A long term relationship, call it a marriage for sake of the argument, is like a beautiful, but worn, carpet. The patterns are worn but the colors remain, the beauty is in the aging. A beautiful old carpet is better than a new one.
Who’s arguing anyway? My husband and I, Joe and me, we have been together for 27 years and are becoming our parents. We have plenty of good times and laughter and joy, but we argue too. Sometimes they are important arguments and sometimes they just end in “Oh, fuck off.”
We met when we were twenty years old and have been together for about 27 years, or our entire adult lives.
One way out of a ridiculous argument, we find, is to quote a line out of a Woody Allen film, in which Woody is at home with his bickering parents. “Okay, the Atlantic Ocean is better than the Pacific Ocean, have it your way”! That usually amuses us right out of the argument.
But back to my analogy; I love carpets, I fantasize about owning a really nice Persian one and that is what I am picturing right now.
In my analogy carpet the original colors and pattern are strong and vivid in a few sections, but much of the color has faded and in some places the cross stitch beneath the pattern shows as an interwoven strong white thread.
The carpet makes the room though, with its wine red and aqua blue pattern.
The carpet collects dust, is hard to shake out and has corners that flip up and trip people as they enter the room.
There are stains that can be blamed on someone; who left the humidifier on the heirloom carpet? Yeah, well, who insisted we have cats in that apartment.
When someone trips over a wrinkle in the carpet it is someone’s fault. Every solution to every carpet problem has been discussed repeatedly and without end.
The couple has tried to move the carpet around so that they don’t wear a tread right across the pattern, but it only really fits the room in that position.
What am I talking about again? Oh yes, how a marriage is like that carpet.
You can get really tired of looking at the same old pattern every day, trying to resist the same thought patterns that follow along the same track without variation.
‘If we flip the carpet’, one of the married couple will say, ‘then we can stop treading on that turned up corner’.’ Yes, yes’, the other replies,’ we have gone through this. If we flip it then the burn mark will be right in the middle of the room and not under the plant where it is hidden now’. How many times have they had this conversation?
Heavy sigh from one side. ‘Why do we have this carpet here anyway? Why don’t we have bare floors like my house when I was a kid, much less dust’. The other one is now hurt and offended, ‘ But I like the carpet, it means a lot to me and reminds me of happier days, when we were young, and in love’.
‘Do you remember when we had to drag this carpet up four floors to that apartment in Saskatoon, and it got stuck’? ‘And it took the whole back seat just getting it here – what possessed us to take it with us everywhere we go’?
Married couples have shared memories, a world unto themselves. Every tendril in the dusty carpet’s pattern leads down endless roads of memories. They have a life lived together, which is an amazing gift.
At their best, they are old friends, whose predictability is comforting. They contemplate the same thoughts; they have the luxury of knowing that someone knows their patterns, and considers them valuable.
Dam, I just tripped over the curled up edge and spilt tea on my imaginary carpet. Oh well, it adds character.