The Double-Wattled Cassowary in the Room
My husband is leaving me...well, us. He's leaving us. On Sunday, he's getting on a jet plane to San Jose. (No, he does not know the way, Burt Bacharach, but thankfully the pilot does.) And for the next two months he'll be living in Palo Alto. It's work related. He's going to be acting in a Paula Vogel musical called Civil War Christmas. (Uninviting title if you ask me.) And as we draw near I find myself resenting having to accept his departure.
At first, I tried fiercely to ignore the inevitable. I was in such denial that I only asked him this morning, "What day are you leaving?" And when I look back over the last month, I realize that any time he brought up his encroaching exodus, my stomach tightened and my breath became labored.
We had friends over Wednesday night and Michael came into the kitchen having just read about his accommodations. He was visibly excited and had to share with all of us, "You won't believe this place..."
"Don't," I said, not using the scold voice, but something I had hoped would galvanize nonetheless.
But I could tell by his run on sentence that Michael was overcome,"It's incredible, there's private parking, and a pool, and steam room and sauna, and, look at this, a twenty-four hour gym..."
"Don't," I tried again. This time loud enough for him to glance my way. But he was on a roll.
"...and there's a doorman, and each apartment comes with..."
"No. Michael. Really. DON'T."
Michael stopped. I was finally heard. Michael cowed. The guests knew not to continue down this road. General kitchen discomfort. But my man is a veritable rubber ball, "Who wants martinis?" And so we moved on.
It was this particular episode that made me realize I've got issues. My resentment is real. I resent that he gets to go away. I resent that he gets to do a play and get paid for it. But mostly, I resent that there is that unfinished bit of business.
Michael and I can be humming along just fine, but when we hit that odd pothole we are thrown completely out of whack. We retreat to our corners and, too slowly for my liking, lick our wounds. When we are done licking, we sweep it under the rug. We've been doing this for years. The lump in our rug was unnoticeable at first but now, it feels as if there are so many its underneath that it takes up the whole room.
Even as I mix my metaphors, I realize the lump probably isn't the gargantua I imagine. Logic has been overtaken by emotion. But after taking a breath, I can assure you that my rug lump certainly must be the size of a double-wattled cassowary.
In regards to the meeting today, I put the wheels into motion. I was feeling really great about last night's performance and really shitty about Michael's departure. I was talking to myself, arguing with myself, debating, and that's always a sign I need to unload. So I left a message on his voice mail. "It's time," I said. "We've been dodging this for too long. Being busy is easy for both of us, but you're leaving soon and we need to be a priority for each other."
I didn't layer the facts with guilt. (Well from my perspective, I didn't.) I wasn't defensive. I didn't use the poor me voice. I stated what I wanted, which was time with my man, before he pushes open the bronze gates and heads due north to that mysterious land called Palo Alto.
He texted me back with a time. Ten o'clock today. We've successfully set up our future with voice mail and text messaging.
For those of you concerned, this is not a death knell. This is opportunity. This is clarity. And hopefully, this is a sushi lunch afterwards.
I don't think any mysteries will be uncovered, nor revelations made. We're not an episode of True Blood. But I do think, very possibly, we'll fall in love all over again.
Ah, lookee here, it's ten on the dot.