I have come to believe that in many marriages there is one partner who has their head in the clouds and another who helps keep both people anchored to the ground. Anyone who knows me knows that my head is not in clouds; it’s often in another dimension. No one knows this better than the Big Guy, so, last night, when I casually moved the new dark green shrub to the edge of the counter as I unloaded the grocery bags, he raised an eyebrow but didn’t ask what had prompted the purchase.
The plant was just the end of a journey I had started two days ago on the first sunny afternoon since the official start of spring. For the first time since I’d claimed my Mom-Cave at the back of the house, I minded that my cozy winter cocoon lacks a view of the impending greening of our yard. Our house is earth-sheltered, and, while all the bedrooms and family areas look towards the forest and fields that border our yard, the bathrooms and the study are tucked into the back part of the house, which is buried under three feet of dirt.
All of this made my first thought – how could I install a window – just a tad irrational. When I returned this dimension at five A.M. the next morning, I considered other options as I wrote. Taking over the one unoccupied bedroom/winter laundry room isn’t feasible for the longterm (the boys are getting old enough for their own rooms). Then I though about moving to our well-lit, but unheated, attic. My mind churned as I mentally figured out heating and decor for the space. The Big Guy has plans for most of that space, however, so I nixed the idea. Then came a stroke though, sadly, not of genius. It was the stroke I envisioned the Big Guy experiencing when I finished pitching my next plan – remodeling the upstairs and the downstairs with a workshop, study and guest-area down and family bedrooms up.
The Big Guy popped his head in as he was heading out to work, bringing me back to the ground. I posted my posts, got the kids to school and returned to the Mom-Cave for the next 8 hours of my Work-At-Home-Job. My 3 minute dance sessions – my latest attempt to get more movement (not exercise, just movement) – reminded me there was another advantage to working in a room without windows. Maybe I could find a way to make it feel less claustrophobic for the summer.
I googled windowless offices. Google gave me white offices (straight from the pages of the Neat & Childless Magazine), walls with trompe l’oeil murals, mirrors built into reclaimed windows, and plants. I remembered the houseplant cemetery we call a forest and took closer look at the mirrors, stumbling on to a gorgeous and, most important, affordable distressed window with a mirror behind it. I saved the page just as the Big Guy got home with the boys.
“Look at this mirror,” I said, not mentioning my other decorating ideas. “Don’t you think it would brighten up the office?”
“I guess do,” replied my husband with practiced composure. I don’t have hard scientific data on this, but it’s my suspicion that nothing strikes fear into the heart of a married man like the words, “I have an idea”. To I decided not to reveal my endgame (however much it had shrunk), and the conversation ended.
The next afternoon, I announced I needed to get some groceries after work and headed into town. The mirror was still in mind, but as I guided my cart through the aisles, I wandered into the nursery area. The aroma of dozens of Easter lilies and hyacinths assaulted me. I explored, remembering the plant idea and started hunting for something that looked like it would do well in extreme shade. A few minutes later, I emerged from a corner with a nameless plant whose directions to keep it out of sun and not overwater reassured me it might not join its predecessors in the woods as compost.
When I had the last of the groceries put away, I picked up the plant to take it to its new home in the Mom-Cave.
“What do you think?” I asked. “I just thought the room could use a little green.” The Big Guy just nodded and got to work on the latest incarnation of his famous pasta sauce. After +16 years of being the anchor in our marriage, he knows that a cigar may just be a cigar, but a plant is never just a plant.