Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities


Reposted from Citypages.com.

The two towns are an old couple now, long married and long since settled into the notion that they'll spend the remaining years of their lives together. Nadine and Russell: two cities separated by a river—one that runs between men and women everywhere.

We all move with our DNA's own pulsating energy. Nadine and Russell are no different, and those energies have often pulled them in wildly different directions over the years. There were memorable arguments, days when they didn't speak. In many ways theirs has been a marriage of convenience. They were brought together by mutual interest and a belief that one could further the ambitions of the other. Not the foundation of love, perhaps, but despite living pragmatically rather than romantically, they've tried to work things out, sometimes through tortured marriage counseling.

In one marathon therapy session, years ago, the effort was tense and bitter. Nadine had been searing the candle ends, securing high-stakes business deals for her firm by day, then going out at night to hear music and see shows.

Russell had been fine with it, at first. He spent his time with the kids, taking them to a museum or to the playground. He was in the church's men's club, and he went to occasional talks at the library on local history. Gradually, though, he came to ponder what he truly had in common with the woman he married. He felt they were growing apart. On a cold January day, the therapist had asked them candidly what need they were looking for the other to fill, and how much of their frustrations were from old wounds that were never honestly discussed.

Russell opened up about his jealousy, his sense that he came off as a bit player in their relationship and that Nadine took him for granted. But he also spoke of his belief that Nadine's pursuits came at the expense of perspective. He said that at the speed she moved, she often missed the sweetness of things, a sweetness that included her husband.Nadine argued that Russell needed to open up, to welcome new experiences and join her in her adventuresome spirit. If they were to succeed, Russell would need to rise to meet her energy. She couldn't slow down to meet his.

It would be a lie to say the therapist helped lead them to a new understanding, but they came to figure out one thing: They weren't going anywhere. They had fallen in love with the home they had built together and both had a secret admiration for the other that, until that session, had only been spoken of during stretches of mild inebriation.

They stuck it out. Divorce was never mentioned again. And they remain married today, still walking side by side along the river. Old Nadine and Russell, after all these years still turning to one another with that mysterious look of expectation, revealing all that history. The eyes are now tucked behind wrinkles and sun-damaged skin, but they still glisten with a kindred knowledge of a spoken and unspoken relationship.

Kind of like love, but not exactly.

2 comments:

JP said...

I'm having trouble with the link.

mides@hunter.cuny.edu said...

Fixed.