Monday, November 07, 2005

A Secret

I’ve been very far below the weather the last few days with a nasty chest cold, and thus, incommunicado. Many soupy thoughts have burbled around in my head in the phlegmmy haze, some deep, some shallow. Yesterday, in bed for most of the gray day, as Ben was upstairs painting, I flashed back to my single life with little fondness. (This is what happens when you have too much time to think, I guess, which I generally don’t, lately, which leads to a whole separate secret, though, which is that thinking is overrated and in my case leads mostly to despair and hopelessness.) Ben would take breaks and bring me cough syrup and tea, and I caught up on some shows I taped during the week and napped on and off. Anyway here’s my secret. All those single years, the longer I stayed single, the more I got used to inhabiting a largeish space all my own and all devoted to me, all about me, all me-centric all the time, and the more I came to conclude that if I were ever going to be in a relationship it would be an unending struggle, ongoing compromise, and a continual effort to “communicate.” To make someone understand me.

I was wrong.

And not just because it isn’t all about me. I did have another pet theory, though, tucked far in the back of my mind, that the above speculation was wrong, and that if I were to meet the right person, it wouldn’t be a struggle at all, and that, my friends, thankfully turned out to be true. So that is my secret for the day, if you are single and holding out. It doesn’t have to be hard to be real and good and true. (Which is not to also say that if it is hard it isn’t also real and good and true, since I can only speak for myself, but for me when it was hard, it was just hard, and it was almost always hard, which is why I thought it had to be hard, which is why I held out, because it was hard enough just being with myself, which is so totally silly, thinking about it now, because it’s of course much less hard to be with someone else, unless of course that’s only true because the person is Ben, which is possible, but I also think that if you don’t have a Ben, that doesn’t mean your Ben isn’t out there.) Yesterday, during the only part of the day that I was out of bed, Ben and I read the paper, and he said he was going to go to the studio for a while to work on something, and I said Ok, and for whatever reason, it occurred to me that that’s our whole relationship. Someone says something and the other one says ok. Ben said, Honey, I don’t like folding the towels in thirds, and I said, Ok, you don’t have to. Okay well it’s not our whole relationship, there’s the talking and the going to see art and the private-like stuff, but you see what I mean. No struggle. We struggle only with ourselves. It took being in a relationship, I guess, for me to see what a relationship was, or could be, and now that I’m in one, a lot of stuff that I thought mattered, towels folded in thirds and what have you, doesn’t matter so much.

Perhaps this is not as deep to you as it seems to me in my clogged-head state, but today it’s all I’ve got.


Dean said...

Perhaps this is not as deep to you as it seems to me in my clogged-head state, but today it’s all I’ve got.

It's enough. It pretty much agrees with my experience of relationships, which is that they were hard and painful and even insane until I met my current sweetie, after which they weren't. Not that I don't have to work at it from time to time; I do, but unlike previous relationships, my work pays off.

B said...

I don't like the secret that you have been sick!!!!!! Let me know if you need anything!

Donny B said...

Now that I'm in my first solid relationship ever, I can almost completely relate to what you're saying. I saw "almost" because my sweetie and I don't live together so that's a level I'm not quite on yet, but still, it is surprising the lack of work involved when it's the write person. and even when there is work, it doesn't feel like work. it just feels like talking and stuff.

smussyolay said...

i hope that someday i have a ben. or if it turns out to be an elizabeth, then that's cool, too. i haven't been with an elizabeth yet, but i'm open to it.

i like that one person says something, and the other person says 'okay.' sigh.

i'm lonely and depressed. and getting over my first sober love that lasted three months and ended in june. and wasn't really probably all that healthy, but was so much healthier than anything i've done in 31 years. and i haven't even done anything *all* that horrible.

gosh. i'm so sad. feeling. or being.


Angela said...

Sorry you've been under the weather, but I had to say I finally saw Me and you and everyone we know. I now understand the ))<>(( That is hilarious and disgusting all at the same time. Who knew Miranda July was so talented? I had only read her work at FENCE--so, she's great. Hope you got your t-shirt!

DAM said...

Even in the fog of cold, as opposed to the fog of war, you are sage. Towels folded in thirds don't matter so much.

I would recall my single days with less than fondness if I weren't in their midst. Just learned my ex-fiancee is married and expecting a child. I am not fond of this news. I'm in pain. Since this is an anonymous blog I can own up to this. Sigh and tears.

Betsy said...

DAM, I feel your pain. I hate when that happens.

jackie said...

Gah! Sorry to hear that you're sick, Bets. If you need anything, let me know.

Otherwise: I need to say, "Okay", more often to my husband. Like, when Pat forgets to put Ellie's diaper in the diaper genie, or when he hangs freemason miscellany and pictures of Abraham Lincoln in the living room which clearly belong in the study, or when he leaves banana peels on the sideboard but has remembered to throw out three bags of trash on his way out to buy the brand of unsweetened soymilk I like.

I have mixed feelings about my days as a single person. I had a lot more freedom to walk around in my bathrobe eating cereal and watch cartoons without being under anyone's radar, and unless it was a common space with a roomate, there wasn't any crap in the same space as the crap I wanted to put there, or had already put there. There was that horrible cat I once had that peed on everything, which is a lot easier to rationalize when it's your crap he's using as the litterbox and not your spousal equivalent's box of photos or favorite baseball hat. Not to mention being fiscally beholden only to myself, which made my rocky employment history a lot easier to work with.

Now I look back on our DINK days with the same mix of stuff. I don't miss being a part of the hipsterati rat race, but it would be nice to get a full nights' sleep while Ellie's molars are growing in. Still, my worst day battling wills with a toddler is better than my best day locking horns with some jive turkey open mic emcee.

You get the picture.