too quiet, really.
I like to think that I’m a completely independent woman who is capable of running her own life without the help of others. I like to think that. I know it’s not true. I know that I depend on others for fun, advice, help and favors. But I never realize just how much of my life I share with someone else until Eric goes out of town.
Something breaks down in my day-to-day survival skills.
I mentally prepare for it at least a week before the day I know he’s going to be gone. I pump myself up with excuses and flat-out lies, “This will be good. We’ll have a little vacation, you and I.” But just the second I start thinking about it, I end up buying a ticket to Los Angeles because, you know, that’s what I do when I think that maybe he’s having more fun than I am.
No, that’s not why I did it. But part of it is to not be in my apartment alone all weekend. I’d rather have my friends over, watching the house as they do when I’m gone, enjoying the cable and washing machine. Because when I’m there by myself, things don’t go just as they should.
Somehow I never end up cleaning anything I had planned on cleaning. I’ll make big lists of things that I’ll “now have time” to clean out. The closets. Bathroom counters. The refrigerator. I never even touch those things the entire time. I’ll think “He’ll be so surprised when he gets back and sees how clean everything is.”
In reality, the last hour and a half before his plane touches down I spend feverishly cleaning the living room in an attempt to make it look like I hadn’t just given up while he was gone.
I realize just how much he does once he’s not here. Last night I went to get a glass of water, and I couldn’t find a glass. They were in the dishwasher, waiting to be run. As I turned the dishwasher on, I realized that it’s quite possible I haven’t run a load of dishes in over two months. Ditto on the kitty litter. I’m going to have to both buy and replace the kitty litter.
Sure, I’ll get high and mighty as I replace all of the CDs that Eric always leaves lying around the house, but I just about break down when I remember that I’m the one that’s going to have to take all of that garbage to the dumpster.
I never remember to run laundry. If I do, I usually forget to put it in the dryer. The next day, when I do put them in the dryer, I forget to hang them up. That’s also where my laundry machine breaks down. I’ll pull all of the clean, warm clothes out of the dryer, give ’em a half-ass fold, and then put the basket on the floor of my bedroom. Eric has always just put them away with a minimal amount of griping that I never actually finish the chore of laundry.
But he’s not here to do that. This morning I found that Cal had built a fort out of my cargo pants. They’ll be back in the three-day laundry chore tonight. If I remember. Because I think that I’m going to have all of this endless time since Eric won’t be around, and I’ll get lots of work done and be lonely and miserable but I end up just leaving the house and going out with friends. Then, when Eric gets back, I’m behind in my work, and he has to see me type all night long.
I do everything backwards.
I haven’t cooked something for myself to eat in probably three months. I made a grocery list this afternoon. I honestly can’t remember the last time I went to the store to buy groceries.
When did this happen? I always thought Eric and I shared chores. Now, as I look around at this apartment in my care for a week, I wonder how he had been handling everything without bitching at me to get up and clean. He just cleaned everything.
I cheered last night when I put the futon up by myself. Then the printer broke. Then the VCR wouldn’t program.
And then I couldn’t sleep.
That’s the hardest part. I really can’t sleep. I just sit and listen to the wind hitting the building, or the people outside driving home or the cats wrestling in the living room and I think about things I should be doing, or things I’ve done, or things I want to do. I create a Pillow/Blanket Eric and sometimes put one of his shirts on it to get some sort of Eric smell in the bed. It doesn’t help. Pillow Eric is way too mushy, and Blanket Eric makes me sweat.
Eric is also my alarm clock. This morning I slept through an hour of music. A full hour of music played right beside my bed. When I woke up I saw that I had turned the volume down in my sleep. I know the volume was fine last night. I had checked it three times. But this morning, without Eric to remind me when it was time to get up, I just reached my hand over and turned the volume all the way down and went back to sleep.
It seems that my life is quite dependent on this other person’s. I’m wondering if Eric is having any of the same issues where he is. Does he have a hard time falling asleep because I’m not in there making jokes and singing songs? I guess not. Is he having a harder time figuring out where to have lunch since he doesn’t have me going, “I don’t care. Where would you like to eat?” Yeah, probably not. Maybe he misses all of the bad television I force him to watch, as that encourages his summer reading. Maybe he misses me complaining about his music, or the fact that he leaves condiments out on the kitchen counter. Maybe he misses the way I complain about him leaving wet towels on the bed, and then I leave them on the floor in front of the bathroom. Perhaps he’s thinking about how I’m always complaining about my car but never fixing it or cleaning it.
Could it be all of the newspapers, magazines and scripts that are thrown about the living room? The constantly open computer on the living room table? The late night hours where he just doesn’t get to see me all night except as the crazy-typing girl in the other room?
Or is he just stretching out on his big bed in his hotel room enjoying a few days to himself?
I was driving home last night thinking about how much of my life I share with this person. When you move in together, you really share your life. Mornings and evenings, maybe not all of the day inbetween, but weekends and weeknights and lazy Sundays and holidays and vacations and every other part of your life– when you plan for yourself, you’re also planning for someone else.
Is he happy with that? It just sort of happened. We became one thinking unit that went places together and did things together and split bills and shared chores and raised cats and now the other half of my team isn’t here and I’m wondering how to keep everything going.
I mean, I’ll be fine, yeah, I know that. But it’s strange how much he’s missed when he left just over twelve hours ago. I thought I heard him laughing when I was in the shower this morning. I leaned out and yelled, “What’s that, baby?”
Cal hit the door and tried to jump in the shower. There was my answer.
And part of it is I’m not sleeping and probably won’t sleep much this week, so I’m hallucinating him in the living room while I bathe, sure, I know that. But another part of it is just the normalcy of him being around. Last night when I went out (I told you I just don’t end up staying home), half of the people that I saw asked where Eric was. In that, “Did you cut your hair?” kind of tone that means something is different, or missing.
I have no real point here, just that I miss him and I owe him a big thank you for keeping our home in line while I’ve been crazy with work lately.
This past weekend was a good time, though, as I had friends in from out of town and got to see One Hit Wonder (at the Bad Dog (have you seen it yet?)) again. They’ve got their own web radio show with songs and sketches, which you can hear here. They’re funny. And I’ll keep you posted, but you might be able to hear me on it Saturday.
Jeff update: he found an apartment. Already. In New York City. We take this as a very good sign.
New Young Americans recap up at Mighty Big TV. Come see.