Sunday, July 21, 2013

Portrait of a Marriage

They say that opposites attract. I've never found that to be true. I don't think I could live with a neat freak, for example, and I know one couldn't live with me. I used to be ridiculously profligate with my money, and have since reformed (thanks in no small part to my wife)...I couldn't abide a spendthrift at this point in my life.
(Interesting -- if you're me -- linguistic aside: "spendthrift" means precisely the opposite of what you'd think it would, given thrifty means frugal: once upon a time, thrift meant "prosperity", and so a spendthrift is one who has spent her prosperity.)

What's true is that complements attract. It's dangerous to think of this as a "you complete me" exercise...each of us is a complete human being, and searching for 'completeness' in others too often produces a dependancy and associated expectations...which will eventually go unmet...and pop goes the world.

But since we're sharing the completeness of life together, it's interesting to look at our differences and how they inform our marriage.

The biggest difference between my wife and I is our level of observance of the world. Mine is virtually nonexistent. Hers is simply incredible.

I can't easily explain my absent-mindedness. It's just there, a constant. It dates back as long as I can remember, which probably means I tripped out of the womb.  I've called it HICS...Head In Clouds Syndrome, also an acute inflammation of the Hey, Watch Where The Fuck You're Going! gland.
It's beastly hard to put into words, the same way any default state is: suffice it to say most of the world dims to the point of invisibility and inaudibility  much of the time. Tell me something when I'm in this state, and without any cue that it's important, it'll as like go in one ear and out the other. Or take the television as an example. With the exception of a very few shows, I can't stand the television: it's just mindless chatter to me. So I simply don't hear it. The same thing applies to seeing Internet ads. I don't. I click to close without even noticing what they're for.

This is probably the most famous example of my HICS in action. It's by no means the only example. Ask my wife about the several times (SEVERAL!!! TIMES!!!) I have walked right past her without seeing her. Or I can tell you about that time, back in first year university, when I left my dorm room for a class, forgetting my textbook...I got halfway to class, realized I didn't have it, went back to the room, unlocked the door, threw my keys on the bed for some reason, retrieved the text, and then spent half an hour trying to find the keys I had just had in my hand.
Losing things is a daily, almost an hourly occurrence around here. It would undoubtedly be lessened if I could apply the 'place for everything and everything in its place' rule that the rest of the world lives by, but when you live life in a fugue state you tend to forget things like where you left your keys. Or your shoes. Or your pants.
I will freely admit HICS is probably curable, or at least can be managed better than I manage it. But the mental effort involved is daunting in the extreme. I try to pay attention to everything at once--my job demands it, for one thing--and the result, all too often, is me spinning like a top. I'm more of a 'complete one task and move on to the next' kind of person.

There's a reason I don't drive, people. There's a reason, a good reason, I'm scared shitless of trying to pilot an automobile. If I let my attention lapse for an instant, I'm apt to kill somebody and/or myself.

Contrast Eva. I have never in my life met somebody who can focus so intently on something and yet see everything else in the area at a single glance. She pays special attention to where anything of mine might be at any given moment, because I'm apt to ask her: "Love, where are my pants?" But it's not just that she sees all and hears all, she knows all by some process of osmosis I can't even grasp. She can tell you the plots of movies she's never seen. She's completely uninterested in most celebrities and yet can tell you things about them that they don't even know. Pop culture just seeps into her through her pores, or something.
She bores easily. Boredom, actually, is probably her default state the way HICS is mine. She's learned how to only do three or four things at once instead of the seven or eight she used to do (I'd like to think I've had something to do with that)...but give her only two streams of stimulation and she's mentally spinning like a top. She says lots of stuff to do "relaxes" her. I've known this woman for almost fifteen years now and I still haven't even begun to understand how that works. To me that's like saying "I need lots and lots of cold to feel warm".

We have an ill-defined point system in our marriage for when one of us surprises the other with some piece of knowledge that usually falls into the other's bailiwick. For  instance, my wife is bored almost to tears by hockey, which is a passion of mine...and every once in a while she'll out with some obscure stat or remind me of a goal that some player scored once, and thus earn mad points. The last time I earned mad super extra bonus points was the death of Cory Monteith. I'd never heard of this guy before he suddenly was everywhere. I had heard, vaguely, of some other Cor(e)ys, and I told my love that I wasn't surprised this one had died with drugs in his system, after all, his name was Cory. She looked at me for a second and then doled out a large number of points. I got even more when I provided the surnames of the other Cor(e)ys I was thinking of (Feldman and Haim) and even named the one who was still living -- that was a complete guess, and I've forgotten which one it is. Note that I couldn't identify a picture of any of these people. Just random chaff that stuck in the back of my brain, is all. But that chaff got me mad super extra bonus points and brightened my morning considerably.

Then there are the other points, the husband points I get for doing things like making dinner (which is silly, because I mean, hey, we gotta eat, and Eva doesn't get home until almost nine p.m....for her to have to cook dinner at that hour is ridiculous),  Or going shopping with her. Or making her coffee in the mornings. None of these things are worth points, in my estimation: they're all the bare minimum a husband does. The fact is I don't do enough around here -- laziness is second only to HICS as a fault of mine -- so the stuff I do tends to be directed towards her wherever possible.

She gets all the wife points for putting up with me. For loving me even when, especially when, I'm forgetting to love myself. For recognizing when I'm not capable of coherent thought and acting accordingly. For being the beacon in the storm that is life outside this house. The fact is I'm not comfortable in public, never have been. But with Eva next to me I can do anywhere and do anything.

You've seen our morning routine. The evening routine is similar, in reverse--in the summer it even often includes a shower, albeit much shorter one, just so I don't stick to the sheets. Eva falls asleep to the TV--gotta keep the stimulation going as long as possible. Usually, not always, the Food Network, just as long as it's focused on food and not people. Just today I groused about the coming "Sous-Chef wars"...I figure if the Food Network realities up any further, well have "Saucier Wars" and "Dishwasher Wars".
If I'm tired enough, I'll even fall asleep before the sleep timer goes off on the TV. Lately I've gotten somewhat used to six hours a night of sleep. Still not optimal, not for either of us. And it goes without saying (so I'll say it anyway) it's all but impossible to sleep soundly without Eva there on the other side of the Tux.

Our days are full of love and laughter and comfort and joy. I joke often that I'm still on the honeymoon...except it's not a joke. I'd marry Eva all over again in a heartbeat, and the only thing I'd change is most of the wedding party. Friends come and friends go, but Eva and I are that ever-fixed mark.

No comments: