Life with Liz: Sharing memories
We are still living vicariously through home renovations, and it’s hunting season. For the weekend, our sleeping arrangement has become boys bunking in one unfinished bedroom on aerobeds and the girls bunking in another on the one bed that was too big to move out of the bedroom. That way, the boys can leave early in the morning without disturbing us … too much. With football season finally being over, Friday nights have finally become an evening to wind down from the stresses of the week.
E has been reveling in this girl time “sleepover” with her “bestie.” That’s provided she’s no longer mad at me for fighting with her over everything from what clothes she’s wearing to how she’s (not) brushing her hair to whether or not she’s reading a book appropriate for her grade level.
I hadn’t been paying too much attention to the boys’ side of the hallway until E conked out early one night and I was trying to catch up on some reading. I gradually became aware of low voices engaged in deep conversation. At first, I was confused. I thought maybe someone was lurking outside. Then, I realized that the windows were closed, and the voices were coming from inside the house.
It dawned on me. The boys, all three of them, were engaged in a deep, meaningful, respectful conversation. Although I couldn’t hear exactly what they were talking about, I could hear their tone and all three voices contributing to the conversation. It struck me that this conversation was slightly different from our normal chatter around the dinner table, when we tend to get slightly argumentative with each other, or we tend to go overboard on the happy about good news, or stew and sulk about the bad news.
I love those conversations for what they are, and I wouldn’t change them one bit, because we should be loudly celebrating when good things happen, and there are consequences when things go wrong, and goodness knows, our family loves a good argument. This conversation was different. I know their voices were lowered because they were getting ready for bed, but it also gave the impression that I was listening to three “men” talking, and it hit me: I was.
As the house settled and the evening grew quieter, I could hear more of their conversation.
Of course, they were talking about their hunting plans for the next day, but it was a combination of the Wonderful Husband telling stories of his own hunts, mixed with Q&A from the boys. For once, instead of being rushed and hassled by the ongoing stresses of life, the WH was free to answer their questions and spin more tales. Their conversation meandered through the hunting seasons. The boys each have a few under their belts now, so they have a few “remember when” stories of their own.
The WH’s stories were full of colorful characters that the boys have only gotten to know through stories, dogs that have long since departed this world for happier hunting grounds, and references to the mounts and skins that are currently hanging on our walls. Eventually the conversation dwindled down to two voices, and eventually one, and then all was quiet.
I don’t know that you could get three men who are more different from my three guys, especially when you consider they all share the same DNA and live under the same roof. There is A, the studious, self-professed “nerd,” a die-hard member of the marching band, and a relatively new devotee of Dungeons & Dragons. There is G, the smart-alecky class clown who loves his team sports, as much for the camaraderie as for the athleticism, who hides his razor-sharp intellect, and knack for playing the saxophone, under a snarky exterior.
And finally, there is the WH, the consummate outdoorsman, with a studious quiet side, who has morphed from the long-haired, earring wearing, whitewater rafting guide that he was when we were first friends back in high school, into a professional who prefers a neat buzz cut and polo shirts in his 9-to-5 job, and is a wizard at fixing everything from furnaces to leaking pipes to electrical outlets.
As I listened to them, pieces of their individuality flitted through the conversation, and certainly added to the entertainment value. Typically, G will tune out of the conversation as soon as A brings up Dungeons & Dragons for the thousandth time. A can roll his eyes like no one’s business when G is discussing his success from the foul line. And we all groan when the WH is on a tirade about how stressful his job is. But, their conversation on common ground allowed for the occasional reference to their own passions, and for once there were no interruptions or eye rolls.
One of the most striking things to me was how much time the WH spent listening to the stories the boys told. Even though he was there for each and every hunting and fishing trip they’ve ever been on, he refrained from correcting them or adding any embellishment of his own. In our harried, busy lives, sometimes it’s just too easy to talk over them or give them short shrift, but for once, everyone got to bring their story to the table and tell their tales.
By the next morning, everyone was back to squabbling over who took the last bagel and who forgot to hang up their pants to dry and it was like those few precious hours of shared common ground never happened. As they trooped out into the cold morning, complaining and bickering the whole time, I drifted back to sleep knowing that soon they’d be making more memories together to share in those peaceful hours before bedtime.
Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.