Since falling in love with Jason, I have become a giant sap. If anyone ever caught a glimpse of my private mush and schmoop, I would have to call off the friendship from pure embarrassment. It's like my 26 years of pre-Jason relationship cynicism finally collapsed inward, nothing to sustain them, once these new lovely dovey emotions finally found cracks in the veneer of coolness and fully infiltrated my emotional equilibrium, thereby leaving me happy and content. It's altogether disconcerting.
But that's not why I'm marrying Jason. In fact, I think those feelings of love and contentment are fragile pillars on which to support a life-long relationship. I don't care how strong my love is, when it's faced with piles of poopy diapers and a vomiting sick child and only three hours of sleep, love just isn't going to cut it. Happy and content probably won't cross my mind in the midst of sleep-addled justgethtisf*ckingoverwithalready resentment and frustration. No. I'm marrying Jason because I know we can handle the poop and vomit of the world together. I know we can figure out how to tackle problems together. I know we're both sensitive enough to allow the other a moment or two of unfettered frustration before we get back to getting things done. And I know everything is easier with him around, and we'll be playing with black humor and bad puns within a few hours as a way to accomplish the uglier tasks on life's to-do list.
Case in point: house construction. Dear lord, the bathroom construction this past week has been miserable and unavoidable, necessitated by our only shower leaking into and rotting the foundation. Taking showers at my parents' house each morning would be irritating enough, but we've also had the pleasure of learning about the unique physical properties of construction dust, which inexplicably manages to seep into every conceivable nook and cranny, even several rooms away from the bathroom epicenter. Our house is gross. I hate coming home and I hate adding an extra 45 minutes onto my already harried day for a shower detour and I hate not having our cats around at night to snuggle on our tummies and bed (they're safe from construction workers at my parents house.) But all of that is a manageable, temporary inconvenience. We've been complaining about the herculean clean up efforts next week and joking that Spring Cleaning came late this year, but it's not a huge problem overall. Fleas, however, are a nasty, horrible, MAJOR inconvenience that prove exactly why temperament and values play a much more major role in marriage than Love.
Eww, yes, fleas. Which was better than the initial fear that the bites were bedbug-related. They're not, THANK GOD, because bedbugs are horrific in a way I don't even want to think about. But still, discovering fleas when your house is already covered in gross construction dust made me want to simultaneously cry, stand on a (wooden) chair and squeal, shower (which we couldn't do without taking a trip), and get a hotel room. Fleas are, in a word, disgusting. We have no idea how they infiltrated our apartment, since the cats are indoor cats and arrived sans bloodsucking bugs. But they're here. And, after an evening of heebie jeebie feelings, we got down to just dealing with it.
The process of "just dealing with it" is where I really appreciate Jason and the full depth of this partnership. We can schmoop for hours on end, but it's when we we're covered in sweat, white dust and upholstery feathers (from taking all the sofa pillow cases off) and still in a relatively decent mood that I can truly appreciate just how great this partnership is and how strong our marriage will be. The construction won't be done til next week, but we dealt with thoroughly cleaning every corner of the house so the flea foggers could properly work, knowing that we'll need to scrub everything down again in a few days. We stripped every piece of upholstery in the house and took every bit of clothing down to the laundromat, because our in-unit washing machine wasn't enough for all the fabric. We cleared off every kitchen counter and taped up every cabinet in the house. We sprinkled (supposedly) natural, non-chemical bug powder on every upholstered surface and rubbed in the powder with a brush (given how much I coughed, I'm not sure it was non-toxic). We took our pet goldfish, Jimi Hendrix, out of his aquarium. And then we set off the flea foggers (terribly toxic, but there's no way around it really) and made our escape to my parents house for the next several days.
Sadly, Jimi didn't survive the move. We don't know if it was a problem with the bowl, his water, or if some pesticides somehow got him, but after our utter relief with accomplishing everything flea-cleaning related last night and getting to snuggle with our cats in my parents' guest room, we found the poor fish floating this morning. Jimi was Jason's first pet when he moved to Los Angeles. I may not have understood Jason's love for this fish (though Jimi was one of the happiest, most active goldfish I've ever met) but I really respected how the fish represented Jason's compassion for the world. (He rescued Jimi from an event centerpiece. The event planner hadn't exactly thought about what to do with the "centerpieces" after the event, and Jason was horrified. Of the four fish he saved, Jimi was the only one to survive. He lived for almost four years!)
So this weekend has been hard. It was a ton of hard, gross physical labor and it was a morning of loss and sadness for a pet who's followed Jason throughout his time in Los Angeles. But this weekend has also been a reminder of why I'm so happy and content in this relationship and why I know marriage is the rightest step we can take together. Marriage is built upon these seven-hour stretches of cleaning up, dealing with utter grossness, and coping with loss. It definitely needs schmooping and private time too, but it's the shared effort and the joint approach to taking care of life's ugly necessities that really ensures an ongoing healthy marriage. Real love is about how a family makes do. Real love is about family, like how my parents opened their home for us (and the cats, now treated with flea medicine) without question. Real love and family is about rolling with punch after punch, and somehow getting by, together.