy sometimes (okay a lot of times), at this point in our sixth year of knowing each other, I’ve pretty much come to terms with that. He enjoys his time away from me wherein he gets to eat Kraft Dinner as often as he likes and hang out at his friends’ houses till the wee hours of the night without dread of getting a lecture from me when he comes home. And I? I love to travel so much that when I’m out in the world on my own I don’t really mind being alone on the trips that he’s not with me.
Would I prefer it if he was always able to accompany me?
Of course. He’s a fun guy, the sort of person who can make even the most tedious of grocery runs seem like a night on the town.
But can I stand being away from his side?
Yes. Yes I can.
And he finds he can bear the solitude very cheerfully.
Whether it’s the secret to a great marriage or a doomed one, it’s how we roll.
Poor Kyle, he loves me. But he also loves me gone.