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  • Lijing Cobb

Closer

My husband works over the weekend just as he works over the week, but I’ve had the luck to not schedule any work for myself over the weekend lately to relax and spend more time with my kids when they are off. Hoping against hope that my love would manage to finish working early on the weekend to spend some time with us, I make some semi-baked plans just in case we are graced with his company, but reality is cruel and he often arrives back home when the day is done and energy is low. Slowly but surely I’ve been revising my schedule accordingly so that we may still enjoy some quality time together at night. Yesterday I managed to stay in bed till 6am, and this morning I only got up at 7am. So early! You gasp. But for me, I’m 2 - 2&1/2 hours past my normal rising time.


Which means that I’ve gained 2 - 2&1/2 hours at night where I’m not conked out on the couch or in my bed when my husband gets back home and tried to relax over a movie, a game, or just to talk. The other night he got home after we’d already finished dinner, so as I busied myself at the sink, he sat and told me about his day. 20 or 30 minutes later the kitchen was clean and ready for use in the morning, at which point my husband concluded his narration and thanked me for letting him “blow off some steam.” English being my second language, I learned what that phrase really meant for the first time. Ah, just as it was important to me to tidy up and have a clean kitchen at the end of the day, it is important for my husband to tie up the loose ends of the often chaotic happenings in his day so that he can start afresh in the morning.

On Thursday night I put on Seinfeld. My husband sat down in the middle of an episode and laughed at everything on the screen. Humor reaches him easily: he’s very willing to laugh and enjoy the lightness of life. We sat like this and enjoyed quite a few episodes together while I tried to learn from his easy-going manner. On Friday night while the kids enjoyed their electronic time away from us, my husband played his virtual poker game with his friends, so I watched a new Netflix series while sitting next to him. I discovered that we could be in the same room doing two different things and still appreciate each other’s company tremendously. Last night we had friends over for food and games, and as we learned a new game where all the players must work together in order to succeed, I learned that we do not have to pit ourselves against each other or imaginary enemies to feel or prove our self-worth. As we all tried to figure out the best way to communicate with each other in order to accomplish the mission assigned to us, I realized that we’d been trying to do that in real life too. Sometimes I’m the captain of the ship and must direct my crew to achieve our objectives; other times I must listen to and obey the instructions from my captain in order to accomplish our mutual goal. What a tremendous way to miniaturize our life!


I’m happy at the thought that I’ve become a little less self-centered. If my hovering over the dishes while listening to my husband telling me about his day lets him de-stress; if to get my husband to relax and laugh is as easy as sitting on the couch and turning on “Seinfeld”; if not complaining about his Friday night poker game allows us to experience the same night differently but together, I’m happy to be the facilitator of all these things so that the father of my children can feel appreciated, supported, and understood. I used to have these guidelines in my mind that in order to have quality time together one must fulfill requirements 1-10, and never stopped to question who wrote the guidelines and if they knew the details of my life. Now I know that all there is to quality time is just to go with it, and stay happy with the choices we make.


I spent an hour on the mat practicing Kundalini yoga yesterday, and 90 minutes practicing Ashtanga yoga today. I’m floored by the teachers whose classes I followed and what they can do. But I am not unhopeful that every day I practice, I’d get a little bit closer to where I’d like to be. I know that every minute and effort devoted to a good purpose pays off in some ways. What we hold in the center of our lives cannot be as measly as the worldly desires of our physical body.


A while ago my husband and I had a huge fight and he told me that it killed him that whenever we sat down to watch a movie together, I always sat away from him. We have a big couch, and while my mind was not in it, my body manifested the distance. Now we have the same couch but could potentially fit a lot more folks on it than before.


It feels good to be closer.

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