On the train

My husband and I argue.  Often.

It usually begins pretty innocuously.

He might, for example (often), utter something fairly innocent that just sounds really stupid coming out of his mouth: “Do you plan to be up past 9 tonight?  I’m hoping for some action.” Wink. Wink.

And I might, for example (much less often), occasionally overreact: “I don’t know, do you plan on being a fuckhead?” Angry glare.

And the train just derails from there. Within a few minutes, there is carnage in the bedroom.  Boxcars of nervous, yet infuriating laughter (him) and circular logic (me) wrecked around us. There have been swear words hurled and impossible threats levied.

I am NEVER propositioning you again. 

Well you won’t have an opportunity to because you will be sleeping in the gazebo. 

My mascara tube has been thrown (to be fair, I didn’t aim for his head but it was lucky he ducked).  He is glaring. You are impossible. 

But as sudden as the train wrecked and the smoke filled the room, it lifts.  It is cleared. We put it back together.
He is good about knowing when it needs to end, my husband.  Better than me.
Even if he is not wrong (which is not often), he is kindly.  He will come to where I am, dramatically flung on the bed, feet dangling, face buried in the wedding quilt.  He will touch my back lightly and lay flat against me. Let’s not argue, lovie. I’m sorry, let’s be friends. His breath will be warm against my ear.

And though I am occasionally unreasonable, I am able to admit when I am wrong. I MAY have overreacted. I’m sorry for calling you a narcissistic neanderthal. 

And for saying you hate my face?

I think for a moment. And for saying I hate your face. I am silent again. I think you have a beautiful face.

His weight will be heavy on my back, substantial and comforting.  Why do we argue? He will ask into my neck, his lips moving right against my skin.

I think we are both passionate people, I tell him, my voice muffled by the blankets.  Intense. Emotional. 

But I think it is more than this.  As two people divorced and weary, I think we came to this marriage, this second marriage, burdened down with baggage.  We climbed on this train again, with hope that it would take us somewhere promising, somewhere lovely.  But we brought with us suitcases filled with mistakes. And broken things.

And this is why we fight: we both say what we feel.  Every. Single. Thing.

From the beginning, there was an unspoken understanding that talking it through would be the only way for us, that we could not let small problems grow and sprout into big, blooming ones.  That we would always know where the other one stands. That making a second marriage work would not be about smoothing things over and waiting it out.

It’s all or nothing this time. A one way ticket. It has to be.

This, too, is a process.  Because now, we say it all.  We have not learned yet, or are trying to learn, that some things can be unsaid (You use the word ‘Gotcha’ too much in conversation) or said nicer (Sometimes when you are drooling on my pillow I want to pull it right out from under your stupid sleeping face).  

The honesty is easy.  The discretion is harder.

So until we learn what is better left unspoken, we speak it all.  And thus, we argue. We ride our little train, listen to the trunks and suitcases bumping in the boxcar behind us.  I wonder if they ever disappear?

We sit together, the window half down and dusty air swelling in against the rattle-trap of the wheels on the track.  We say things we mean, because we are trying. And then we say things we don’t, because we are hurt.

But the clamoring luggage in the back speaks more than we can ever know how to begin to say.

I want him to know me.  I want him to understand. Rattling, clanging, my train case banging.

I want her to want me.  I want her to know how much I want her. Shake, clatter. His trunks are even heavier than mine.

I don’t care if we argue, my love.  I don’t care if we fight.

All I care is that you are willing to listen.

All I want is for you to always care.


  1. I absolutely love this, I’ve been married to my husband for 13 years and I was his girlfriend for 5 years prior to that. 18 years of living together total, I can totally relate to saying EVERYTHING that comes to mind. I appreciate your honesty in every post but this one really made me feel better about my personal “love story” thank you Nicole.

    • Sara, you gave me chills. The best love stories to me—the ones I want to stay up late reading—are the ones with the most details, the most imperfection, the most passion. I’m so glad to know you have one of those too. Thank you so much for reading and for spending time here with me. Happy New Year, Sara!


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