I am proud of Dana. How could I not be? I knew she was going to kick butt once she was in charge. She is a called person, and I did expect miracles. So it's an elation to see her doing not only better, but far better, than I thought anyone could in her position. The Sunday Show she puts on each week rocks. But as with all committed clergymen and clergywomen, 80 percent of her job isn't public. It's the one-on-one work, the pastoral visits and confessions, her whole immersion in the deepest joys and griefs—the addictions, the betrayals, the diseases and deaths—of her parishioners' lives. To be married to a truly gifted woman of the cloth is to be married to a woman whose 30 or 40 closest friends are perpetually and overlappingly on the brink of the abyss. The demand for Dana's psychic energy and love is multitudes greater than it was before she replaced me as the Big Enchilada. Yet she somehow has it in her to give commensurate with what is needed. So I have spent the last nine months watching in amazement as her radiance has amplified.
A small problem, then, that her spouse happens to be a person to whom attention must be paid. Undividedly. Rapturously. Ceaselessly.
For a time I acted out in little childish ways, tried to reject this New Deal of hers and mine, and my assigned role in it. Would approach her in the receiving line after the Sunday 10 A.M. service, behold the alb, the stole, the resplendent finery of her station, look into her beautiful, kissable face and then try to make her flinch by whispering, "Girl, you put the ho in holy!" Or the "lay" in "Revelation." Then, one day, out of nowhere and out of everywhere, I turned to her as we were reading in bed and said, "Baby, let's make a deal."
I told her I was having trouble recognizing myself. I told her that as much as I liked this new life that she had created for us and for our boys, I felt inescapably part of—a member of—a flock. I needed to reclaim my self. "Like a wolf pissing out its territory," I told her.
She said of course, darling. Anything. I want you to be happy.
"Okay, then," I said. "Here's the deal. I've found a small cabin in the middle of nowhere outside Buena Vista, Colorado"—my home state. "I need to buy it. I need to make it mine, ours...whatever."
"Do it," she said.
"And you need to agree that I can go there by myself at least four times a year," I added. "This is part of the deal."
"Do it," she said again.
So I did.
I spent three separate weeks there in the first quarter of 2010 alone. It's a beautiful place, a dream. Snowbound and pure and so profoundly silent that I can listen to my thoughts and longings without the interference of any judgment or ego. On each of those weeklong trips it has taken no more than 24 hours to achieve clarity and resolution. And then I have spent the remaining 144 hours cold and heartsick and unable to sleep, just waiting for that return flight so I can get back to being the father of my children and the husband of my radiant, irradiating, ass-kicking wife.
We Hear You!