In sickness and in hoops
Last Friday, I was presented with the chance to score (<—see what I did there?) a free, full-sized basketball goal to come live permanently at our house. Noah has fervently wished we owned one ever since he joined his first basketball team at age 7, but we knew we wouldn’t be granting that wish any time soon because A.) they’re expensive B.) we had nowhere to put one, and C.) see point A.).
But when this offer popped up, I happened to be home, and the lure of freeeeeee was too strong, so I walked outside, surveyed the possibilities around our house, and walked back inside a few minutes later with a harebrained idea.
Let it be known that in this marriage between L and I, I am the cockamamie idealist. Viva la projects! Viva la change! Viva la new and different! My ideas, of course, are not always good ones. Some people might even say my enthusiasm overrides my good sense from time to time. L is steadier, more practical. And probably the reason we are not all run ragged and flat broke. He yins and I yang. I zig, and he … thinks of reasons zigging is not the best plan. We complement each other in this way. This sometimes infuriating, sometimes hard-to-navigate, I-wish-you-could-just-see-my-side-of-it way.
So when I called him, in the middle of the workday, to share my plan to break down, transport and assemble a basketball goal that I was only 65% sure would fit into the space I planned to put it in, I knew there was a strong chance he wouldn’t be for it. But I dialed the number anyway. A practice, it seems, is at the heart of what’s good about a partnership: being able to dial the number anyway.
“So, I have this harebrained idea …”
One particular night of despair after work about a month ago, I was unloading my woe over the dearth of un-busy time in our life and the speed at which our day-to-day seemed to be whizzing by in a blur, and when I finally paused long enough to take a breath, L said calmly from his spot beside me on the couch, “So, when can you quit this job?”
Coming from anyone else, that kind of question would be just one of those things you say in a conversation. Sounds tough—you should change things! But L is far from anyone else; aside from the fact that he shares the life that is afforded, in part, by the paycheck I bring home, he is and always has been someone who does not take decisions lightly or make them quickly—and I knew that. (And he knew that I knew that.) (And I knew that he knew that I knew … Etc.)
But there they were: seven words, offered freely, pricking a small hole into the pent-up balloon of my stress. And with them, I was released.
We hauled the hoop in the back of our car and wheeled it down to the place it would live, having hacked away at the surrounding bush like jungle explorers all afternoon, rolling away the ground cover blanketing the driveway like a carpet. What was (in my mind) to be an hour-long escapade was turning into two hours … and then three …
L stood atop a step stool,
10-pound 35-pound (ED. NOTE: L read this and asked me to more accurately reflect the situation—though I gave him a little pushback about changing it to 400 pounds) backboard raised high above his head, beads of sweat rolling down his face, while I fumbled with nuts and bolts, weakly spotting his attempt, and tried to keep Max from swallowing the rest of the hardware, or throwing it into the backyard.
“The post won’t … fit (shove) … into (shove)… PLACE (SHOVE).”
“How can I help?”
“I don’t know. I’ve lost all the blood in both arms, and possibly my brain.”
“You’re the best for doing this. Really.”
“Yeah. And, bonus, now Max knows three new curse words.”
“… really grateful. Like, so, so grateful.”
In the end, the post did go in. The free throw line was established, the slam dunk ledge proclaimed. And now, in the afternoons, once Noah and I return home after our stroll back from school, the postlude to my work day is the sound of a bouncing ball, reverberating off the back siding of the house. It’s only a two-day old soundtrack, and already I know I’ll miss it once the kids who shoot the ball are grown and gone.
L, thanks for losing the blood in both your arms so I can miss that soundtrack one day. And thanks for always being on my team.
(You know I know you know what I mean.)