Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It'll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields... and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?
The Lord of the Rings has often been a source for apt little analogies in my life when things are going rough.
A long time ago, I wrote an entry about a friend who was addicted to heroin. The power of the One Ring had taken him, and he was like Bilbo, on the way to being Gollum, and I wanted my own little Frodo back. But I knew he was forever changed.
And now he has sailed across the oceans with Gandalf and the Elves because of how deeply he was changed. The Shire may have been saved, but not for him.
This past weekend they broadcast "Return of the King" on TV, so I watched it through at least two times.
What struck me most was not that I've hired a lawyer to be my very own personal Gandalf facing off side by side with me as we defend Minas Tirith, or as he protects me from the Balrog that is Bank of America.
No, what struck me most is that my husband is my very own Samwise Gamgee.
I've been married to Doug for going on 20 years now. For ten years I've kept this journal of our lives, which some of you have been reading from the start. The story of my life, which is also his. We've been through a lot of fun, and a lot of crap. And this has to be the most craptacular part yet.
I feel like Frodo in a lot of ways, that this burden has had such an impact on me. And the burden has been pretty much mine because of how our relationship works. I pay the bills and Doug mows the lawn. Don't ask me how to run a snowthrower or climb up on the roof and repoint the DirectTV dish after winds of 60-70 miles an hour. I'm lost and useless when it comes to stuff like that. And Doug is forgetful when it comes to the day to day stuff. We make a pretty good team.
We both were in agreement when it came to contacting our bank to start the modification program. It wasn't like I said "I'll do this behind your back" and then we find ourselves in a mess. Like the "fellowship of the ring," we were two little hobbits who left the Shire with a mission to accomplish.
And right now, like I said, I'm so like Frodo. I'm defeated, weary, and I cannot recall the sound of water or the taste of strawberries.
When Sam says to Frodo in the movie, "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!" and lifts Frodo up upon his shoulders, I had to laugh and smile. That's my Doug right now.
We sat in the lawyer's office yesterday, and as the lawyer went out to photocopy some paperwork I almost started to cry. Doug took my hand and made some little jokes, made me laugh, and I said "thank you."
"For not being mad at me."
"I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at Bank of America."
"I know, but this is the kind of event that ruins couples, ruins marriages, and I'm so glad that you aren't mad at me. I've seen it happen to other people, and I've seen relationships ruined over a lot less than what we're looking at right now."
"Well, people are stupid," he said, and squeezed my hand.
I have watched several friends in relationships where money, mortgages, credit cards, spending and selfishness were the cause of their relationship demise. I have seen people break up over money a dozen times in this last year. Now, usually money itself isn't the problem, the relationship itself is flawed and awful, and sometimes unfixable. The damage being done, people just go ahead and steer the boat to the iceberg and then point a finger and jump.
Doug is right, people are stupid.
Right at this point I am aware, so wonderfully aware, of how lucky I am and have been for a long time. My good friend Nancy recently said to me that she has seen how Doug and I work together, at things in town or with the Boy Scouts, and how she sees that we "stand" by one another even in the little things. And she's right. I look back on our life together and it certainly has totally been a life of standing together.
Now, like Frodo, I need my Sam more than anything in the world. More than food, or strawberries, or even the recollection of strawberries. And I don't think Frodo realized it until after they'd completed their mission, so right now I want to truly recognize and ponder these things.
Add to it that yeah, the lawyer totally is our Gandalf, and I'm feeling much much better than yesterday.
For those of you who have been sending me mojo, you did good. Thank you.