In which there’s a retrospective.
Ten years ago today, I lived in Fairfield, IA, freeloading off of an ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend by staying in their extra bedroom after having made myself homeless by leaving my husband a couple months before. (Well, technically, my ex-boyfriend and I were both freeloading off her, really, since it was her house and I don’t think either of us paid her rent regularly. I did pay sometimes, but not enough, although I did a lot of cooking while I lived there, and some cleaning, too, so hopefully that helped her out some.)
Not specifically from January 13th, but here’s some food I made a decade ago, as proof:
She later became my ex-husband’s girlfriend, and I think she may have moved into my old farmhouse with him (I think so because she bought a building in Batavia), and for all I know they’re still together. They were still together as recently as a year ago, from what I can glean from Facebook, and more power to them.
Ten years ago today I was supposed to go bowling for her birthday, but I blew it off because it was cold out and I was probably doing coke. (And eleven years ago today, according to my blog, my ex-husband made me leave her birthday bowling early and go home, because he always did shit like that.)
Ten years ago today I was unemployed, uncertain, and had been unsettled and afraid for years. My marriage had failed to feel safe in any way: financially, emotionally, physically, or sexually. I’d tried so hard, but when I’d left the autumn before, that house was a standing wreck with holes in the walls, I’d had half a dozen miscarriages, and I was in collections several times over.
Five years ago today, I lived in Walla Walla in my grandmother’s attic, and had a gig in the Tri-cities at a biker bar with my band, for which I was probably paid a hundred bucks, and at which I wore a sweater and most likely got drunk.
I was single again, having broken up with a guy I’d dated from work, and pretty much over relationshipping altogether. More trouble that they were worth, relationships were, and always some guy crying at the end, baffled that I didn’t want to put up with his shit forever.
I was ready to be single for the rest of my life, and absolutely comfortable with it. I had a bicycle, an easy job, a bento hobby, and a band that played festivals.
Today, I live in Minneapolis with a wonderful person who makes me feel safe and cared for, and who laughs at my jokes… when he feels like it. (Which is to say if he doesn’t laugh, it’s not because he doesn’t get it. He gets my jokes.)
Today I woke up cuddling with my beloved and smooched him off to work. I’ve done a mess of dishes, ordered groceries, and made white bean soup in the electric pressure cooker (it smells wonderful).
I’m old and fat. I will definitely get older, and based on how hard it is to lose weight now that I’m 48, will either stay fat or get fatter.
And so it goes.
I don’t know that I’m any more stable now, by certain metrics, than I was five or ten years ago; I’m still poor and depending on someone else for shelter. I haven’t paid rent since the last time I handed my ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend money for letting me stay in her spare room. I’m freeloader as fuck.
I was having trouble finding work then, and it never really got much better. I’ve had jobs since, and I have one now, of course, but I’ve turned out to not be much of an earner. And my jobs have been, for the most part, pretty low-quality.
With the exception of LISCO, I’ve rarely liked working anywhere — one works for money, not fun — and I imagine I liked working there for a variety of reasons (like youth and enthusiasm and the chance to get paid to learn stuff) that I’d have gotten over eventually, had my ex-husband not managed to get me laid off through a combination of asking me to work part-time so I could focus on cleaning up after him, and then having me take an extended LOA to help him “sell roofs” in Indianapolis.
Most of my life’s contributions so far have been of the unpaid variety, like housewifery, so-called “emotional labor” (which, now that I’m in a decent relationship, I can see really means “picking the wrong partner and expecting then to make sense to you when your basic expectations are fundamentally different”), knitting things, writing things, situational comedy, and music (which, while a great hobby, was never enough to live on).
Money just has no interest in me, and yet I manage to be wealthier than a whole portion of humanity. It blows my mind. I mean, it’s not like I could buy a yacht, but indoor plumbing and HVAC and grocery delivery and I have so many clothes I can’t even guesstimate how many outfits I own.
Another form of wealth is that in my current life, I never, ever have to nag my partner. For anything. Ever. (Except the blender.) [Inside joke.] He does what he says he’ll do. If I need anything, I just ask and he does his best, which for the past three years has always been enough if not far more than.
It’s really easy to be with someone whose fundamental expectations of how a relationship should be line up with yours. I used to believe that bullshit about how “relationships are hard work,” but now I think that’s only true if you’re in one that sucks. My ex-husband and I had radically different expectations of marriage, and that’s why it failed. I would never for a moment allow anyone to think I didn’t put in the hard work, because I worked my ass off. He probably did too, in his ways. But no amount of “work” can turn you into fundamentally different people.
It turns out that good relationship is easy, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s hard work still, but it’s between each of us and life in general, not between each of us and the relationship itself. We don’t have to “work” to take care of one another, it just happens spontaneously. Even if I were still less domestic, even if I were still interested in pursuing a career, this relationship would work. It’s not the details, it’s the expectations.
The only thing that could make my life better than it is right now would be for us to move back to Walla Walla. I miss my family, and I’ve been too lazy to make new friends here. (Well, not just lazy. The weather’s awful a great deal of the time; I think I’m aging out of just going to bars until I meet random people and befriending them; sometimes I spend months on end feeling exhausted and inward because of perimenopause.)
Plus I already have friends! Tons of friends. They just all happen to not be anywhere near where I am right now, which is, as you can imagine, pretty awkward. But hey, what can you do when the love of your life wants to live in Minnesota for now. Just wait it out!