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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Waiting Isn't the Hardest Part

I have a sickle-shaped scar that bisects my left eyebrow--a permanent, physical reminder of what can happen when one does not heed the advice of another older and wiser person trying to spare them pain.

At twenty years old I was newly married and, having spent a day off from my bank teller job to have satellite cable installed, very bored. Youth and boredom...the oldest recipe for disaster known to mankind.

My twenty-four-year-old husband had left instructions for the satellite installer to set up the dish and receivers but to leave the running of the coax cable between them to him. There would be holes to drill through our pristine flooring and sheet rock, and the hubs preferred to be the one making such permanent alterations. "What did some cable guy care about ruining our brand new home?" he'd asked. Never mind that it sat on an underpinned chassy. (We'd bought it new from the mobile home dealership Hubs worked for. Another lesson was to be learned here, but that's a story for another day.)

So, there I sat: twenty years-old in my first adult home surrounded by cow pastures in the middle of the bustling city village hamlet of Lincoln, Alabama with perfectly good satellite television coursing through a coax cable connected to neither of two perfectly good TVs.

There was no way I was willing to wait another four hours for the return of my husband from work. However, neither was I too keen to wield any of his power tools or go making holes willy-nilly through vinyl siding and wall board. Some good sense did prevail that day. What I did consider myself entirely capable of was throwing the coax cable, lasso style, over the 16ft width of the mobile home so that I could fish it in through the window closest to the living room television.

Hubs had said to wait for him. He'd said he knew exactly what he was doing and that within 45 minutes of his return from work that day I would be watching Seinfeld or Dawson's Creek or whatever was showing on any of two hundred other channels. He'd said to wait...but wait I did not.

[What I guess I thought I looked like.]
{Photo Credit: American Broadcasting Company}

Standing a few yards from the trailer, I stood with my feet shoulder width apart and gathered the long coax cable in my right hand. I swung loops of it around and around over my head, and when I thought I'd built up sufficient momentum, I released it. I heard the thwack of the cable high up near the roof at virtually the same time as I saw a blinding white light. Then came the sting of pain.

The metal end of the coax cable had ricocheted off the siding and rebounded to hit me directly on my brow bone. Warm blood coursed down my face as I regathered the cable and tried again. The second time I made it, the cable clearing the roof in a perfect arc before I ran indoors to see what I'd done to myself in the names of Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson.

[What it looked like in my memory. I'm a tad dramatic, what can I say?]
{Photo Credit:}

My left eyebrow was sliced in a way that made if flay open every time I wailed into the mirror or made any sort of facial expression whatsoever. To one side of the half-circle incision there was even a tiny puncture wound from the narrow wire that would shortly be inserted into the receiver box.

As a twenty-year-old, I maimed myself for satellite cable.

A couple of weeks ago my second husband checked our mail to find a marriage certificate for our oldest child. Junior turned twenty in September and is stationed with the Army in Colorado. His high school girlfriend paid him a visit out there a few weeks ago and they eloped.

They didn't tell anyone, didn't ask any of their parents if we thought it was a good idea. They just did it. And while we were all very surprised, I, at least, have wrestled with whether or not I believe this will be a decision either of them look back on years from now and wish they'd let someone a little older and wiser advise them about.

She's a great girl. Pretty and smart. Responsible and driven. She's a year or so older than our son and has already earned an Associates Degree. He's loved her since he was sixteen. She will make him happy. She already makes him happy.

I can't say exactly what I might have told him, if my son had asked me what I thought about an elopement. But I can guarantee it would have been something like, "Don't. Wait. I know what I'm talking about, and if you'll just wait a little while things will work out so much better."

Now that the deed has been done I can see that my probable reaction is precisely why he didn't consult me or anyone else for that matter. His father and I were both married at twenty, though not to each other, and while in the past I might have hoped this fact alone would have served as some warning to my young son, I now accept that not only can he not use my and his father's "failures" when contemplating his own decisions, but that our missteps will not necessarily be his missteps. He's learned from the experiences that have shaped his parents by proxy. He and his wife (my God, it's still so weird to think those words much less see them in print) are not their parents. They are leagues ahead of where we were and starting their life together with surer footing than we were capable of for years.

Still, waiting wouldn't have been the hardest part. It never is. In marriage or in life. The hardest parts will come later. I hope my son and new daughter-in-law will let us be there for those times, that they'll trust us to spare them what pain we're able to.

My marriage at the age of twenty didn't last. I no longer own the mobile home my first husband was so careful with. I've been through at least three more cable providers. But I still have the scar I foolishly earned one day that I just couldn't wait. Deep down I guess I don't really regret any of it. I don't think my son will either.