In grade school, I spent a lot of time on the bus.
A big hulking yellow machine that wheezed up hills and backed into a telephone pole once. I can still remember the musty smell and the thin olive green plastic that wrapped around the metal benches.
This was before the age of cell phones, so extra hours on the bus were not spent playing Angry Birds or snapping infinite selfies.
We mainly played MASH.
To play, we would scrawl MASH at the top of a blank page and then select a few intriguing categories. We typically settled on: Married To, Car, # of Kids, Vacation, and Career.
My friend and I would scrunch down, knees up on the raw metal in front of us, giggling as we filled in a handful of enticing and horrifying options under each category. Married To would include a select few from our class, usually one or two I liked, and a few awkward ones my friend would throw in to torment me (giggles). # of Kids would include 1 and 2 and 67 (more giggles). Vacation choices featured the glamorous—England—and the not so glamorous—Alberta—options. I’m sure you’re catching on now.
The letters in MASH stood for: Mansion, Apartment, Shack & House, indicating the home I would live in. Obviously, Mansion was the goal. House was acceptable. No one wanted Apartment or Shack.
My friend would make a bunch of ticks on the paper, I would tell her when to stop, and that would be the magic number by which options were eliminated from my future. I would groan when the cute boy got crossed off or when Bermuda was out. Inevitably, I would end up with something like this:
Megan gets married to Jordan and lives in a shack with fifty kids, a Ferrari, vacations in Timbuktu, and is employed as a ditch digger. *Insert wild shrieking.*
And that was my future. Compartmentalized into five easy categories.
If 11-year-old Megan saw my current list, I can’t say she’d be too impressed:
Megan got married to Ryan and lives in a townhouse with one son, two Pathfinders vacations sporadically, and is employed primarily as Mom.
I thought those categories made up a life. But it turns out they were merely a highlight reel. They say nothing of day in and day out that is making a marriage work. In between finding the boy and having the kids and the odd getaway, there is a heck of a lot more going on than MASH ever led me to believe.
My husband and I are different. And not the cute different, like Jim and Pam, where it all wraps up in twenty minutes with an endearing smirk and a prank on Dwight. The hard different. This May, we’ve been married ten years.
It’s been our toughest year yet.