Roll To The Middle

The college Zach and I attended was a close knit family. There were only 30 or so students in our graduating class, around 250 students total. Because the community was so small, all of the professors lived on campus and we had close relationship with them and their families. All of the professors' kids loved Zach. He was so cool with his skateboard, his long hair, skinny jeans and guitar. One little boy in particular, Ethan, absolutely adored him. Our first semester in college, Zach and I were just friends. We started dating the last week of school, but even when we were "just friends", we were absolutely inseparable. You didn't see one without the other. We just liked hanging out. Best friends status, you know? Well, one day I was eating lunch in the cafeteria with another friend when little Ethan came running over and asked me where Zach was. When I told him I wasn't sure, that I hadn't seen him for a few hours, he had this odd look on his face; a mix of confusion and disappointment. And then he said, "But you're his bookmark!" I'm sorry, his what? I had no idea what he was talking about. I asked him what that meant and his answer is still, to this day, one of my favorite things anyone has ever said about Zach and I.

"You're his bookmark! Whenever I need to find Zach, I just find you and then I'll find Zach."

His bookmark. What a sweet and brilliant observation. We weren't even a couple yet and I was his bookmark. Zach and I have always been that way. We just dig each other. We like to be around each other. He makes me laugh and I make him groan and there is no one in the world either one of us would rather be hanging out with than each other. I choose him every time.

But what happens when I'm not his bookmark anymore? When his bookmark can't even find him? We got a little taste of that a few months ago and it was ... scary. To say the least.

It would take too long to explain what brought us to the place we were a few months ago, so I'm going to save that for my future book. For now, I'll just say, that I woke up one day and realized that Zach and I were not on the same page and we hadn't been in  a long time. We still had a great relationship, still had great communication, but there were a few pieces missing and we were both refusing to acknowledge them. I was the first to call it out. I sat down across from him at the table one morning and said, "We're not on the same page anymore and it scares me."

That began a long series of conversations. Every day. We talked. And we talked. And we talked. Well. I talked. He listened and processed and barely said a thing. I felt the distance between us. Things were great in our relationship otherwise. We still went on dates, made each other laugh, did the married folk dance, but there was this unspoken thing. This piece of him that I felt like I was losing. A piece that I didn't "get" anymore. A piece that I wasn't sure he even got anymore. I was scared. I couldn't tell you what I was scared of, just that the fear was there. Fear of the unknown, I guess.

There's this song by Sara Groves called "Roll To The Middle". She sings about her and her husband's really big fight and how they said things they didn't mean and called each other names and all things married people do to hurt each other. The lyrics say:

 "All the complicated wars, they end pretty simple. Here when the lights go out, we roll to the middle. No matter how my pride resists, no matter how this wall feels true, no matter how I can’t be sure that you’re gonna roll in too. No matter what, no matter what, I’m going to reach for you."

It's funny how you listen to a song long before you ever need its wisdom, but somehow it stays with you and becomes a part of you. Those words have carried our relationship this far. Not in and of themselves, of course, but when things get bad, we both think of that song. I often ask myself after a big fight, "Am I going to roll to the middle tonight?"

In good times, and especially in bad, I'll roll to the middle.

Even when I feel lonely, and hurt, and confused.

I'll roll to the middle.

Even when he doesn't deserve it. .

I'll roll to the middle.

Even when I'm the one to blame and I'm not sure he'll meet me there.

I'll roll to the middle.

Especially when I'm afraid I'm going to lose him. When I'm losing myself. When I feel like we don't know each other anymore.

I'll roll to the middle.

Every time. No matter what. As a matter of principle, as a matter of covenant. Even when everything in me screams to run away and never look back.

I'll roll to the middle.

And that's where we found ourselves a few months ago. In this roll to the middle situation where we had to be honest, have hard conversations, make tough decisions and find ourselves again. And we did.

But first, we had to roll.