Anchored

Posted on February 7, 2011

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Theirs was a simple marriage.

Each moment was planned, precise, uncomplicated. Their relationship finely balanced, like the two arms of a clock. Their life evenly spaced like an uncluttered face of a timepiece. He worked the office; she worked the home. He filled the bank accounts; she filled the stomachs.

It was a simple marriage.

If there were yearnings, they were well hidden from each other; not intentionally, nor out of regret but out of a deep seated unwillingness to upset this easy ebb and flow. There were pakodas on Sundays, shopping on Saturdays, a movie and a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant once a month.

It was pleasant, familiar, comforting and steady.

Until one day, the wind suddenly changed and at the beginning of a normal week after a typical weekend, he was informed that he was going to Europe on work for six months. Shock and surprise was soon replaced by a throbbing excitement. An old, half-forgotten desire slowly unfurled at the pit of his stomach.

He was home half an hour early with a bouquet of white carnations and an eager smile. But she was out with the neighbour on her customary power walk. The car parked in the driveway a little too early jangled her nerves, so she missed the smile and mechanically arranged the flowers in a porcelain vase listening quietly to the excited voice talking about Pisa and Paris.

They were to leave in 1 month. The house needed to be secured, clothes needed to be purchased, boxes needed to be packed. Many lists held up by flower-shaped magnets covered the refrigerator door and stood neatly crossed out the day before they were set to fly.

Her girls had given her a going-away party and she had promised postcards and match-boxes as pointers on her path through Europe. Their blatant envy and and playful petitions for roles as her foot soldiers to fetch and carry left her feeling alienated and distant, tugging at her firmly anchored self and she felt herself panic as she was forced to drift free.

“I think we should be able to get our Schengen visa a week or so after we land.”

She was packing one last suitcase with small packets of curry powder and instant mixes her mother had thoughtfully provided, while he was reading through his newly purchased Lonely Planet – Europe.

“Won’t it be exciting to see a different country every weekend?”

“Will it?”

“Of course it will!”

The view of the Eiffel and the smell of the Seine filled his senses.  He longed to explore, to walk the streets named after poets and painters the world revered. She sat at the hotel window facing east wishing she were home, cooking food she could pronounce. “It looks the same in real life as it does on TV!” was her one comment that was rewarded with a hug and loud laughter.

He couldn’t see it. Not at first. He was too excited, too caught up with work, too full of the new to notice the hesitance, the reluctance. It was the total withdrawal that finally struck him.

“I don’t want a Schezuan visa!”

“Schengen!”

“Whatever, I don’t want it. Can’t you just finish so we can go back home. Work weekends if you must!”

Over there she had a purpose, a role, a routine. The romance, history, art and architecture of this world so different from hers seemed to diminish her meaning and render her obsolete. This land held her attention for as long as it took for her to feel its opposition and remind her of her need to be home. It seemed to invade her space and no matter how much he tried, it just never seemed to be worth her while.

So, she left for home and he left to soothe his yearnings.

While he gazed at Monet, walked through ancient chateaux and rode the gondola; she picked up her routine exactly where she had left off and felt herself settle back into the only life she had ever known and the only life she ever wanted.

He was back eventually, and as he stood at the threshold looking in through the window at her setting the table for dinner, he took in the familiar sights and smells as he slowly wiped the foreign dust off his shoes and walked in to a hot meal and a warm hug that he knew were waiting for him.

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