Hence not much time for sleep. Truth be told, I never sleep much when we're apart. I don't like sleeping alone. That's why I'm so productive when I travel. I stay up really late and get up super early. A vacancy in the bedroom just leaves me restless in the dark.
Yet I'm a BIG believer in spouses spending time apart. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I learned this when we were dating. We thought we were in love. But we didn't know we were until we spent a summer on opposite coasts. That's when we realized we couldn't live without each other.
In marriage it's good to be reminded of that. It makes the moments together more like the love of novels. Lydia flew home from Utah Thursday night. We had one night in the same zip code before I left for San Francisco, then onto New York, D.C. and Boston.
I practically ran people off the road en route to the airport to get her. It's exhilarating to want a woman that much.
After a perfect embrace, we went shopping at one of her favorite clothing stores and ate dinner at our favorite restaurant. It was storybook — the sautéed beets, the lazy jazz music, the conversation, the curve of her lips. Then we drove home and stayed up ridiculously late talking.
We did the same things when we fell in love in Seattle in the '80s. We'd eat really late dinners on the waterfront and then I'd take her home and we'd sit in her driveway for hours, just talking. Her parents thought we were doing something else in the dark car. But we were really just talking.
We were so fascinated with each other's thoughts and opinions and dreams. Now that we're in our mid-40s, I'm infatuated.
I want my daughters to be loved this way. I want them to meet boys smitten by their outward beauty, yet fascinated by what's beneath the skin. I'm talking about boys that care about what books my daughters read; what musical instruments they play; what poems they cherish. I want a boy that cares about her dreams as much as his.
I'm talking about boys who don't view pornography. There's nothing casual about porn. I want a boy whose image of girls isn't warped by what is so easy to see on their touchscreen. If one of those boys gets close to my girls — they aren't hard to spot — I intend to send him howling. I've got ways.
My girls know this. I read to them every night that I'm home. Our favorite book is Julie Andrews' collection of poems, songs and lullabies. It includes Steven Sondheim's "Not While I'm Around." I read the lyrics to my girls often. While Lydia was away, I gathered my girls on my bed for story time and to hear Barbra Streisand sing Sondheim's song:
Nothing's gonna harm you, not while I'm around.
Nothing's gonna harm you, no sir, not while I'm around.
Demons are prowling everywhere, nowadays,
I'll send 'em howling,
I don't care, I got ways.
No one's gonna hurt you,
No one's gonna dare.
Others can desert you,
Not to worry, whistle, I'll be there.
Being close and being clever
Ain't like being true
I don't need to,
I would never hide a thing from you,
Like some …
When it ended, my girls said: "Daddy, can we listen to that again?"
That's music to my ears.
Jeff Benedict is a magazine writer and the author of 10 books, including "The Mormon Way of Doing Business." His website is www.jeffbenedict.com.
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