P for Painted Cups + Punching Bags
It was a hot, monsoon-like evening in June of 2014. Daniel and I had just began dating a few months prior and could barely survive a day away from the other. I just graduated college and he had one more year to go. Our jobs consisted of minimum wage but our happiness consisted of each other. The Arizona summer evenings were warm but the afternoons felt as if the sun was cruelly and personally punishing you - continuously. There is not much to do in the southwest summer besides swimming or going to the movies. Since we had already watched every big screen summer blockbuster and the sun reprimanded me from our swim the day before, Daniel had something a little different in mind.
We sat on the cool aluminum stools in the studio, side by side, with a blank coffee cup in each pair of hands. I was to paint his and he was to paint mine. As silly as it was to paint mugs used to hold sizzling hot liquid while it was still no less than 105 degrees out (with the sun down!), we did not mind. It was our first little project together and it was Daniel’s date night idea. There we were drawing hearts, sunsets, and stick figures on the ceramic cups we promised to keep forever – just like each other’s hearts.
Flash forward 3 years. We have been married a year.
We are stressing about our jobs. We are stressing about saving money for our house.
We are stressing out each other.
Before building a house, we were free to spend our earnings as we pleased. We were DINKS! (Double Income No Kids). But when you go from feeling like a baller to a budget…you can get a quite irritable to say the very least.
They say the first year of marriage is hardest and I beg to differ. The first year of marriage is pure, romantic, honeymoon, passionate bliss.
The second year is what really tests your vows of, “for richer or for poorer”.
We were unsure of the stability of employment
(sketchy rumors around both of our offices – that, in the long run, thankfully turned out to be untrue).
Unsure if the check engine light on our 11-year-old truck meant a dying transmission
(hey, we have student loans to pay!).
Unsure if we could afford classes for my next degree
(hence my previous parentheses).
Yet barely sure, we had saved the second half of the earnest money by the time our house was framed
(yes, we are a bit dramatic).
We kept these uncertainties as excuses to use each other as punching bags – figuratively.
“If only you made more money.”
“If only you were born rich.”
Those comments were unnecessary pressure we put on each other and it solved absolutely nothing. It did not make either of us richer. It did not make either of us calmer.
Why is it that the person we love most is who we take out our ugliest frustrations on?
Then…as I was unloading the dishwasher (because I clean furiously when I’m in a tizzy – just call me Monica Gellar), those two little painted cups emerged from the top rack. My blood stopped boiling, my smile lifted, and I was back under those unflattering fluorescent lights painting a heart at the bottom of the inside of Daniel’s mug. I took a deep breath. I filled up both cups with (iced) coffee and sat on the couch next to Daniel.
We painted those mugs when we barely had enough money to fill our gas tanks. Yet here we are, married and approved for a home loan, complaining at the other because we felt that none of what we had already built was enough.
I looked at him.
He looked at me.
We smiled because we knew.
We have enough. We are enough.
In the end, everything worked out - we built our house, we moved in, we kept our jobs.
We kept each other.