How does a couple’s intimate knowledge of each other dissapate like morning fog, leaving only the faintest wisp of a memory behind?
Last night Caroline asked if I could come over and take our two dogs for their morning exercise. She had an early court date. I readily agreed.
I arrived around quarter to seven. Caroline was gone. The dogs were happy to see me. Very happy. They always are.
I texted Caroline saying I assumed they had been fed. I left for the dog park, the girls very excited. I looked forward to seeing old friends I once saw every morning.
Halfway there, just a four minute drive, I received a text from Caroline. She was on her way home from spin class and hadn’t fed the girls.
I turned the car around and headed home where Caroline greeted us.
I said, being mindful to sound lighthearted, “Hey, when I get here I assume the girls have been fed. If you could let me know when they haven’t I’d really appreciate it. No big deal.”
Caroline became a little defensive.
“The dogs were still asleep when I left for spin.”
“Not a big deal. Honest.”
“I figured I’d be back from class before you came.”
I repeated, “It isn’t a big deal. It would just be helpful for me to know.”
“Let me explain what I was thinking… I assumed you wouldn’t be here before…”
I cut her off. I could see her cringe in her eyes. “I’m not mad. I get what you were thinking. It isn’t a big deal. Moving forward if you could just let me know.”
By then the girls had eaten their breakfast and we departed. I wished Caroline good luck in court.
I’ve been thinking about this moment all day.
Caroline’s cringe breaks my heart. When our marriage dissolved, was I that angry, that impatient, that hostile, that even now Caroline instinctively takes a defensive stance?
Oh good, a new source of shame with which I need to develop a relationship.
At that moment, however, I kept thinking how nice it would be if Caroline simply and sincerely said “sorry.”
I had personalized Caroline not telling me because she didn’t value my time. So what if, after taking them to the dog park, I had to feed them and take them for a walk?
In retrospect, I realize I had suffered a setback. I wasn’t looking at the moment with the right perspective.
One of the many lessons I’m gleaning from Buddhism Is understanding I wasn’t mad at Caroline when she explained not telling me about the dogs. I was mad at how it made me feel.
That’s different. That’s something I can change.
Caroline and I are adjusting to a new relationship, maintaining a partnership as parents to our three daughters, and nothing more. It is an amalgam of intimate familiarity and a future riddled with unfamiliarity.
Regardless, I have never been better equipped to meet the challenge than I am right now.
Stay in touch. Connect. Comment.
PS: I guess this is a missed connection.