Sunshine and Roses

“It’s really great,” I told Dawn, knowing jealousy was tinging the tone of my response.

Dawn and Todd had gotten back together, their separation ending when he’d begged her for forgiveness and promising her the problems that were borne out of living with his parents would not continue.  He’d come to live with her in the apartment she’d rented after having left him.  It was a tight squeeze for the two of them and their two young children.

Todd’s parents were wealthy, his father owning several businesses and properties in our area.  Todd had left college to work as his father’s maintenance supervisor for the rental properties, fixing broken faucets, repairing holes in the wall and generally doing everything a handy person might to keep renters happy in their accomodations.  It was agreed that as part of his promise to continue in this role, they would put a downpayment on a house for him and Dawn to share.

I had been surprised when Dawn brought me over to look at the house as they unpacked.  It was close; only about ten minutes from where I lived, in the same school district.  It was clear to me that rather than purchase a starter home as most of my friends were starting to do, Todd’s parents had decided to set them up in a home that they would stay in for many years.  The large, four bedroom colonial was spacious and well appointed and more house than I could even imagine a person our age owning.

“I know, I know,” she answered.  “It’s too much, right?  It doesn’t even feel like mine.  It feels like theirs.”

I laughed.  “Stop complaining.  I wish I had rich in laws who would buy me a house like this.”

Dawn kept walking from room to room, showing me the house, her in as much disbelief as I was that this would be her new home.  “I still can’t believe it.  One minute Todd and I are separated, on the road to divorce, and now we’re homeowners.”

I sat down on the kitchen floor, us having made the full circle by this point.  “Is everything OK, do you think?  I mean, how do you come back from something like that?”  I really wanted to know.  If Dawn and Todd had trouble, how could R and I make it?  They’d been insanely happy together, for so long.  R and I were already stumbling six months in.

Dawn went to the fridge and grabbed some Diet cokes, one for each of us, cracking the tab on hers and handing the other to me.  “I guess you realize at some point that everything isn’t always going to be great.  That sometimes staying together is not just because you love each other or because you like the way you feel when you’re with that person.  Sometimes it is also because simply the alternative is worse.”

I mock choked on my drink.  “That sounds awful.”

“No, I don’t mean it to sound like that,” Dawn answered, shaking her head.  “What I’m trying to say is that you learn that no one’s perfect.  Not you, not them.  And you decide, you make a conscious choice that despite that lack of perfection, you still want that person.  Because the good parts outweigh the bad parts.  Because life with them, and all of their faults, is still better than life without them.”

I pondered this quietly.  “So it’s not all sunshine and roses?  Damn.  I feel totally ripped off.”

Dawn smiled with sympathy.  “Me too.”

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