Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maine, Marriage

{The Ten-Hour Road Trip To Get Sh*t Organized}










Everyone's watching the Olympics. No one will even notice we're gone. We need to get out of here. We need to catch up. Like, really be on the same page before you move back to Boston. Nothing is more important. Plus I didn't put my favorite giant Scottish sweater you said makes me look like a bag lady away in winter storage just in case we had to escape north. So let's go.

And so we drove ten hours north to northern Maine just like that. We didn't tell anyone we were going. P. stayed on his conference call the entire ferry ride to the island and I finished editing a business plan for this project before cocktail hour (which, when you're in Maine, is actually two hours long). We went north and didn't miss a thing.

We took Dolly for a long walk around the island. We left our phones at the house. We TALKED. How do you measure success. What do you want out of next year. When do we have children. Wait, do we want children. Ok I think we want children. How can we balance our careers, our marriage, our dreams, our travel desires, our family. Are we living fully. In what areas of our lives are we failing. Are we pursuing what other people expect from us or our actual desires. How can I be more organized. What do we do with the Scamp. Did you remember to bring that bottle of nice bourbon.

We worked on the bourbon and made a fire. No one tells you that sometimes you have to ditch everything and work on your marriage preemptively, like adding a little acid to the soil to ensure your hydrangeas come up like brilliant blue globes instead of waiting passively all year to realize you've got ho-hum pinkish-greenish clusters of meh. Do we like the marriage-as-soil-pH-level analogy? Just work with me.

P. goes back to grad school in Boston in three weeks. I stay in Brooklyn and go back to grad school in four. Two people can manage all right if they Stay On The Same Page, if they communicate. If they are honest, but gentle. Things like "I'll kill myself if you take a job in Washington D.C." and "your obsessive fern and pottery collecting is like a Victorian episode of Hoarders" aren't helpful. Instead, we take a deep breath and say "my career would prosper most from staying near New York but I would love to hear more about your love for D.C." and we say, "I find your love of nature and ceramics charming, but perhaps we should focus on the reality of urban living in a small apartment for the immediate future." You see? Not that hard.

I'm polishing off that glass of bourbon with Dolly at my feet and P. by my side on the couch. The fire is dying down, and we'll sit here until it's time to shove off to bed. Sometimes you just have to drop everything and focus on the Most Important Thing. I can be a hardcore feminist and an ambitious careerist and still say this: my marriage is the most important thing.

My marriage is the most important thing.

Pictures from here and there on Little Cranberry Island, Maine. 

76 comments:

  1. This is a very important thing to know. Sleep tight.

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  2. love this whole post. but especially the soil-ph anaology :)

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  3. I love this post too. Especially the sentence about ambition and feminism amd marriage. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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  4. really such a wonderful thing to write/read.
    you sound like you really know what you're doing!
    good job

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  5. beautifully written and very true. off to the same page, here right now.

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  6. i am so glad i stumbled upon your blog this summer. this is so encouraging & helpful to read, even as a single lady.

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  7. I'm single. I have this kind of communication with myself though, like a schizoid. Words are important and you can express the same exact feeling and have a positive reaction just choosing the right ones. I stopped telling myself I look like garbage, and started to suggest myself to take a better care, for example. It works. Still schizoid, but a polite one.

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  8. i adore this post. i love you guys! p.s. scout is really hoping she fits into the life plan. she just wanted to let you know that was on her mind. to ferns and family! xoxo

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  9. It's so good to read this. Best of luck on your journey this year.

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  10. A perfect post if there ever was such a thing... although, sometimes I don't mind if my hydrangeas come up a certain shade of chartreuse.

    Marriage. Such rewarding work.

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  11. great, great, great. In SO many ways!

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  12. Ahhhh, so often your posts make me wish I could hugsyou. It's so unfair that geography demands we only be friends from afar. I'll be thinking about you guys as you go through this transition. Very dear friends of mine did the same thing. He was in Tennessee and she was in Wisconsin (not even oh-my-god-i-miss-you-please-jump-in-the-car-and-come-to-me distance!) for a whole year but they got through it and are stronger for the fact that neither had to give up their dreams/education. And now they're happily in the same house and pregnant, so.

    :)

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  13. lily,
    i love your writing, artwork and honest perspective. my opinion, you're already a huge success (for waht it's worth).

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  14. Exactly. we have that exact paragraph of a conversation almost monthly. Because really...how do you know?! how do you make sure you are doing everything you've ever wanted, but still considering the other? how do you know if you want children and if so when is the 'right time'? when is the right time for anything..? I love that you two escaped. it really is much easier to focus solely on your marriage when you leave everything else behind. I'm glad you shared this, and that we aren't the only couple that has these talks! (in fact malcolm has used something like that exact fern/ plant collecting line in the past..ha! can't stop, won't stop)

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  15. So this left me choked up and weepy. I could cop out and blame it on the hormones (I'm prone to a lot of those moments these days!) but I think it just genuinely struck a chord. Thank you for sharing it, and for the Maine images. And lets be real, part of the heart swell is my missing Maine HARD (like woah). Something about being there really brings out deep, earnest and honest reflection - and for me, it snaps into focus what's really, truly important to me. Being there is always beautiful and heavy and complicated all at once, and sitting here so far away from it, I have to remind myself how lucky I am to have it folded into my my very core even though I can't be there as much as I'd like. xo to you and Dolly & P. And enjoy the rest of your trip!

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  16. i support this 100%. and i love your attention to living fully...you two seem to be better at that than most.

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  17. So beautiful. So honest. Thanks for leading by example and encouraging us all to live life more fully.

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  18. how high that highest candle lights the dark. it continues to amuse me that wallace stevens's words on the inside of his own head remain the truest ones about my marriage. i am so glad your boat has a good crew, too.

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  19. Woman, you just made me get all teary at work.

    Seriously, getting on the same page is tough sometimes. It's hard work but worth every scrap of effort, me thinks. It's really easy to wrap oneself up very tightly in their own life and thoughts, but remembering that there is another human on your team helps make it a little less appealing to get wrapped up that way.

    Thanks for sharing an excellent, excellent post. xoxo

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  20. THIS was so so good to read, especially as my husboy and I try to figure out future plans of where we Both want to go for further schooling. Should we use a day off to watch LOST episodes or should we turn shit off and figure shit out. Danke.

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  21. Dearest Lily, you speak from your heart right into mine. I love that your marriage is the most important thing. And I'm totally into the marriage as soil Ph level analogy.

    I love your family!

    xo
    cortnie

    p.s. You need to start the show Victorian Hoarders NOW.

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    1. I second the PS here. I'll volunteer to be a specimen for observation with my basement collection of "someday upholstery projects", scraps of fabric, misc vessels and wooden boxes.

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  22. Wishing you strength and peace to make it through one more year living far apart... I know how difficult that can be. Also, Acadia & Mount Desert Island contain some of my favorite spots on earth. Perfect setting for a secret escape!

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  23. You are so SMART. Lovely post.

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  24. Beautifully said. I know that thing where you are both a little fearful and it comes across a bit snappish. It's always better to regroup than to pretend it's not happening.

    I think it's also amazing that you two are so supportive of each other's individual lives that you are willing to live apart that long. I think that would sort of kill me. I would like to think that I could do it, but I'm not completely sure.

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  25. Love your honesty Lily, and how you look deeply into things with ALL your heart. It's a balancing act, isn't it? Marriage and art are both daily practices that demand the best of us, and then in turn make us better people...Best,xx

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  26. Oh my goodness, Lily. Wonderfully put. And so very, very true. As another hardcore feminist, ambitious careerist, lady in a very similar long-distance position, carefully tending the soil of my marriage, long may the hydrangeas of our relationships continue to flower most boldly, beautifully, blue. xx

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  27. Well done, sweets. Brava! Xx

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  28. True? Yes, yes. Important and a little bit of a kick in the pants? Certainly. But I humbly submit another candidate for MOST important thing: did one of you finish that stinking puzzle?

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  29. Yes. we (my husband and I) need camp. We missed it this spring due to house buying (oh how to test a marriage? Buy a house and fix it together!) Not going was financially wise but emotionally unwise.

    Isn't it sad that sometimes, as women, as men, we can be made to feel weak or less than, by saying our marriages are the most important thing in our lives. I lost a job because I did that once. Good riddance.

    You guys will do it. He wasn't my husband yet but I loved mine for 10 years from a whole other country and we made it.

    Our camp drink of choice is a good smokey scotch and cider. perfection.

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  30. Keep it up Ms. Lily. Fifty years from now you will still be a feminist, an artist, and looking back on your wonderful years of marriage! Three cheers to the soil you build it all upon.

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  31. State of the union meetings are crucial for marriages!

    I love you guys.

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  32. <333 yes, yes, YES.

    i feel that if more people did the pre-emptive relationship work, there would be less failed relationships altogether in this world of ours. it's so easy to just forget that you're a parter + an equal, in a relationship, when there's so much STUFF going on at any given time! but like anything else you do in life, a relationship is something you have to work at to make it good. i think that's why c and i work so well together...we have enough respect for each other to think outside the boxes that are our respective heads, and think seriously about the other person and how s/he is feeling, and if maybe work/social obligations/nights out/tv-watching needs to be postponed for some serious one-on-one time together.

    ANYWAY...nuff about me+c - you guys clearly already know the path to relationship awesomeness, so i'm glad you got to enjoy an awesome + snuggly escape with each other on such short notice! :)

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  33. I just found your blog on ESB. We're coincidentally driving up to Maine from NYC this weekend. Long drive, but I can't wait.

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  34. this is so so beautiful and inspiring.

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  35. Beautiful. And I didn't know that's how you make hydrangeas blue.

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  36. I love everything about this. beautiful.

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  37. Wow Lil. That made me smile, get a little sad and feel really guilty all at the same time. Smile because I'm happy for you that you have such depth, sensitivity, awareness and love and seem to know how to work it. A little sad cuz my relationship used to be like this and needs to be again STAT and a little guilty cuz I'm part of that relationship and need to step it up. Thank you for this. I'm sharing it with my sweetie as well as my other friends in love. It's a keeper.

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  38. this is splendid, sweet lil. i can relate, BIG TIME. enjoy yourselves. love each other. make it count.

    xoxo

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  39. WOW. Thanks for the outpouring of love and wisdom here in the comments and in your emails. I'm always blown away by the sisterhood (and brotherhood- hi fellas!) I have here, and I'm humbled by the stories so many of you have so generously shared.

    Thank you.

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  40. beyond beautiful!

    this was immensely meaningful, especially today. just what i needed to hear.

    thank you.

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  41. I just cried a little bit while reading this. You are a beautiful writer and a wonderful thinker. Thank you for sharing such true and personal thoughts that are so right on.

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  42. as someone who is engaged to be married in a year- this post is both beautiful and incredibly inspiring. thank-you for sharing such a personal story/moment/weekend...

    http://bybun.com/

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  43. Love this post, love this blog, and (even though I don't know you) love you. Thanks for this ... I needed it!

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  44. marriage is by far the most important thing, and when you do decide to have a little one {or two}, remember this post. you both are the beginning and will also be the end, for they are just the sweetness in the middle of it all. we like to say our crumb came to live with us, we didn't go to live with her. live your lives for yourselves, each other, and never, ever stop chasing those dreams.

    have i mentioned lately how incredibly amazing you are? you inspire 24/7.

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  45. I just had to read this all over again. You write so beautifully.

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  46. love this post. love Maine. love you. must catch up soon! xo

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  47. I've been trying to think of a way to respond to this post, but all I can think to say is YES and Thank you.

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  48. I'm a mother of two, together with my partner for 18 years (5 of it in Maine). This. Is a beautiful, truthful post.

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  49. I got to this post from apracticalwedding.com and immediately recognized Little Cranberry Island in the photos and then got VERY excited. Because there's no place I love more, despite living in CA. My parents are there now, and I wish I could be too. I love that you made the journey north to prioritize your marriage. I love the soil-pH level analogy. I'm going to remember it as I move from engagement to marriage. I also love your art work. That is all.

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  50. i'm not married but i love this post and hope that when/if i do get married my husband and i can do this same thing..take these long drives to get away and focus on us - speak honestly but gently.

    such a beautiful post and a good lesson for all couples i think.

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  51. so refreshing to hear marriage spoken of in this honest way. thanks for sharing.

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  52. Marriage is the most important JOB.
    24/7.
    It takes a lot of working on yourself to make things go right, year after year.
    But day after day you'll find yourself a better person.

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  53. you have a wonderful blog! ^______^

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  54. this was awesome. i describe myself the same way, and feel the same way about marriage (when i do get married). great post - thank you for sharing and articulating this.

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  55. Good for you for knowing when to escape from the rest of life and take care of each other. I love reading about other people who are faced with tough decisions but still manage to put their relationship with each other first. Beautiful images to go with an important lesson.

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  56. Amazing post. Inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

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  57. You. Are. Hysterical. and very cool.

    Just found your blog and I'm enjoying reading back through all your posts and envying your pre-child years of travel and adventure. I've ended up as a Northwest kinda gal but always felt I should've been in New York or somewhere north of there - guess I'll just live vicariously through you.

    Kindly,
    Jenny

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  58. I've been out of town and just caught up with my inbox. This might be my favorite post of yours, ever. (I've been checking in on your blog for a long time, but only recently subscribed.) I think your analogy to soil-ph is spot on. So are your priorities :-) Good luck with the start of your two-city school year.
    And keep writing... --Kate (from Mountaineers)

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  59. If D.C. happens, it's where I'm headed soon. It would be fun to be neighbors!

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  60. Amen about being a feminist and still putting your marriage first. I watched my mama do the same successfully too! :) So glad you guys were able to take some "us time". And Maine is August is pretty amazing, I can say from experience.

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  61. Just came over from APW (where I've been lurking for years hahaha). I love this post. How perfect for how I've been feeling lately.
    Thanks again for the post!

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  62. This is a beautiful post, Lily. In so many ways.

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  63. Be grateful to have someone who will drive north and have those important conversations. I can't get my man to talk about *anything*, and it's pretty much a bummer.

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  64. so true <3 ... You guys are on quite a wild ride!

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  65. My boyfriend (now husband) and I spent a year apart. I was in San Francisco, he was in Bolivia studying jaguars in the deep forest. As in, no communication at all! Except when he emerged every month or so and could pick up the mail. So, we wrote to each other. Wonderful, long, rambling letters. Love letters. Funny letters. Light, quick postcards written in a slap-dash hurry at the coffee shop. Letters with newspaper clippings and photos and tiny doodles. I now look back on that period and, hard as it was to be apart, we have such sweet memories preserved for when we are old, wrinkled and remember our adventurous days when there were no borders and the world was ours, fully. We still travel all the time, but almost always together. And sometimes I feel the urge to write to my love because when we are together all the time, we may not take the time to sit and reflect about what is so amazing about the luxury of that.

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  66. beauty-post, this one. and thanks you.

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  67. I just found your blog a few days ago through some serious instagram-blackhole-like-behavior and I have been reading back into your older posts because I find your style of writing conversationally very relaxing and a relief to read. This post about you and your man is awesome and something that I constantly go through with mine. My guy and I have been together for seven years and live in a tiny box apartment in San Francisco, sometimes it is important to remind ourselves how important it is to have this wonderful person here to support us in our quirky, sometimes irresponsible and erratic activities and that in order to maintain their and our own happiness we have to resist the urge to snap at one another and instead come up with constructive ways to communicate. Thank you for your refreshing honesty.

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