Sunday, 12 April 2015

I'm Still Learning

It's a late entry today. I'm sitting here in my hotel in Ottawa, enjoying a glass of wine while Katherine bustles about, arranging our luggage, putting rails and chairs and bathroom supplies in place. It is a result of a late start, a slow start on my part. This morning I could barely shake off the shades of sleep, barely move when 10:00 AM came round. My morning routine was slow, dressing was slow, and at the end Katherine said "We have to leave. You can write later."

Those of you who know me well will probably guess how I responded to this, at least internally. Externally I put up a mild resistance, knowing full well that we had to check out by 11:00 AM. that we needed gas in the truck, that Katherine had the gear ready to go. Nonetheless, I wanted to write, regardless of all that. Katherine insisted; I relented. It created a moment of tension between us, one of the few we have experienced on our voyages.

It's important to understand our routine, the routine which has developed as we have traveled day after day, unpacking each night, packing each morning. Our typical day starts with Katherine waking well before me. This is not a requirement; she just gets up earlier than I do. She is easily up by 9:30 AM, sometimes earlier; it's still a vacation after all. When she gets up she engages in her morning bathroom routine, then dresses. After that she sets out clothes for me, readying my gear for the coming day.

When I finally wake my sorry ass, sloughing off the shards of sleep upon which I yet remain impaled, she reminds me to take my medications. I do so. Then I head off to the bathroom for my morning routine. Before starting that which we must all do, I empty my jug, squirt in the cleaner, and fill it with water, leaving it in the sink where it sits and awaits me as I attend to myself. Once done that which I must do, I return to the sink, re-emptying my jug as the first step. With the sink now clear, I wash myself and brush my teeth. All the while, Katherine waits.

After my morning needs, I get dressed. I can still do this on my own; it is with some gratitude I make that remark. After dressing, a process which can take quite some time, I finally am ready to put pen to paper, digitally speaking. This whole process can take upwards of an hour or so. All the while, Katherine waits.

This morning the process took until 10:45 AM. "Too long", she said. "Time to go", she said. I told her I felt like she was ordering me around; she was dutifully upset by my comment. Then I said something which completely surprised me. I assured her that how I felt about her was very different than how I felt at that moment.

This is perhaps the first time in my life in which that distinction has been so clear. In all of my married life, I felt as if any condemnation from my wife was complete condemnation. I was not harried for an action; I was harried for being who I was. At least that's how I felt. It is such a relief to know that I can love someone yet still feel an action on their part is not something I like. It is such a relief to know that action and self are not condemned together. It further surprises me that it took so long for me to see this in others, as well as myself. It looks like I am still learning.

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