“We need to learn to fight better,” he said.
“I think the problem with us getting along so well all the time is that when something goes wrong, we don’t know how to figure it out!” What he said was true. We would disagree, gently, quietly, and then step away from each other, overly frustrated and needing space, until we were able to come together again to discuss what had gone wrong.
I looked at him thoughtfully and said, “I agree.” But really, I didn’t mind this style of arguing. I much preferred it to being yelled at, feeling unheard and picked on, or worse. I appreciated the time it gave me to step back and process, to straighten out my thoughts and separate them from my hyperactive emotions. What I didn’t care for was the time it took. The time spent wondering what he was thinking, what was brewing, what was growing into something bigger. Often, I was ready to move forward before he was, but my pride or stubborn nature, or both, didn’t always allow me the words to get started. Sometimes, I had to use other tactics.
We looked at each other from opposite sides of the bed – he fluffing pillows, me folding pants from the dryer. “Listen,” I said. “I have to get dinner going.”
He didn’t know that hours before, I’d already begun to plan the end of our fight. I’d pulled dough and put it out in five bunches on the table, I’d enlisted chopping of ingredients, I’d gone to the store for mozzarella.
No one can maintain a fight through pizza night. It’s a community effort – sharing, suggesting, cooperating. It’s foolproof. No one can stay mad when there’s pizza.
It certainly helped when Sade came on the stereo. I’d turned the music on when my daughter and I were doing the dishes, then laundry, then fort-building; we’d run through Maxwell, Leonard Cohen, Drake and Wilco, and now it was pizza making time, and Sade eased onto the scene.
“You trying to work some voodoo magic on me here?” he asked, looking at me sideways, then glancing at the stereo.
“I know what it takes” I answered, even though I’d had no part in this. We were hearing a leftover music lineup from two weeks ago.
“Do you?” He paused next to me, the closest we’d stood since before the argument. Our shoulders buzzed at the proximity.
“Well. Maybe not,” I told him. “But I try.” He smiled. I knew it was okay then.
Later, in bed, after we’d talked and finally understood each other, after he’d read and written and I’d written and read and was back to the former, he snapped his book shut, took off his glasses and turned to me.
“Are you writing our story?”
“Always,” I answered. And then, “thanks for letting me.”