Posted by: Marie | July 3, 2014

(946) Lessons in renegotiation – Part 2 of 7

Post #946
[Private journal entry written near bedtime on Saturday, September 1, 2012 – continued from previous post]

As I was rinsing off the last of the soap, I decided that the most important thing to me is that we spend time together. It is not important that we do this thing instead of that thing. Keeping the peace – giving her what she really wants – is worth $30 to me.

After I dried off and got dressed, I sat down with Melodie again. I told her that we don’t have time to go to all of the ghost towns, but that she could pick one – or two if the second town is close to the first one – and I’d be willing to travel there. I told her it would be really nice if the one or two ghost towns were not too far away . . . the less fuel we consumed, the better . . .

And . . . I told her that it is important to me that we visit my ancestors’ gravesites and that I still get to attend the concert at the Opera House tomorrow afternoon, which means we can’t go driving long distances tomorrow. She said that was more than fair.

So, I asked her what town she most wanted to visit. Her answer was: Collyer, Kansas. I asked how far away it is from Red Cloud. She said it was about 150 miles (241 km) one way. I really was hoping for something closer, but she was obsessed with this town, it’s what she really wants . . . so, I agreed to go there.

We pulled out the map book and started laying out a route . . .

We determined that we could drop south out of Red Cloud to get to the Interstate Highway, then we could go west on the Interstate all the way into Collyer. Then, we could backtrack on the Interstate for a few miles and then head north to one of the cemeteries. Finally, we’d complete a big square by heading east into Red Cloud.

When we checked into the cottage yesterday, we made arrangements with Ardis, the owner of the cottage, to tour the schoolhouse this morning at 8:30. We figured we would need maybe 30 minutes for that. So, as part of our planning this morning, we determined that we could get on the road by 9:15. If we then stopped somewhere along the way for lunch, we could arrive in Collyer around 2:00. If we spent two hours there, we could get to the cemetery by 6:00pm. We’d only need maybe 30 minutes there, then we’d be back to the cottage by 7:30 or 8:00pm. That seemed do-able.

So . . . here’s the deal with driving and navigation . . .

Melodie does fine driving in the area around where she lives. However, I am very scared to ride with her on roads with which she is not familiar . . . and that’s all I’ll say about that. She always lets me drive in unknown territory because she knows I am much, much easier to get along with when I am driving than when I am a passenger. It’s been our arrangement for years and years – it is a given.

That means that she is the official navigator. Unfortunately, she is not the best map reader in the world. I have learned from experience that it is best if I study the map thoroughly before we leave. Then, when she gives me navigational instructions that are inaccurate, I can request that she double check the map because it doesn’t sound quite right to me . . .

Fortunately, it is easy for me to study a map and get the relevant highways and towns memorized and organized into a mental map. Within 5-10 minutes, I can easily etch into my memory a route with 10-15 turns in it. That comes in handy when one is traveling by oneself . . . or with someone who is map-challenged.

After we figured out the route, I told her I needed a few minutes to study the map in detail. I was hoping that she would take that to mean that I needed to be left alone to do that . . . but, no. She stayed right next to me and helped me study it. She described the route to me . . . what highways we would travel, what towns we would pass through . . . all the details I could easily see for myself.

I stated that I needed to study the map in peace . . . as in, without her help . . .

“Well, I’m just showing you the route.”

“I know. But, I already know the route, I just need to study it for a few minutes.”

“If you know the route, why do you need to study it?”

“I just do . . . I prefer to have a good idea where I’m going.”

“But I’ll tell you where to go.”

“I know . . . but it is good for both of us to know where we are going . . . it makes me feel better to have an idea of where we are going.”

“Well, fine.”

She continued to sit next to me for another minute . . . and then she leaned closer and started looking at the map again. She ran her finger along the route . . .

I had been getting ready to turn the page of the map book to look at an adjacent area, and I had a finger under the edge of the page in preparation . . . I asked her if it was okay for me to turn the page . . . she said “sure” . . . I started to turn the page . . .

She reached across in front of me and tried to help me turn the page . . . it was almost like we were wrestling for control of the page . . . she nearly hit me in the nose with her elbow . . .

I let go of the map book and let it fall into my lap . . . then I took several deep breaths . . .

As calmly as I could, I said, “Melodie, I need some personal space right now. I need for you to go find a different part of the cottage to be in. I need for you to not be next to me for a few moments. I need some peace so I can study the map. Can you give that to me, please?”

She laughed a rather sarcastic laugh and mimicked me, “I need my personal space . . . I need my personal space . . .” Then, she stood up, laughed and flippantly said, “Okay, fine, I’ll give you some personal space!” With that, she got up and headed off to load her stuff in the car . . .

At that point, I was having second thoughts about being able to make the road trip with her. She has always been this way to some extent, but I don’t remember it being this pervasive. It seems that she feels a very strong need to be enmeshed with my physical and energetic space – more than I ever remember previously.

Either I’m far more sensitive than I was even two years ago, or she is far more clingy than she was two years ago . . . or maybe a little bit of both. Or, maybe she is reacting to my establishing boundaries by becoming clingier . . .

Whatever the cause, I was really struggling to deal with it. It felt like I was a parent dealing with my adolescent child.

I started praying for patience.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

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