Wednesday, February 02, 2005

February 1, 2003

James and I went to a three day marriage preparation retreat. No phones, no tv, no internet--just each other and open communication for three solid days. We had gotten up earlier that Saturday than usual, and we were both whupped. I suspect it was a plan to make the men cry by exhausting them, because by Saturday night they're on their second glass of wine, sitting in a dark room while you hold a candle, and they hold you, and they start blubbering about how much they love you (it was awesome)--of course, that wasn't until later.

It was 9:30 or 10 that the thin, wirey little priest with the mused hair who had been the "spiritual director" of this endevor leaned over the sofa that the couples running the retreat were sitting on, whispering something to them. They then informed us of the explosion of the shuttle Columbia, and that they would leave the TV on in the conference room if anyone wanted to watch the news coverage.

I remember how shocked we all were. We were all, almost without exception, children when the Challenger had exploded. One guy with messy blonde hair, wire-rimmed glasses and a chubby, sagging jaw who was a bit older recalled that he was in junior high, and had watched the shuttle lift off and explosion live.

The rest of the day, during breaks and meal times we were all glued to the television in a strange sort of reenactment of September 11, 2001. I'd been sick the night before, and that day a few of the other women had gotten sick in the afternoon. That's how things sort of broke up in the early evening--they went back to their tiny cells that were inhabited by nuns a lifetime ago, and I escaped for a quick shower in the comunity bathroom and a long, thorough teeth brushing. I flossed my teeth into bleeding, and ended up swallowing an ounce or two of Scope. I'm not sure why. We were all quiet, contemplative. I suppose we had a lot on our minds, with the morning's events, our own marathon of journaling and sharing. I think we were also very tired.

Later on, there was the group drinking and sharing, and the guys getting all sniffly in the common room lit only by votive candles in jars, one for ever couple. Eventually, we blew them out and went to bed, as if the morning TV binge had never happened.


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