Friday, February 14, 2020

Marriage story

He wakes up with the first sun rays lighting up our windows. He drinks protein shake first thing in the morning. He likes to read on his computer in the quiet morning hours. 

I wait for the sun to climb up and aim its shine at someone else’s windows. I start the day with coffee. I like to chat. 

The Nespresso machine drones. The coffee stream fills up the cups and the aroma of fresh coffee awakes me. I go over the logistics of our day.

“You are going to Springfield for Lobby day today, right?”
“Uh huh.” 

“You wanna go grocery shopping tonight?”
“Uh huh.” 

“Can you help me make a list?”
“Can you help me make a shopping list?” 
“I’m going to Springfield.”
“I know. Now tell me what you need from the grocery store.”
“Nothing, I’ll be back on Thursday.”  

Today is Tuesday. I place the coffee cup on the counter and glance at him. 

“Thursday? What about tonight?”
“I’m in Springfield.”  

We are going in circles.

“You are in Springfield today.”  I annunciate today.
“And tomorrow. And coming back on Thursday.“

“You never told me that!”  Falsetto pitch activated.
“I told you I’m going to Springfield.” He insists.

“But you didn’t tell me you plan to stay two nights there”. I defend my grounds.
“I didn’t?” He finally turns away from the screen and towards me, spaced out and oblivious to the imminent word storm. 

Did you?”

All of a sudden a scene from the "Marvelous Mrs Maisel" flashes in my head.

Miriam’s father, Abe, is alarmed that his wife is not home. They live in Manhattan.

- I don't know what to do. I don't understand what's happening.
- What's the problem?
- It's your mother.
- Mama? What's wrong with Mama?
- She's not here.

- Well, where is she?
- I don't know.
- You don't?
- I mean, she went to Paris, but she was supposed to be back by now.
- Paris? She went to Paris? When did she go to Paris?
- A few days ago. She was going on a shopping trip or something.

- Papa, what did she say?
- That she was going to Paris, and she'd be back before the party.
- She said that?
- Yes. Well, I assume she said that.
- Assume?

A flashback takes us to the real conversation.  

I'm going to Paris. I don't feel like I have a life here anymore. Everything and everyone that I always counted on has let me down. I don't know what my place is here. You don't need me. Miriam doesn't need me. I serve no purpose. I'm unhappy and I'm tired of being unhappy, so I booked myself a flight for tomorrow night. Zelda's making lamb for dinner.”

“Lamb's good.”

One day a TV show makes us laugh. Today we are the show.

We clarify who’s doing what and move on with our days. Only I don’t. This is happening only eightheen months since we moved in together. It is too soon to be distracted, not listening when the other one is talking, not be present. I pride myself on my genuine attentiveness. I guess I slipped. Maybe it’s just aging memory. 

Later that week I share what happened that morning with my cousin, a twelve years junior. She laughs.

“I just visited my sister. I wonder how her marriage survives. Nobody listens, nobody hears. All weekend long I had to repeat what one had said to the other.”  

I chuckled, the worry still lingering. 

We spend years in efforts to find the One. And then we go back to what we know. We are living our own lives, but in a marriage. It’s easy to take what we have for granted.

Maybe he just forgot to tell me of his overnight stay. Maybe I just did not hear what he told me. But it’s also possible that these daily doses of miscommunication would build up to feeling neglected, disrespected, and bitterness sets in.
I still remember the words a man told me on a date.

“The problem these days is that nobody listens. What’s worse, instead of listening we try to guess what the other person will tell us and we think of what to say back. In missing what they actually tell us, we give our assumptions importance and power”

Is that how the marriage cookie crumbles?