Pop The Balloon
Single PagePage 2 of 4
Prior to every race thereafter, Dad would give me a fist bump and offer a simple pre-game pep talk: "Pop the balloon."
The phrase became a code of sorts between us. Whenever something daunting came my way—when I had to give a speech in front of a stadium full of people at graduation, when my parents dropped me off in a strange city for college, when I interviewed for my first job, when I bought my first house—my dad, man of few words, would catch my eye and say, "Pop the balloon."
So on the cusp of saying, "I do," I shouldn't have been surprised that Dad would give me away with his now-classic catchphrase.
"Marriage is a wonderful thing," Dad said. "But there are going to be hard parts. There's no way around it. When those times come, you're going to have to dig deep and push through together. You're going to have to pop the balloon."
At the time, I had a vague sense of what he was talking about. But in the glowy, candlelit evening, my hand clasped by a handsome man who wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, my heart felt so full it was liable to burst. I wasn't naive enough to think we would be the first couple to never face conflict or deal with tough situations. But that night I really couldn't imagine anything that would necessitate a balloon-popping session.
That was almost a year ago, and I'm realizing already that Dad was onto something. Real life has a way of forcing its way in and trying to sabotage even the truest of loves, the sweetest of honeymoons. In the span of just eleven months, the ceiling by the skylight has sprouted some funky-looking mold, the student loans are begging for attention, and there's a looming job decision to be made. Two calendars need to be wrestled into one; two bank accounts need to converge. And there are balances to be struck—the introvert and the social butterfly, the planner and the one who flies by the seat of her pants, the timely one and the one who is always trying to squeeze in one last thing. And that's just the low-level hurdles.
How do we navigate when one of us is relationally maxed out and the other is still aching for community? How do we strike a compromise when one of us has approximately 5,000 words left at dinnertime and the other is running on empty? How do we find middle ground when one of us thinks we should celebrate our first anniversary in New York City and the other envisions a campground in Iowa? How do we put salve on the other's wounds … especially when it was our own words that sliced the flesh? How do we see each other with all our blemishes exposed and accept the whole package with grace?
Page 2 of 4 Next Page...