TGIF: When Romance Looks Like a Subway Sandwich

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Farewell to Park Place_800 1

I.

It had been two weeks.

Two weeks of cardboard boxes, packing tape and garbage cluttering our apartment.

Two weeks of crawling into bed around 2am with a sore back and throbbing feet.

Two weeks of waking up disoriented, stubbing my toe on boxes and nursing an exhaustion hangover with earl grey tea.

Two weeks of zero cuddling before bed. Just a quick hand squeeze to let him know, “I’m still here. I’m so glad you’re still here too.”

II.

The night before our official move, Kupa and I found ourselves at a sushi restaurant for dinner. Our fridge was empty, except for the sketchy orange baking soda box hiding in the back. I was grateful that it was an All-You-Can-Eat affair because I wanted All-I-Could-Eat and All-He-Could-Eat too.

He wanted to reminisce about our first year of marriage and dream about our future as parents.

And I wanted to faceplant into a bowl of miso soup and pork gyozas.

Farewell Park Place_800-15

He asked BIG questions.

“Are you starting to feel like a mother?”
“Do you speak to the baby? What do you say?”
“Do you think our baby knows it’s a ‘being’?”

I offered a few monosyllabic answers and stared down the last California roll.

His final question broke my trance, ”Why don’t you engage me any more?”

“I’m tired and pregnant, babe. Bone-tired from the move.”

“Well … that explains this week. But you’ve seemed disconnected for a while.”

Perhaps it’s the pregnancy hormones but I’ve found my word count per day has plummeted over the last couple of months. Even though concern seemed etched all over his tired face, I felt completely uninspired to “engage.”

Of course, I was feeling things. But recently, I’d felt hopelessly incapable of converting my feelings into words.

I mean:

We were having a baby.
Holy Sashimi!

We were moving into a new apartment.
Bartender! Make it a double shot of jasmine tea.

We were entering Phase 2 of this marriage merry-go-round.
Eeeek!!! <insert more feelings that have not yet been converted into words>

And this Mama was tired, hungry, sleepy …

And mostly mute.

III.

Two days after the move, I lay comatose on the bed exhausted from unpacking boxes when my phone rang.

It was Kupa calling from our old apartment.

“I’m really going to miss this place,” he said. “I know you’re tired so I’m not asking, but I really wish we could’ve had one last date night here.”

I suddenly felt like I was standing at a crossroads.

Behind Door #1: I could stay home, wash my hair and eat take-out in my pjs.

Behind Door #2: I could put on uncomfortable pants, comb my greasy hair and make a memory.

Time was a freight train that slowed down for a second. I could hop onboard for an adventure or wave from the platform and let the moment whiz by.

I picked Door #2.

Sure, I was tired and dirty. But here was a guy who understood the significance of marking one moment before entering the threshold of the next. He was the sentimental dreamboat I’d hoped to meet in my twenties.

So I slapped on some mascara, put on my boots and stuffed my camera into my purse. I grabbed a tote bag and rummaged through my closet for the gorgeous hand-embroidered fabric I bought on my last trip to India. I packed two glasses, two coasters, two Lindt chocolates (read: dessert) and some baby’s breath for a centrepiece.

Yes, I said centrepiece.

If I was going to do this, by golly, it was going to be beautiful. (And my fellow “All or Nothing” friends, said A-men.)

Farewell to Park Place_800 15Farewell to Park Place_800 4Farewell to Park Place_800 5Farewell to Park Place_800 7Farewell to Park Place_800 6Farewell to Park Place_800 12HospitalFarewell to Park Place_800 13

It’s finding the words to talk when you’d rather make out with a plate of carbs in silence. It’s trying to pair up his mysterious missing socks when you’d rather read Joan Didion. It’s drizzling balsamic vinegar in a pretty swirly pattern over sad shrivelled cherry tomatoes when all you have is leftovers.

I don’t choose romance every day. It’s hard to love well when you’re feeling lazier than Garfield. I often wave from the platform and take the easier way out–knowing that thoughtfulness requires me to die to flesh.

But on the odd Wednesday, when I hear the tenderness in his voice and see the furrow in his brow … the winter in my heart melts and I remember the man I promised to love.

The one I promised to love in pregnancy and in health, on manic Mondays and lazy Saturdays, over Subway sandwiches and lukewarm apple juice.

_______

“We were convinced the winter had won.
Our dreams had grown brittle, and the
birds in the yard couldn’t carry a tune.
But then the iris bloomed, its resurrection
purple suddenly thawing our discontent,
daring us to put off the old wool and wrap
our mortal flesh in linen for a change.
So lift up your heads, o ye hibernators.
Throw prudence to the wind and let the
burning sun pinken your chapped cheeks.
Kick off your Sorels and come dance with
us bare-soled in the perking-up grass.
For lo, the winter is over and gone, the iris
has bloomed. The birds are back on key.
(fingers crossed, knock on wood)”

John D. Blase, Colorado Song of Songs

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Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis
  • Holy Sashimi! 😉 Beautiful + engaging + honest + close.

  • Bev Murrill

    I love you guys So So much!

    • Aww. And WE love you!!! I’m not sure *how* that’s possible given that we have yet to meet IRL. But it’s true. xo

      • Bev Murrill

        *mile wide smile***

  • Bev Murrill

    And by the way… stunning photo of your profile against the cityscape!

  • Stephanie

    Ohhh, Mamacita! You look amazing. That poem is awesome – it should be like a hymn to all Canadians. Hehe.

    • O, STOPPPP Stephy! 🙂 I lub yew.

      That poem took my breath away. Isn’t it AWESOME? You should check out John Blase. He posts a poem on his blog almost everyday. He is fantastically wise and humble. I’m such a fangirl of his work.

      http://thebeautifuldue.wordpress.com/

      • Stephanie

        Gracias for the link, chica. I love me some poetry. xox.

  • Shilpa

    There is a ton of honesty and tenderness wrapped up in this post. Thank you for sharing, Tina.
    P.S: you look beautiful

    • Shucks, Shilpa. Thank you friend!

      I’m really looking forward to spending time with you and Akash next weekend! 🙂

  • fiona lynne

    Oh I can so identify. Romance here looks like still getting up to greet him when he comes in from work even though I weigh something close to a hippo this month. It’s remembering to kiss him goodnight even when I go to bed two hours before him. It’s making the effort to stack the dishwasher because I know a chaotic kitchen bugs him, even though bending is a herculean effort. And I feel the benefit – every time he runs upstairs to fetch me my phone that I forgot to bring down again, when he heads out to get Indian takeaway for us coz there’s zero in the fridge, when he makes me laugh until I cry as we’re discussing name choices… Oh I see all the choices to engage pay off a hundred times over when I make the effort. Love this, love you x

    • Well hiiii, my darling girl!

      I HEAR YOU on the getting up to greet him when he comes in from work bit. The dishwasher isn’t as difficult at the moment but I know these days are short lived. Shaving my legs is pretty close to a Cirque Du Soleil activity at the moment. Speaking about Indian takeout, Kupa and I stuffed our faces (me more than him) after finishing up my post last night. The food of my people makes me so darn happy in this season.

      I think of you often these days. I’ll be cheering you on as you cross the finish line, Mama. And then I pick your brain about ALL THE THINGS while I hyperventilate in anticipation of my own finish line.

      That baby is going to be SO loved. You and Rasmus are going to be the best parents.

      Eeeeek.

  • Frances Stone

    I always adore your quirky honesty, Tina. There is a magical quality you possess in your writing that is pure delight. I have been thinking of this subject lately, how to maintain the spiritual experience of meeting the the love of your life. How it mirrors how God loves and longs for us and how that spark is built by the effort of connection and gives us such deep grattitude for life. I know it changes, life happens, but I wonder if it can be maintained. I do. I wanna try. I look forward to more sharing of your life as it continues to change and you change with it. It is such an adventure this life! And your bumpity bump looks truly beautiful as do you ♡

    • When we Kupa and I were getting married, the pastors and mentors in our life kept using the words, “May you love each other with Christ’s love.” I didn’t think about it too much at the time but post-marriage I realize the weightiness of those words. Truth be told, the human emotion and capacity to love runs out REAL QUICK. It’s kind of a bummer actually. The idea of, however, loving your partner with the overflow of Christ’s love for you is the only sustainable way to do it! When I feel loved, cherished and seen by the Source of all Love, I can learn how to channel some of that magic love towards my earthly partner.

      Here’s to your beautiful journey, Frances! Thank you for reading and engaging with such a thoughtful comment.

      Love you,
      Teen

  • John D Blase

    You’re right, the poem fit nicely. And you’re also right about romance – its hard, yet its not difficult, which sounds goofy but your post communicates that…it can be as easy as a Subway sandwich if we’ll let it, huh? Thanks, Tina.

    • O, John. I nearly fell out of my chair when I read your poem yesterday. Your words articulated the exact sentiment I was trying to convey with such wisdom and grace. Not to mention a much lower word count. I aspire to communicate meat with such brevity someday. You make it look effortless.

      Thank you for letting me use your beautiful words in the post!

      P.S. I’m hoping to gift my husband your book of poetry as an early Father’s Day present.

    • Ealasaid

      I am going to memorize it! it is beautiful.

  • Sherry Naron

    I love your honesty my sweet friend. It is so refreshing to see the “real” and how much work marriage is. There’s not nearly enough of that out there for the world to see. I love that you pushed passed it to be there, I loved that Indian blanket that we bought while together in India, and I mostly loved seeing your little baby bump! You look absolutely adorable, which I knew you would!

    • O, Sherry! I LOVE the colours of that blanket we bought. I’m so-so-so glad I bit the bullet and just bought them. I sometimes catch myself just laying it out on a bed and staring at it. Haha. Lame I know!

      Believe it or not, the bump is substantially bigger now! That picture was taken about a month ago. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and always being so encouraging.

      xoxo

  • Anne-Marie

    I love you two so much! and am so glad you took that moment. Still remember ours, leaving our tiny apartment before children more than 20 years ago. This is lovely, and you are lovely, even when you feel unkempt. you beauty-oozer!

    • I have to be honest, I stood at the crossroads of that decision for a looooong pause. Haha. A shower seemed so much more appealing. And then I thought about the many firsts in that apartment and knew I HAD to see it one last time.

      “Beauty-oozer” <– That's a first! Ha. 🙂 I'll have to tuck that away in my backpocket for days when my lizard mind plays tricks on me.

      Love you,
      Teen

  • Meredith Bazzoli

    Thank you! I am going through a time of transition and moving and this was helpful… I’m going to schedule some intentional Subway sandwich adventures : )

    • Transitions are tricky. I find all my weaknesses rise to the surface because I’m suddenly in unchartered territory. Here’s to buckets of grace and Subways sandwiches as you navigate this season, Meredith!!! xox

  • Heavens to Betsy, woman. The first half of this post is me all through, though I have neither a pregnancy nor a move to credit for my disconnect. Weariness doesn’t always follow the rules of logic though, does it? And then the second half of your post… That’s the “hard work” that they always told me marriage would take. At least it’s one aspect of the hard work. Showing up when you’re tired. Such a simple and profound and blastedly difficult concept.

    Thanks for sharing your story. As always, you inspire me in the everyday goings-on of my marriage. And also in the eating of sushi. 😀

    • Well, of course, you’re tired! You have multiple kidlets. I feel the need to hibernate just from spending time with friends who have children. Parents are living saints in my book. God must endow parents with a special grace and capacity to meet the emotional and physical demands of parenting. Well, at least, I’m kind of counting on it…. *nervous laugh*

      And yes, the “showing up when you’re tired” bit of marriage is FREAKING hard. It makes me realize I’m obsessed with comfort. It takes grit, guts and a few grunts to show up when your ego is wounded and your soul is parched.

      I’m just glad I’m not the only soul in the struggle. I like that it’s a shared human experience. Makes me want to show up just one more time…. 🙂

  • I always love your stories Tina. I somehow always find myself in them.

    • I love when our stories are universal. It makes me feel less alone and crazy. And let’s face it, less of a jerk! Ha. 🙂

  • Katie Richardson

    Beautiful, beautiful words. LOVE.

  • pastordt

    Oh.My.Goodness. TWO of my favorites in the very same post. LOVEITLOVEITLOVEIT. Here’s to romance, however you find it – or make it. Thanks so much, Teen.

    • Thanks so much, Lady Di! So grateful that you show up month-after-month to read my humble monthly offerings. You encourage me to be brave. It’s easier to write the gritty truth of my life when I know kind friends like you keep showing up to cheer me on.

  • I love your rejoicing posts as well as your quiet “this is hard, guys” posts, and this is a mix of both. Thanks for your honesty (and you are beautiful.). Love where this road has taken you.

    • Thank you for your sweet words, Jana. I miss you. I feel like we need another in-the-flesh catch up sesh. *sigh* If I’m in Seattle in the next little while, I’ll message you, k? *hugs*

      • I’d love a good hug and hang out time, and I have *ahem* quite a bit of free time in the schedge right now 🙂 But I totally understand how moving and becoming a mama can overtake the schedule and be exhausting! so no pressure 🙂

  • HBurns

    I, for one am so very grateful you found the energy to write this lovely, ‘in-to-me-see’ post to remind us all what love and commitment looks like. I simply adore you & Kupa and I love learning such valuable life-lessons from you. SO much love and thanks xoxoxo

    • Pastor Helen…you make me feel so loved. Always. Thank you.

      So much love for you,
      Teen

  • Carryl Robinson

    Exquisite, lovely, an absolute jewel. I love your stories, and your photographs but I love your heart the best. Oh, and thanks for teaching this terminally single gal a new definition of romance!

    • O, Carryl. Your words mean so much. Especially as someone who is in a different season than me. One of the commenters in the thread (Sarah) talks about how the rules of making the choice to engage is really applicable to any relationship. Such an aha moment for me to read that. Thinking of my mom and how I need to do a better job of “romancing” her… Y’know? xoxox

  • olivechan

    Oh so many things to love about this piece! Your honesty. Your humour. Your images. The really, really lovely poem. And I’m not gonna lie, the biggest draw for me – a peek at your beautiful bumpity bump. 🙂
    Fellow mama, choosing romance ain’t easy. Nor will it be when you have a wailing, flailing, incredible-poop-generator in the months to come. Oh for grace to keep choosing door #2.
    xoxo

    • Poop generator! *covers face* Hahaha. I’m mortified and tickled by those words.

      Thank you for your kind words and your gorgeous book, fellow incubating Mama. So much wisdom there. So grateful to learn from Tim’s and your journey.

      I LOVED that picture of you on FB killing it at Dance Dance Revolution. I never had the coordination to pull that off even when I’m NOT pregnant.

      Counting down the days till we get to meet your precious one! EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

      • olivechan

        I’m bracing myself for our poop generator too. 😉

        You’re very welcome for the book. It was meant to bless and I’m glad you’re finding bits that resonate.

        As for DDR, I have a confession: that photo was posed. :p I did kind of wonder what other’s thought of the sight of an 8 month preggo stomping around though. That was at 35 weeks. I’m at 37.5 now and I can barely stand long enough to prepare dinner, let alone dance. Sigh.

  • Good advice, dear Tina, good advice. Thanks for the beauty.

    • Thanks for stopping by and always encouraging dear Esther. LOVED your post about marriage on Deeper Story in May. God bless the truthtellers.

      xoxo

  • Megan Gahan

    Divinity wrapped in rawness wrapped in your insanely gorgeous photographs. I can’t handle it. So stunning my friend. And of course I relate to this on like every. single. level. Can’t wait to see you and that gorgeous baby bump of yours love.

    • Oh. My. Word. I can’t even process your comment.

      Way to make me cry twice in ONE day. Stop it, GAHAN!

      Let’s belly bump when we see each other again! 🙂 Love you.

  • Back here, reading the comments and seeing the post again … You just are SUCH a wonderful storyteller. Well done, friend.

    • *deep breath*

      I receive your words, friend. (Even though my natural instinct is to deflect.)

      I get to hug you in person today! #yay 🙂

  • Such a sweet reminder of the simple beauty of marriage, and really any relationship, that goes the distance. There are those special moments where we can choose to love. Loved this precious story of one such moment!

    • I LOVE your observation, Sarah! All meaningful relationships, romantic or otherwise, require us to make the choice to engage.

      Your comment is making me think of my sweet mom who loves me in the most incredible, sacrificing ways. *sob*

      I need to do a much better job of “romancing” her…..

      Thank your for sharing your sweet and important thought.

      Much love!

  • Ganise C.

    Stunning post. Fabulous pictures. Strength and grace to you and your husband.

    • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, GANISE!

      *insert big smile here*

      • Ganise C.

        Your kindness warms my heart, Tina, and made me smile 🙂 Thank *YOU* for being so sweet and warmest blessings to your baby.

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  • Cynthia Nichols Cavanaugh

    Beautiful and authentic. Romance isn’t what we see in the movies or hear in a song. It is choices we make to engage when we are as you said, bone weary and tired! Wisdom and grace are all over this post. Inspiring, Thankyou!

    • Aww. Thank you so much for your words, Cynthia. YOU nailed it. Romance is the making the choice to engage when we are bone-weary. Le sigh.

      Speaking of inspiring…. you have been on my mind all week friend. So amazed by your courageous and fantastic undertaking. Cheering you on!!!!

      xoxox

      • Cynthia Nichols Cavanaugh

        Thanks so much Tina, it’s been a long week already but I’m so excited! I was hoping more would come out, but we have a good number and I know awareness is a key factor in rallying us to action. I feel blessed. Thanks for your encouragement and support!

        • YAHOO. I just found out that I can come!!!

          I had a photoshoot originally scheduled for Saturday. But I’ve been emailing my clients back-and-forth this week to see if we can reschedule. And I *just* got the confirmation that we can move the shoot to Sunday, so I’ll be there!!!

          Can’t wait to hug you in person. 🙂

          xoxox

          • Cynthia Nichols Cavanaugh

            So excited!!! You are a gem, so glad you can make it. Xoxo back at you!

  • destiny

    You and Kupa have just the best romance. That guy and his epic questions! It must keep you always on your toes 😉 Love this post Teen… xx

    • Haha. Totally!!! Kupa and his EPIC questions.

      I feel like I need to be sipping on something stronger than tea when I talk to him. I kinda love him for it though…

      Love you too, Des! Hope this work week is going well. xoxox

  • Saskia Wishart

    Just had the chance to read this Tina and of course, STUNNING, as always. You write so well, so engaging and lovely and real. Xx

    • O, Sasky. Thank you. I’m so sad that our paths weren’t able to cross when you were in town but I loved knowing that you were close. Even if it meant was just double-tapping on your beautiful tan face on Instagram.

      You know you’re loved, right? xoxo

  • Erin Wilson

    I love the way you show me how to love better. xo