David is standing,
half-lathered, in the bathroom doorway ... razor in hand, towel slung
over one shoulder, looking all damp and pink and wistful.
"I wish today was a
riding day," he says with a sigh. "Don't you?"
The question catches me
off guard. As I sit on the bed on this Monday morning, hurriedly
dabbing Maybelline onto my face, bike riding is pretty much the last
thing I'm thinking about. Mostly I'm thinking about work, and about
all the stuff I didn't finish last Friday, and about all the things
I need to do when I get into office this morning. I'm anxious to
binding that groundwater monitoring report. (Holy shidt! I'm anxious
binding a GROUNDWATER MONITORING REPORT.)
But then I see the expression on David's face -- he
looks like a little
kid who went to bed the night before, praying for a snow day, only to
wake up to cloudless blue skies -- and I am reminded that
we may have fixed *my* job situation, his job situation remains
"Maybe we could call in
'lazy,' " I suggest, only partially in jest. We could leave vague
disaffected voicemail messages for our bosses -- "Sorry!
Can't make it in today!"
-- and then we could pack a picnic lunch, load our bikes
Subaru and head back to the Alameda Creek Trail. We left a lot of
ground uncovered there, last Saturday.
David shakes his head.
"I want more than just a riding DAY," he says mournfully. "I want to be
And he turns around and heads
back into the bathroom
to finish shaving.
I watch him walk away
with a mixture of affection, empathy ... and guilt.
The truth is -- and
don't tell David I said so, OK? -- I'm not so sure that I want EVERY
day to be a riding day. As we move further into the
year -- as we
head deeper into this whole insane "2002 in 2002" riding
I already know that I'm going to be the one secretly praying for snow
days in July. I already know that I'm going to be the one who will need
to be coaxed and cajoled and bribed into climbing onto the Schwinn at 7
a.m. on Saturday mornings.
And I already know that
riding will always mean a bazillion times more to David than it will to
As much as I enjoy being
on a bike -- and I do enjoy it, make no mistake about that: there are
moments, as a matter of fact, when the experience is positively
transcendent -- David is far and away the more passionate of the two of
us when it comes to riding. My enthusiasm/participation level hinges on
any number of variables: the weather, the traffic, the time of year,
the time of month, how much I slept the night before, whether I'm
having a Good Hair Day, whether I'm having a Not-Good Hair Day, how
much air is in my front tire, how much money is in my checking account,
whether my moon is in Virgo or Pisces or Walla Walla, Washington.
David, on the other
hand, could probably ride his bike nude in a snowstorm, at any
time of the month, and be perfectly happy.
Young Dumb Inexperienced
Secra might have worried about this troubling discrepancy in passion
levels, at least when it comes to bike riding. She would have seen it
as a warning sign that the relationship was in peril. She probably
would have started looking at all the other
areas within the marriage where one partner cares more deeply about
something than the other does -- politics, housework, shoe
Internet journaling, the stock market, Entertainment Tonight, Bob Dylan
bootlegs -- and she would wonder where it all went wrong.
worry this non-issue, like a Shitzu worrying a chew toy, driving
everybody crazy in the process, until the non-issue eventually became
an issue by default.
Young Dumb Inexperienced
Secra was like that.
Been-Around-The-Block Secra, on the other hand, understands that this
blend of His Stuff/Her Stuff -- the things he loves, the
loves, the things they love together -- is what makes a
interesting. She compares it to a big pot of gumbo: a lot of disparate
ingredients that somehow manage to complement each other in the final
blend. She understands that just as an all-seafood gumbo (or an
all-okra gumbo, or an all-chicken-beak gumbo)
would be excruciatingly uninspired, so would her marriage be if she
and her husband felt exactly the same way about everything. Plus, she
reminds herself, in most of the areas that really count --
marriage, their children, their sobriety, their art -- she
are just about evenly matched in the passion department.
Been-Around-The-Block Secra is a preachy, pompous know-it-all. But
she's right more often than she's wrong, so we're allowing her to live.
I walk into the
bathroom, where David is finishing up his morning shave.
"I wish it was a riding
day too," I fib, ever-so-tenderly. And I kiss him on the tip of
throw a rock