I told my husband, who is overseas for the next 7 months in Afghanistan, about my whole 52 figs blog/concept. Much to my surprise, he was excited, noticeably so. I say this was surprising because my husband is a man who often tunes out when it comes to me and my "ideas." I put that word in quotes, because I have been a woman with a lot of ideas. I talk about what I'm going to do, what I want to do, what I'll do when x happens or when y happens. But, to be truthful, I actually DO very little in terms of real action, and what action I do take usually falls by the wayside within a few weeks or months.
I wasn't always this way, but that's a blog for another day.
Back to my husband. He has, over the years, learned to tune me out. I don't think his reaction to me is disrespect or even a lack of love (though it does sometimes feel that way). I think it's just a sort of desensitization after years of hearing me drone on and on about one thing or another. In fact, a few months ago, after an argument between the two of us over his apparent lack of listening skills, my husband finally said to me, "You know, I'll admit it. Sometimes I just stop listening to you."
I asked him, "Why?"
He said, "Because you talk a lot and sometimes I think you just want to talk. I don't think you really want me to answer."
I have to say that even if there is a bit of truth to his statement, it was a hurtful realization that my husband has begun to tune me out. It's like he took a No. 2 pencil and slowly began erasing me from the paper of our lives.
So, when I told him about 52 figs, and his excitement was palpable (even over a poor phone connection involving a disabled iPhone and a Magic Jack), I was surprised, pleasantly so.
My husband was most excited about my desire to drive a sports car with a stick shift, and he told me that it ABSOLUTELY is better than driving a "regular" car and that the stick shift is a MUST. I think that my desire to drive a sports car reminded him of his young-man days when he had a black Corvette. I mean, he still sometimes talks about that car, and in my mind I start to hear Springsteen's lyrics to 'Glory Days.'
He is also excited about my desire to rappel, to sail, to ride horseback and to ride in a motorcycle sidecar.
My husband said, "Have you ever skied?"
I said, "No. For some reason it's just not a big thing for me."
My husband said, "Oh, it's great. It's really great. You're out there in the mountains and just going so fast. I think you should put it on your list."
I said, "Well, the list is already made. So, we can do it for sure, but I don't want to change the list."
Then, when I spoke with my husband today he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was looking up the opera schedule for this year, thinking of going to the opera in October.
He said, "You're not going to wait for me?"
I said, "Well, you won't get home in time, and I only have a year. So, I'll have to go alone."
He said, "Well, can't you just start your year when I get home?"
I paused. I was surprised (again) by the question, by his interest and by his seeming desire to participate in something that I see as uniquely my own. They are my 52 figs.
I said, "Well, this is really kind of my list. I want to do it now. It's stuff I've wanted to do for along time."
He was quiet. I felt badly about it, and I started to try to think of ways I could mend the conversation and turn it around.
I said, "I can wait for you to rent the sports car. And do you know a place I can rappel?"
He said, "Oh, no. This is your list."
So, then I felt guilty and sorry but also a little angry and annoyed. I have spent the last five years at home with our kids, moving around the country to support my husband and putting my dreams on hold so that I can be the still part in the middle of all these moving parts. I won't say I haven't resented it at times, but I've done it because I truly believe it's in the best interst of our family and because, frankly, I said I'd do it when I told my husband I wanted to have a baby. This, too, is a post for another day.
But now, when I finally slap myself and say: Girl, it's your time. Get on with it now and don't wait for anyone else to make you happy or fill your bucket - now, my husband wants in and wants me to wait and feels left out.
Since being married, I've wondered a lot about the institution of marriage and if we, as a society, have outgrown it. Are we past the point of needing another person on a day-to-day basis? And if we aren't, what does that perpetual needing do not only to us as a couple but to as individual people? Can we be independent and dependent at the same time? And if we can, where is the line between them, which grows so blurry at times I'm afraid it's gone for good.
I'm not going to wait for my husband. I'm not going to give myself yet another reason to put off doing today what I could have done yesterday. I'm not going to keep looking to the future for my happiness when I can take small steps today, right now, toward a richer life - even if that life is baking challah or reading a novel or getting a spray tan (which I don't actually think will make me happier, but it's on the list nonetheless).
I will risk my husband's unhappiness because, frankly, I'd rather risk that than risk my own.
Quote of Inspiration
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Atilla and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar