Thursday, September 29, 2005

Home Alone and Thinking

It’s Thursday night. I have a sprained foot, PMS, and the ever lovely spiceboy and I have not been getting along so well. To complicate matters, spiceboy has been called away on unexpected spice business.

So that leaves me here, gimpy and alone, in my 350 sq ft Upper East Side apartment, with unresolved relationship issues. I’ve managed to secure enough supplies to keep me occupied for tonight: a bottle of red wine, a hunk of cheese and a baguette, a bag of ice for my sad, hurting foot, and a few small squares of Godiva chocolate.

Every time spiceboy leaves, I have 3 strong reactions, no matter what:

1. 1 or 2 hours of intense sadness. It starts with the first moment of turning the key in the lock and pushing open the door and finding the apartment still and empty and continues through figuring out what to eat for dinner.

2. 1 or 2 days of WHOOPEE! Now I can poo with the door open (I know it’s gross but I totally do it when I’m alone and I bet you’ve done it, too) and crawl into bed at 7pm and eat cookies and read all night.

3. 1-2 days/weeks, depending on how long spiceboy is gone, of okay, I pooed with the door open and ate cookies in bed. But now I miss spiceboy.

So I'm currently in step 2 of the process. But instead of eating consequence-free cookies in bed, tonight I’m thinking a lot about my relationship. spiceboy and I have been having some growing pains lately, and it's troubling me. But who the hell wouldn't have growing pains in an apartment this small?

Relationships are funny. When you don’t have one, you spend all of your time trying to get one. When you get one, you spend all of your time having sex and trying to figure out if you love each other. Once you both acknowledge that you’re in love, then you spend all of your time trying to figure out if he’s the one. Once you’ve figured out he’s the one, you spend all of your time wondering when (if) he’s going to propose. And once he proposes, well, then you’ve got the wedding to worry about. And that’s just another post altogether.

But there’s something else, too. Something that lots of engaged girls don’t really talk about-- making it work. It’s easy to talk about the ring and the dress and the wedding flowers, but no one wants to talk about making it work because making it work is really fucking hard.

Making it work is about enduring the ugly times—it may be really heavy stuff--like the in sickness and in health stuff. But I’m discovering that it’s usually much more mundane than that.

Making it work is really about learning to cope with your differences. You know, the differences that seem cute at first but drive you nuts after awhile. For example, while I’ve always assumed I am perfect and flawless and a joy to live with, I’ve recently learned that I do things that really irritate spiceboy. Like paying the phone bill the day it’s due so by the time it gets to the phone company it’s actually past due. Or propping the fresh roll of toilet paper on top of the empty roll rather than replacing the roll entirely. Or flinging my wet towels across the bed while spiceboy is still sleeping in it.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that spiceboy is basically a saint, and I stand by my statement. But there are times when even he falls from grace. Like when he slurps his hot drinks really loudly. And how when we eat dinner, even if we’re eating the same thing, he always hovers over my plate and stares at my food until I give him some. And he NEVER throws away the junk mail! He just piles it all around the house--supermarket coupons, advertising postcards, even those crazy missing kids flyers that say, “Have You Seen Me?” He just puts it all over the apartment. He does the same thing with his receipts.

Now, combine all of those little irritating things with a really heinous day at work. Now throw in money stuff, family stuff, and any other internal issues or hang-ups you may have. Keep it up for weeks or months at a time, and pretty soon you’ve mixed up quite a mess of bad moods and dropped subjects and unfinished business. It becomes the kind of stuff that gives you a stomachache when you think about it and keeps you up late at night even though you’re pretending to sleep. It’s the kind of stuff that can’t be solved by a fun night out with your girlfriends. It’s also the kind of stuff that doesn’t usually come up before the proposal.

Basically, it’s the dirty laundry of the relationship. And just like laundry, if you don’t deal with it, it piles up and starts to stink and before you know it, it’s overflowing and taking over the entire room. And you mean to take it to the laundry but there’s just not enough time so you put it off another day and another day and another day and then all of a sudden there’s so much laundry and you know it’s going to take hours and hours for you to do it and you know you should do it but you just don't feel like it and you start to wonder if it’s easier just to start over and buy new underwear and sheets and socks.

But when you're engaged or married, there are no do-overs. The scariest part of making it work for me is knowing that despite my best efforts, I might fail the person I love, or that he might fail me. It’s hard to accept that no matter how hard you try, at some point, you’re bound to let each other down. And when that happens, you’ve got to figure out how to bounce back.

I don’t know how to do that yet, but I’m learning. I’m learning that we should be kind to one another even when things aren’t perfect. And I’m learning that we should try to remember the good stuff and use it to help us get through the bad stuff.

Just a little while ago, spiceboy called me from the road to tell me that he loves me and that he's sorry he didn't get to kiss me goodbye today and that every song he hears reminds him of me.

Now that’s good stuff.