He started out on the periphery of my life. He appeared in my dorm as a freshman, a mop of frizzy curls atop a lanky frame that always seemed to riding a bike, even in rain, even in snow. I often passed him on my way to the library, with my New York Times and my legs clad in black cotton.

I can't say I knew him then, I knew of him really; we lived in the same dorm, we attended the same parties, our best friends dated each other.

But I don't remember ever speaking to him during our years at the same college.

A few years later, he became an acquaintance, someone to invite to my flat's dance parties, or to meet up with at our college's events for recent grads in our city.

We started swing dancing together.

Then club dancing together.

Somehow we started calling each other up and chatting about our lives.

(Including our love lives.)

He asked me out, but I was seeing someone else. We stayed friends.

He started saving my beloved New York Times Sunday Magazine for me, since I couldn't get it delivered at my apartment - it was always stolen, no matter how early I woke up to retrieve it. My best friend from college, who knew him too, came to visit and raised her eyebrows knowingly at the stack of magazines he carefully handed over.

I went away on a long trip and dreamed about him. I dreamed he was my boyfriend.

I set out to make him mine.

He became mine. I became his.

Then he was my world. I thought of him all the time, every moment seemed so clearly marked: I was either With Him or Waiting To Be With Him Again.

We made a life together.

We made a home together. (Several homes, by now.)

We made a family together.

We got very, very busy.

I woke up and suddenly felt him on the periphery, again.

His lanky bod is still topped with curls. My legs are still clad in black stretch cotton. That is about all that is the same.

He puts hair goop in to tame the frizz, and rides off in his low gray car. I wave my hand goodbye and help a tiny hand next to me wave too and I don't see him for many hours.

My time now seems divided into time With Kids and Time Away.

Time Away Alone.

Watching 51 Birch st. together the other night, we started out apart, in our usual spots: him on one side of the couch, laptop on his lap, me on the floor, stretching my hips. By the end, we were intertwined, in a way we hadn't been in too long: fingers and knees and arms linked in the way you are when you are coming together, away from the periphery.

(Go. Watch 51 Birch St. and prepare to be moved. And possibly intertwined.)


twisterfish said...

I watched that a few weeks ago... really got me thinking about my parent's marriage and my own. Wonder what my kids will think of my marriage when they are adults and look back. Wonder what will surprise them about us. We all have our secrets. I'm anxious to talk with my mom about her marriage but not sure she'll tell me any secrets.... though I'm sure there are some.

Stephanie said...

Oooh, now I'm super-intrigued by this movie. Love the images of you and CG at "the beginning."

B said...

I loved reading this :) 10+ years and 2+ kids sure do change things. I can't wait to watch 51 Birch St.with my husband soon- it's been a while since we've been intertwined.

Hillary said...

Well I certainly want to see that movie now.

Michelle said...

Great post. It is so easy to let the kids take over. The husband made me sit down and watch a movie with him the other night without a book in front of me, just curled up together. It was perfect.
And now I must watch that movie.

Jessica Berger Gross said...


Cortney said...

*sigh* Perfect post. (and I wanna watch that movie now, too)

Anonymous said...

terrified to watch this movie... afraid to see my own marriage and be forced to realize the unhappiness... then what to do?? 2 small kids, no way I want it to end, stuck so better off pretending all is ok. How unhealthy is that!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Well, I'll be so curious to hear what you all think if/when you see this movie! It's painful and sharp at times, but it made us both look at our marriage with new eyes, and a new appreciation.

Annonymous- It's scary to look at something so central to your life with your eyes wide open. I hope that you find a way to make it okay. Or better than okay. Because you, your husband, and your kids all deserve that.

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