The Five Stages
We all know that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. We have read books about how to successfully live with someone who's from another planet. Andy, unfortunately for me, is not from Mars nor Venus, but another planet altogether. Sometimes, I find him to be so unique that I'm sure no one else lives on this planet but him. I'm not much of a astronomer but I'm also sure that all the other planets in Andy's solar system do not orbit around the sun but instead his very unique, solitary planet, or, to be scientifically accurate, his own star. The girls and I are on the lightest planet, Planet Family, which orbits the heavy hitter, the heavy weight, the brightest of them all, the star with the strongest gravitational pull- known as Andy's Sun.
I'm pretty sure that Andy's Sun thinks it's characteristics mirror the Sun that the Earth orbits -near perfect, most important, responsible for all life. (Interestingly, I learned that the Sun is middle-aged- they really do have a lot in common!)
We can imagine what life is like for a super star, that isn't just larger than life, but is responsible for all life. But, what is life like for those light little planets circling in the sun's shadow? Let me give you an example. Please recall from middle school that the Earth revolves around the Sun every 365 days and a quarter. (Didn't know this, don't worry, it's all on Wikipedia.)So, planets are keeping track of time- like I said, 365 days AND A QUARTER! But, for the Sun, where nothing has changed much for 4 billion years, who's counting, right? So, for Andy's Sun, time is irrelevant.
Not getting my metaphor? Know enough about the solar system to know that I'm doing a really bad, very unscientific job of explaining the Sun? I got it. Let me break it down for you in a non-scientific way: Andy is always late. He doesn't care and his family always has to accommodate his tardiness. I confirmed this with his mother a long time ago, and he has been running late for 30 plus years.
Back to my example. Let me share with you a window into my experience dealing with a person who is always, always, always late (Did I mention that I love, love, love absolute words? Because I do.) I like to call my experience The Five Stages of Andy's Lateness.
Stage One: Doubt.
During this stage of Andy's Lateness, I am usually in the midst of something chaotic, like helping the kids with their homework while also making dinner. I might not even notice, at first, that Andy is late. When I do glance at the clock and realize he is 10-15 minutes late, I start to question my memory. I look at the dry erase calendar. I scan the paper calendar hanging next to it. I review my Google calendar and scan my emails. I wonder if he told me he was going to be somewhere and I just forgot because I forget a lot, which is why I manage so many calendars. Then, because I just forgot I was in the middle of dealing with family stuff, I get back to what I was doing and forget he is late.
The second stage of Andy's Lateness is Fear
When in this stage, the shortest of all of the stages, I pick up the phone and call Andy. I give it 60 seconds before calling again. Then, I send a text, "Hey! ETA?" Then, I sent three more texts, "E?" "T?" "A?" When I get no response, and I now calculate that 30 minutes have passed since Andy's expected time home, I begin to panic. I wait for the phone call or the police officer to pull into the driveway, telling me that an accident has happened. Why would someone not tell you they are running late unless they were injured in an accident because this is the only (absolute word use, if you are counting) the ONLY reason, THE ONLY EXCUSE for being late. EVER. That must be it. I consider calling the ER.
The third stage of Andy's Lateness is Annoyance
Every time (there's another absolute word for ya) Andy is late, I feel myself move quickly from the fear stage to the annoyance stage. While there is a chance Andy could be hurt, and a little nagging in my mind sure hopes he isn't, because he could be and then I'd feel really terrible, it's highly unlikely that he is in the ER. It's much more likely that he has lost track of time chatting on the phone, forgot to tell me he was running an errand on the way home, is collecting tenant rent money or got lost driving around a cul-de-sac in Oneonta that he confused for a short cut. Since there's no excuse for tardiness, other than an accident, and Andy has not replied to my texts or phone calls, and I've reconfirmed there's no meeting noted on any of the calendars, the familiar annoyance feeling comes creeping into my psyche. I look into my mind's eye at the tally mark chart I use to document Andy's tardiness, and start to get a bit grumpy about adding more tally mark to the tardy chart.
The fourth stage of Andy's Lateness is Anger.
Within seconds, I am Mrs. White and I can feel the flames, flames on the side of my face, breathing, breathless, heaping breaths. My Apple watch alerts me that my blood pressure is on the rise and it encourages me to take a 60 second time out to meditate. I consider changing my relationship status on Facebook to "It's Complicated". I send 10 text messages and receive no response. I strongly consider changing my Facebook relationship status to "Separated". I imagine myself throwing all of his clothes into the yard or posting his 9/11 collection on Ebay for 99 cents.
Here we are, at the final stage of Andy's Lateness, known as Acceptance.
I'm just (another fantastic absolute word) about to pack his clothes into a easy-to-toss box, and my finger is hovering over the "Save Changes" button on Facebook, when he comes, sheepishly, rolling through the door. He is completely disheveled, his pants are falling down, he's carrying three tote bags and a box filled with papers and a crumpled up McDonald's bag. I stand in front of him, my arms crossed, defensively, over my chest. I start asking questions, rapid fire, machine-gun style: Where were you? do you know what time it is? Did you get my texts? Did you see my phone calls? Did you tell me you were going to be late? Did you know you are burning in hell for this or at least no sex for a week? He looks like a small child who was just rescued after being lost in the woods for 48 hours with no water and nothing on but a diaper. He mutters something about going east on the highway instead of west and getting a phone call from a tenant about another tenant walking too loudly in his apartment, and I start to feel like the girl in the Sour Patch Kids commercial who is mad that the Sour Patch Kid who cut her ponytail off but still can't help thinking the Sour Patch Kid is so darn cute. He looks all roughed up and tired and confused because that's what driving 30 miles in the opposite direction and carrying around a cardboard box of papers does to you. After reprimanding him for about 20 minutes, I reveal the plate of food I've made, and kept warm, for him and start telling him all the boring things from the day I've been dying to share with him. I remember that I married him for who he is not who I wanted him to be and I must accept him as he is, lateness and all.
And so it goes. Day after day, 365 days and a 1/4. It's hard to stay mad at the brightest star in your sky. I always (absolute word!) forgive him.