Tuesday, December 17, 2013
How Sweet It Is (To Wait Sometimes)
I can’t believe I’m about to say this–the guy who hates waiting for anything, who wants everything yesterday–but, sometimes, things are so much sweeter the longer we wait for them.
Take, for example, two weeks ago. I was in our master bedroom closet, moving around some clothes, when I saw a large cardboard tube in the corner, with the word Regis repeatedly printed in swirls around it. I hadn’t come across this tube in nearly five years, not since our last move.
For those of you who don’t live in the area, Regis used to be/still is a local picture place, where you could/can buy various posters, from those of teen crushes to art prints, as well as get them framed (I don’t know if any Regis outlets are still open; I haven’t seen one in a long time). Without looking inside the tube, I knew what was it contained.
Many years ago, shortly after Chris and I moved in together (if I remember correctly), he special-ordered a print, either for my birthday or Christmas, when we still bought gifts (now, if we buy anything for each other, it’s usually of nominal value).
At the time, our apartment was decorated with a assortment of Disney-themed prints–from art posters of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, to commemorative prints of the theme parks (for example, the fifteenth anniversary of Walt Disney World in Florida). What can I say? I was a huge Disney fan at the time. Still am, especially of the one-and-only, original Disney theme park, Disneyland, in Anaheim, California. But my feelings about The Walt Disney Company in general are more measured now.
At any rate, Chris special-ordered this print for me. I remember thinking at the time it was one of the nicest, if not the nicest, print in my collection. In the style of an American folk art wood painting, with a little aging thrown in, it featured a full-on portrait of Mickey Mouse from his heyday back in the early to mid-twentieth century, with a red, white, and blue banner surrounding it. Very American for a Canadian, to be sure, but entirely appealing to a Disney fanatic like me.
I don’t know why, but, for some reason, I didn’t get the print framed right away. Perhaps I didn’t have the money at the time. Perhaps I thought our walls already had enough Disney art on them. Perhaps, since we’d just moved in together and decorated our apartment with everything I owned, I believed it was time we bought something together, a non-Disney piece, so Chris felt like he hadn’t moved into my place.
Fast forward some nineteen or so years, there I was in my closet, picture tube in hand. And reminiscing about how many places Chris and I had moved together over the years, each time packing up the tube in a wardrobe box and bringing it with us–our condo in Fairview Slopes in Vancouver, a rental on Songhees in Victoria, our townhouse up from Mayfair Mall in Victoria, and, finally, our single-family home in the Lower Mainland, where we live now. That tube and print have seen a lot of miles and years, yet it’s still around. Thankfully, it didn’t get lost in the shuffle somewhere.
I brought the tube downstairs where Chris sat at the island in the kitchen, reading the newspaper. “Remember this?” I asked, pulling the large plastic plug out of the end of it, rolling the print inside tighter with my fingers, and removing it carefully. After I laid it on the island and opened it, I secured the corners with whatever heavy items were available. Then we looked at it. To me, it was even more beautiful than I remembered.
I suspect Chris knew from my comments that I was disappointed I’d never had it framed over the years. It occurred to me that he must have thought the reason why I hadn’t, when I’d earned my own income and could have afforded it, was because it wasn’t worth it, didn’t measure up to all the other Disney pictures I already had. Of course, he would have been wrong. (By the way, the other framed Disney prints are long gone. I donated all of them to a garage sale the staff at the centre I worked at in Victoria at the time held in support of a local hospital, selling all six or seven for $150, a fraction of what they cost me. As I recall, they were bought by a fellow who planned to hang them in a place for children. That was a good enough reason for me to let them go for such a small amount.)
I was so glad when Chris spoke up and suggested the time had come to get the print framed. I couldn’t have agreed more.
Several hours later, we stood in our local Michael's outlet, playing around with an assortment of different colored matte samples and wooden frames, eventually agreeing on a combination that not only complemented the print but also retained the spirit of it. We paid our money–a hell of a lot more than I would have thought, even at a supposed 60% discount–and were told it would be ready within two weeks.
This last Friday, after dinner at home, Chris and I drove to Michael's to pick up the framed print. The young lady there set it on the counter, lifted the masking tape, and carefully opened the craft paper wrapped around it.
I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the result, but not for the most obvious reasons.
Sure, it’s a classy, tasteful Disney print, representing both the better parts of the Disney I still cherish, as well as a whole other era of my life. Sure, it’s professionally matted and framed. And, sure, I'll be able to see it every time I look up from the table in my writing room.
But it’s also about Chris, the man I’ve loved with all my heart for many years, whose thoughtfulness, at a time when he was about half his age, overwhelmed me then and still overwhelms me now.
And it’s about us.
We were going through a rough time back then. Something happened between us that shook my foundation and made me doubt we’d last as a couple for another month, let alone for another twenty years.
That framed picture is a symbol, really–of what we’ve been through together, of our commitment to each other, and of our enduring love. Every time I look at it, I will smile and think about how remarkable life is sometimes, how fortunate I am, and how things couldn’t have turned out better for us.
It would have been simple to have that print framed when I first received it. But I can't tell you how waiting, and framing it now, means so much more.