Wide Awake: Office Maintenance Guy
I really like my new co-worker

Earlier this year when Joe and I were both working from home, he came out of his office, grabbed a screwdriver and quickly fixed a loose knob on my desk drawer. I snapped a picture of him in action and posted to my Instagram story: “Had to call the office maintenance guy.” It’s kind of stuck.

In the months that followed, I continued to post in my Instagram story pictures of all the office maintenance guy does, ’cause it’s quite a lot. He’s delivered me lunch, shoveled snow, fixed a hinge on the basement door – on a Saturday! – and painted cabinets in our laundry room. I’ve invited him on walks, and he has asked me to go out with him on a few Saturday nights. (I am certain he likes me.)

I chronicled his habit of making healthy snacks while also questioning what he calls a snack. He will actually get excited roasting a tray of broccoli and cauliflower to eat around 3 pm. I’ve also photographed him counting out 12 almonds to have with a hard-boiled egg – as a snack. I believe a snack is ice cream or popcorn or even pretzels and chocolate chips mixed together in a bowl.

I worried that he might like Carson Wentz more than me, because there was a time when he talked about him nonstop. (You can probably guess when that was.) And I’ve shown the incredible meals he’s made when he works late and cooks dinner. But just a few weeks ago, I posted a picture of him in a suit jacket and said: “Office maintenance guy pretended he works outside the house today.” I added a meme of an unhappy woman giving a thumbs down.

He had gone on a business trip, which pre-pandemic he did all the time. For pretty much all 34 years of our marriage, Joe has travelled for business. Sometimes he would be gone Mon. – Thurs., week after week. When I had a 4-year-old, 2-year-old and an infant, my mom would come over in the evenings so I could put the baby to bed. But I think, in some ways, his travelling made us closer because when we were together, like on the weekends, we were fully focused on each other. And fortunately, we like each other.

But if I could have waved a magic wand and have his travelling end, I would have. In those rare periods of time when he wasn’t travelling, it was wonderful. A living situation that is so normal to most people – being home day after day with your partner – was extraordinary for us. Because it just never happened.

Until 2020.

Since last March, we’ve been together every day. And it’s been kind of nice. If I’m honest, it’s been really nice. Joe is kind and fun. He’s happy almost all the time, which I don’t understand, but it’s nice to be around.

There have been so many times where I’ve thought back to when we were engaged. I was 21 and Joe was 20, which I know sounds very young. But I remember how excited we were that we would be able to live together every day. Only when it happened, we had no money and were consumed by our careers. Then 3 daughters came and we were focused on them. But now? Now we are in a different place, and life is pretty much about us. We have discovered that it’s a good life.

So as we begin re-entry, I wonder what the lesson is here, what we’ll take from this time when we got to do what we dreamed about so long ago. I keep saying to him, “Are we really just going back to how everything was before?” That’s a loaded question right now that can be asked about many, many things. I don’t have the answer. I just have our every day, for right now. So I will enjoy that, post about it in my Instagram stories and appreciate what we have – at least today.

June 2021
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