Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Best Christmas Presents

It really has been a wonderful day. I got all sorts of great presents, including things that really reflect who I am (e.g., a book on Q school from Coffee Jones, who probably doesn't know much about how golfers get onto the PGA tour and must surely care even less!) and things that are just fun to have, like a mini-IQ test. (That last one is curious -- on the top of the box, it explains that people with IQs of 130 or more make up 2.2% of the population; on the side is says, "130 I.Q. -- smarter than 98% of population." Um, we round up?) I love everything I got, and I'm very grateful. (Thank you notes are in the mail, btw...)

But at the end of the day, I know what the two best presents are: my companions for the weekend. That they are my current- and ex-husband is just part of what makes me quirky. But it's how well that particular situation is going that is the real gift. And believe me, it's not something I could make work single-handedly.

I can't do the set-up justice. You'll just have to believe me when I say that all the obvious pitfalls are missing. There's no sexual jealousy. The men in question don't indulge in testosterone-based challenges, gambits or games. There isn't even that much competition for the middle link, namely me. (Hey, I'm down in my office now, alone, while they're amusing themselves elsewhere in the house.) They aren't best friends, Starman & Hub 1.0, but they get along okay.

The one thing I am honest about is why it matters so much to me to have Hub 1.0 here. He's my family. I've known him for over 36 years, although for much of that time we were on opposite sides of the Atlantic and not in touch at all. I would love it if this meant we had shared history, but Hub 1.0's memory is lamentable, so he recalls nothing of any (distant) past dealings with me. He's more like my brother than my brothers are. Hub cares about me, in an admittedly tepid fashion, but if I'm sick or hurt, he makes this sweet, dorky soothing noise over the phone, and I cheer up mostly from the silliness. I can tell Hub stuff and he knows the context of my life. He's familiar and stable, and he treats me with good will. Where I come from, that counts for a lot.

At the same time, I've been thinking a lot about how wonderful Starman is. You know that expression, "He's just not that into you"? Well, Starman is really into me. He thinks I'm smart and lovely. He really believes that he's the lucky one!

And comparisons are odious, so I avoid them where Hub 1.0 and Starman are concerned. That's mostly not hard; they are very different people once you get past the British/cryptic crosswords/technogeek thing. But this weekend I had an epiphany about them, and their attitudes about me. Hub 1.0 had been languishing in an okay-but-nothing-special life in the U.K. when I swept in and whisked him back to the U.S. And his life in the U.S. is, I believe, undeniably better than it was in the U.K. But he wasn't all that thrilled with my role in that transformation. To say he resented me would overstate the matter considerably, but I don't think it's wrong to say that he didn't romanticize it either.

By contrast, Starman really loves his life here at Harmony and with me. He doesn't gush with gratitude, either -- this is no green card marriage! -- but he is grateful to be here and with me. Where I was a transit point with Hub, I'm the destination for Starman. And it's awfully nice to see that in his eyes!

For me, I really feel lucky twice over. I truly love Hub 1.0 -- but I can see now how monochromatic our marriage was. A lovely marriage, but a bit . . . bland, perhaps? Certainly all the feeling I have for him fits neatly into the quasi-sibling relationship we have now. That wouldn't work with my feelings for Starman, that's for sure.

But enough about me, what about them? Well, I don't know about Hub -- and he can comment if he needs to set the record straight -- but I know it's been a challenge for Starman to accept that a connection to Hub was part of the package deal. Mind you, they knew each other before I came on the scene, but not well, and it was an acquaintance strictly framed by their mutual interest in crosswords. Geography helps here; Hub lives 160 miles away, and we only see him a handful of times per year. If he lived down the road, this might not work.

Well, it wouldn't work now if they didn't make it work. And that's saying a lot. I really have to give them both credit, and I hope they get something good out of it for their trouble. If nothing else, I get a lot. I get a mini-family all my own. I get someone to invite for the holidays, and the fun of planning things for all three of us to do together. (Jigsaws, games, puzzles, movies, walks down the storm-damaged dirt road . . . just the same sort of family stuff everyone does at the holidays, right?) I get a feeling of belonging, and of mattering. I get to share.

So thanks, guys. Thanks for giving me a warm, peaceful, happy Christmas. Thanks for making this house feel like a family home, and not just a couple-specific abode. Thanks for being my past, my present, and my future. I have truly never been happier.

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