the love couple

IMG_0996Rudy and I are sitting at the dining room table, talking. Talking about the ups and downs of a relationship. The hard knocks. The soothing moments. The tension, and the good times.

He’s holding the ceramic statue of a man and a woman embracing. Rudy holds the Kish Sculpture while telling me how important the symbolism of the Love Couple is, for them.

This African art piece symbolizes commitment to each other at all times, he reads off the still-tied-on description-label.

The Love Couple is leaning into each other. Their bodies do not touch, the woman’s and the man’s right cheeks gently, yet firmly, press into each other, heads slightly bowed. Their arms cross at the elbow, on both sides of their bodies, each of them resting their hands on the other’s hips. The couple is standing toe-to-toe.

I relate to the stance of the statue. Rudy and I have embraced in a similar connection – time, and again.

I had bought him the sculpture, as a truce, to get over an unnecessary argument we had had seven-plus years ago.

Now, much later, as we sit at the table, I peer at the few cracks the statue owns. Cracks from an unexpected fall.

I reminisce about how after I had given it to Rudy he placed the Love Couple in the bay window, in our kitchen. A focal point. A simple, yet important gesture.

Several days later, as he was reaching for the cord to open the white slated blinds, his wrist grazed the sculpture, knocking it over, breaking off and chipping the top portion – namely, their heads. Rudy handed it to me, his eyes wide. But, I didn’t panic.  I simply glued the pieces back together, as streamlined as possible.

“Even the cracks are us, you and me, our relationship. Nothing is perfect. All we can do is move forward, fractures and all,” Rudy said as he looked at the Love Couple, at the hairline fissures it endured.

I nod, knowing that’s all we can do. Move forward.

valuable values

i value my parents, and how they modeled what it means to be a good person

i value love, patience, understanding
happiness, health

family, friendships, relationships

diversity, freedom, independence

nature

warmth
kindness
smiling faces

children and cats

i value simplicity
living like there is no tomorrow
teachable moments
making a difference in someone’s life

i value laughter, loud cheerful laughter

i value quietness

i value rudy, liz, roberto, and brad

i value me, the mirrored me
public and private

i value honesty
open-mindedness
concern for humanity

kisses
caresses
and hugs

i value life

Moving In… Together.

me and rud

There was no reason for Rudy and I to move in together, long ago. We just did. It wasn’t out of necessity. It was simply an opportunity. Rudy had a roommate. I lived at home. His roommate met a girl and moved in with her. Rudy didn’t need a roommate, nor did I need a new room. Yet, one day as we were walking around the apartment complex he was living in we simultaneously wondered, “Why not?”

By the following month, we had signed a rental agreement for a one bedroom, one bath apartment, top floor.

“Why?” my mom wondered.

“Why?” Rudy’s mom questioned.

“What’s the point?” my mom inquired.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Rudy’s mom stated.

It didn’t need to make sense, we both thought, to anyone but us. We just knew it was what we wanted to do. Live together, before marriage.

The Mask of Unhappiness

Rudy and I went through some difficult times, emotionally, during the three years he did not work, after being laid off from a going to retire from job. Our days were filled with a constant flow of ups but, mostly downs. We weren’t feeling too happy. With each other. With our situation. We argued. A lot. Daily.

One of those days…

I was trying to read. Take my mind off the bad feeling outside my bedroom door. Yet, my head hurt. From a throbbing headache. I could hear Rudy walking my way, down the hall, along the wooden floor boards. I was in the bed, under five layers of blankets. In pain. Unhappy.

“Do you need the light on?” he asked. As politely as he could manage. “Yes!” I said rudely. Bitchlike. “I just thought you didn’t need it!” he raised his voice. I held up the book I was attempting to focus on. Rudy walked back out the door. Slamming it shut. I followed him back out into the kitchen. Feeling I owed him some kind of apology. Rudy didn’t bother to listen to what I had to say. He walked away. Into the garage. Into his man-cave.

My head hurt. More. I walked. Or stomped back to my bedroom. Mumbling angrily to myself. I crawled back under the blankets in the now no lights on dark room. I sighed. Heavily. Under all that weight. I could hear Rudy. Walking my way. Again. He opened the door. “The beef stew is done,” he told me in a flat tone. I ignored him. He walked away. Five minutes later he returned. He flipped on the light. With anger. Stood there. I assumed. I couldn’t see him but I could hear him as he grumbled. Made angry sounds. I did not move. My head hurt. Badly. And, even though I was under a pile of blankets, I felt so cold. He flipped off the light. Slammed the door, and walked away, for a second time.

Again. I crawled out of my haven. Walked slowly back to the kitchen. To Rudy. “My head hurts. I don’t feel well,” I told him. “Everything is falling apart!” he yelled in my direction.
I cried. Uncontrollably. We yelled. At each other. Until neither of us could take it anymore. Rudy stomped back into the garage. I returned, once again, to my room. My headache only got worse. I took a deep breath. Found my spot under the blankets. Didn’t move. Not until the next morning.

Just Do It

I walked into the apartment, looking somewhat relieved, yet nervous about Rudy’s reaction. “I quit my job, today,” I told him. He looked at me, not sure what to think. He looked at my tired expression and then at my swollen belly. “Why?” he asked. I knew I had made the right decision for me, for our future yet, I knew it wasn’t fair to Rudy that I hadn’t consulted him about leaving a job that brought in money to help pay the bills. I wrapped my hands under my pregnant belly, six months of baby inside me. “Well, I drive by the university everyday on my way to work and everyday I tell myself that someday I will return to school to finish what I had started long ago.” Rudy approached me, put his hands on my shoulders, and said that it was okay. “We will manage. We will figure it out.”

My first semester as a transfer student was somewhat difficult. Not only did I have to renew my mindset to student but I was preoccupied with the fact that I would soon become a mother for the first time. I was uncomfortable physically, and mentally I felt overwhelmed. Tired, sure, but more than that I was determined to walk a steady line. I completed the semester with all my work turned in, finals finished. The following morning, my baby daughter was born.

me-newborn lizSix weeks. That was the amount of time that Elizabeth and I had bonded, with no distractions. Well, as it always happens, time runs out. In mid-February, semester number two began. So then did a whole new challenge. How were we going to do it all? Rudy was working the graveyard shift (as in 11pm to 7am), so he was constantly trying to adapt to some kind of sleep pattern. A new baby added a new dimension: Will we ever sleep? While he worked through the night, I was at home caring for Elizabeth, waking up every few hours to feed and change her. Then, just before the sun rose, I began gathering my school things while getting dressed. Plus, I needed to do another breastfeeding session, swaddle Liz in fresh linen (cotton diapers, delivered to the house) and soothe her, gently rocking her while we waited for Rudy to return home. Then, he’d take over while I went to morning classes.

He looked exhausted as he walked through the front door, but he reached for Liz, held her close, and began babbling quietly as I rushed out the door.

rud:newborn lizUpon my return, several hours later, I would quietly enter the apartment only to find Rudy lounging on the couch. His feet splayed out in front of him, his head tilted forward, chin against her head, and his arms tightly, yet gently, wrapped around our wee child. I didn’t want to interrupt Rudy’s much needed nap but I knew it was best to get him into the bedroom, close the door, and let him sleep for as many hours as he could manage. Not easy, though, when the bedroom window faced the kindergarten playground of the neighboring elementary school. I then spent the day caring for Miss Lizzy, doing the best I knew how. When she would fall asleep, I would gather my homework and study. As late evening approached, after Rudy had eaten something, anything, he would kiss us goodbye,  and then the cycle would begin again.

liz&meGRADUATEAfter two and a half years of adjusting to our “situation“, the I just wish I could sleep! situation, Rudy tiredly took pictures of me with a cap and gown on, Elizabeth in my arms, smiling at the camera.

I knew I still had an additional year of schooling to complete, in a credential program somewhere, anywhere, before I could teach solo in a classroom. Unfortunately though, I needed to return to the work force, full-time. Sleep deprived or not, I was confident that  eventually I would return to school. “I will,” I told myself.

And I did. I eventually enrolled in a credential program, taking evening classes so I could continue to work during the day. And by this time, our second child, Roberto, was three years old, the same age Liz was when I earned my Bachelors Degree. The day I left for my first day at work, as a certified school teacher, was the same day Roberto began kindergarten.

Here it is, twenty years later and I reflect on those days and wonder how I did it. How we did it, Rudy and I. Well, I’ve determined that we just did because, honestly, we had to.  We tried (very hard) not to reflect on the downside, but rather on how to make the most of our situation, or probably more accurately, we just plowed through it, hoping for the best. Those obstacles seriously molded the way we continue to approach life. With perseverance. Whether we sleep or not.

He Likes Me and I Like Him

rudy:me wedding day
Our wedding day was a simple one. We were wed in a two-story Victorian house. As my maid-of-honor, wearing a forest green knee-length dress, walked down the stairs, she was greeted by seventy-five guests. When the piano player played the “Wedding March”, or more often known by its lyrics ‘Here Comes the Bride…” I, too, walked down the stairs in a traditional white gown wearing a veil, a string of pearls, and holding a small bouquet of flowers. I was greeted by my dad. He walked me to the front of the room, giving me away to Rudy, who, I must say, was looking quite dapper in his black suit and red tie. Rudy’s best-man stood to his right, also wearing a black suit, and my maid-of-honor stood to my left. Our bilingual priest stood in the front, facing us, centered. When the ceremony ended, the small crowd was encouraged to eat the buffet-style food and to simply enjoy themselves. In the most relaxing way.

When Rudy proposed to me, it really was just a question intertwined among the many things we were discussing. Kind of like, “How was your day?” “Fine.” “You want to get married?” “Yeah.” As simple as that. Within three months of that should-be-heavyquestion, we were married. We’ve never looked back. Our decision was our own. So easy. So simple. So us.

When our wedding day ended, when we woke up as a married couple the next morning, we knew that our relationship, our lifetime together, was truly beginning right then and there. For us, it wasn’t about the ceremony but rather about what lay ahead. Good times, and difficult ones, too. Of course, we could only imagine what great times we would have, but there was no way we even discussed any not-so-great times. Why bother when we didn’t know what was in store for us? All we knew for sure was that we both loved each other, and just as important Rudy really liked me (and still does) and that I really liked him (and still do). Loving each other seems obvious but, what we know now is that liking each other is what has cemented our relationship.

Years and years after our wedding day, Rudy and I were walking along, hand-in-hand, when he said to me, “I love you. You are so good for me. You make my life so much better. Without you… I don’t want to think about it.” I responded simply with, “I love you, too, Rud.” Then he continued. “What is really cool, though, is not only do I love you, but I really like you, a lot! I think you are an awesome person. I like the kind of wife you are. The kind of mother you are. I just like you!” I hugged him, hugged him tight. “I really like  you too, Rud.”

x is for xenophile

I am, and have been for as long as I can remember, a xenophile.

I. AM. ATTRACTED. TO. FOREIGN. PEOPLE.

rudy

Specifically.
To.
Rudy.

Mr. Honduras.

A foreigner.

Who was foreign to me.
When we locked eyes.

Long ago.

But not anymore.

He.

With his chocolate skin.
Makes me swoon.
His don’t mess with me dark features.
That can just as easily turn into a happy, feel-good expression.
And the silken accent that flows off his tongue.
Oh, how it weakens my knees!

Yep.
I am a xenophile.

Enamored with Rudy.

The Semi-Plan

IMG_6006Years ago, when Rudy and I moved into our house, I knew that we had found our home. As far as I was concerned there would never be a need for us to move. Ever. I would imagine us together, raising our children into adulthood. The kids would eventually move on, maybe giving us the title of grandparents. I would envision homemade cookies baking as our kids, with our grandchildren in tow, would gleefully stride into our beloved home, to spend the day with us. Life would be grand, in the most typical way.

Over the years, though, Rudy would remark about how great it would be to live elsewhere. But, what about the value of stability? I would respond. He’d answer with his own question, What about experiencing life? Even though we would lightly debate, the subject would be dropped, both of us knowing we weren’t actually ever going anywhere.

Yet, one day, I was sitting alone when Rudy’s voice popped into my thoughts. What about experiencing life? I heard him say. And that is when I knew, we did not need to keep our wonderfully stable home forever. Life is too short to live stagnantly. Life should be experienced.

Thus, the semi-plan was born.

I want to experience life, I told him. Rudy was surprised to hear me say I was willing to become unstable. We discussed the seriousness of my comment, and we both agreed that life has so much more to offer than just living a stationary lifestyle.

Our plan begins now. And even though it’s mainly in thought and conversation, eventually, we’d like to unstable ourselves when retirement comes to fruition. Maybe, we can sell our family home, and possibly buy something smaller, just for the two of us along a coastline. Somewhere. Maybe we will road-trip throughout the United States. Or live in one location until we decide life was experienced, then move on to another unforeseen destination. The unstable possibilities are endless.

If I had my life to do over again…

Financial freedom comes to mind.

To just be.

To live freely,
without constraints.

If I went back, I would begin at the beginning,

When I got my first job, at age 16.

Because, then,
in the long run,
in the far distant future,

As in NOW!

me and rud

Rudy and I would be traveling together,
to crazy-cool destinations.
To experience the world, in the simplest way.

We’d run wild,

carefree,

happily.