Sunday, April 6, 2008

Just Me and the Animals

I'm a bachelor this week. Steve's office sprung for a week-long training seminar for him in Austin, Texas and he left for it this morning. So it's me, the two cats and the old yellow cichlid swimming around in his 5-gallon apothecary jar. I'll head for Delaware on Wednesday--nothing to keep me here (the cats will go with me; the fish can fend for himself for a few days). I'll be getting the place ready for our first overnight guests of the season, who will be arriving on Saturday. It won't take all that time to spruce the place up, but I'd rather be there by the peaceful water than rattling around here all week. Steve will fly into National Saturday and drive himself to Delaware from there.

Growing up, I never imagined I'd get married. I've always been solitary by nature and my vision of the future never included another person. That changed to some degree in my early 30s when I was hit suddenly and unexpectedly with a strong desire to nest. I wanted somebody else in my life and found myself willing to make many compromises to make a relationship work. Steve came along and was ideal in so many ways...not the least of which was his own strong sense of independence. We have fashioned a relationship in which we remain very much our own persons--two single people making up a whole that's bigger than its parts. The relationship itself is our offspring and the thing that is paramount between us. We've had serious trials--all couples do--but the thought of leaving has never felt like an option.

When I was single, I was "serially monogamous." I know I survived the brunt of the AIDS epidemic--"the gay plague"--because I was never a bar-hound, never dealt in promiscuous liaisons; never even did any drugs beyond alcohol and the (very occasional, always supplied by someone else) joint. When I was on my own I was perfectly happy. If I got into a relationship I had to get used to being part of a couple, and then I enjoyed that while it lasted. When the inevitable breakup came, that was hard, and I had to get used to being single again. Which I did. And so went the cycle. I was happy either way once I got used to whatever condition I found myself in. Now, after nearly 30 years of couple-hood, that's changed. I think a bit of time apart is healthy for the relationship and for the people in it, but being alone is no longer so appealing. After all this time, you discover that your life is now designed as a joint venture--everything you do is done with the other in mind, either for him, around him or because of him. I wouldn't even be in this house if it weren't for Steve. He's "supposed" to be here and the place seems empty without him. If, God forbid, something horrible happened and I knew Steve was no longer coming back, it would first be a body-blow of a shock, but once I absorbed it (as we must if we are to continue living) I would find a way to carry on in a different state. But that's not going to happen, so these alone days are just spent in a sort of limbo. I'll eat the foods I like and have the TV all to myself, but I'm grateful these separations don't happen often.

Speaking of the TV: Yesterday was Bette Davis's 100th birthday and Turner Classic Movies ran a self-produced documentary on her career which I recorded and am anxious to watch, so that's one thing I'll do today. I was never a huge Davis fan--I find her odd-looking and too much of a self-caricture in large doses, but she represents an era, the trappings of which I've always found fascinating, so I know I'll enjoy the show. (It so happens I just finished reading a Davis biography, More Than A Woman. Quite an interesting book. She may have had her talent, but my God, what a miserable human being she was...) I've also rented the Canadian series "Slings and Arrows" from Netflix, and I'll be watching that. Heard of it? (Canadian friends, I know you have!) It follows the lives of the people in a small-town Shakespearean acting company. I've seen two episodes, and so far, so good. It has the same high calibre of writing that's found in the best of the various HBO series, and so far it's that good, if not as expensively produced. I'll report back.

Off I go now into my single life. You're on, Miss Davis!


Cuidado said...

I'm not a TV person at all so have not heard of Slings and Arrows. I only have two channels and watch Oprah when I can (which has been a lot this winter). The music is playing all the time though and if my stereo breaks, first I go through the body(ear) shock and then.....get it fixed as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

It is good to hear of relationships that work - relationships that understand the "work" after the "honeymoon period".

Long term relationships evolve and in reflection the changes are usually positive, even when there is separation or divorce. However, the best and in retrospect, the more than exciting honeymoon period, is looking back and seeing the evolvement.

Being alone has its perks - yet, I have to agree with you Ralph, after a day or two, a person misses the rhythm of their shared life. It is a pulse of our being.


Ralph said...

Linda, you're so right about history. I always feel very proud to look back and see what we have built.

Ravel said...

I wish you some good times with yourself (and a bit of Bette).

Ralph said...

Thanks, Ravel. So far so good....