We’re drinking coffee in bed. It’s earlier than usual. I have a busy day ahead.
“What are you talking about?” I ask.
“You must have been having a nightmare. All I know is you were flailing around and mumbling and then you punched me.”
I imagine I’m looking at him in horror. Or bewilderment.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
He shakes his head no. His expression tells me he’s serious.
It’s been smooth sailing from Day One, to my amazement. I hadn’t been on the romance racetrack in several years – of necessity. My sons were the priority, as was earning a living. It was a decision about time and timing – the time to invest in meeting people, the time to doll myself up and go out, the time to devote to getting to know someone. Truly know someone.
I was waiting for my boys to become independent enough for me to loosen the reins.
There was a chance meeting, an immediate spark, an unlikely set of experiences in common and, from the beginning – a foundation of values that mesh.
And there’s laughter. So much laughter.
But last night, I picked a fight.
It was a small disagreement over pots and pans and spatulas, and I could feel my annoyance building until it bubbled over when I was searching for dishes and lids. Of course my real issue had nothing to do with the extra minutes to pull over a step stool and scan shelves or rummage through containers.
An hour later I sorted through the feelings that set me off, and I broached the subject gingerly and with a sincere apology. Naturally, my irritation had little to do with reorganized kitchen cabinets. It has everything to do with time, money, and a passel of worries that cannot be dissipated by sharing a meal and conversation – even in the loveliest of blossoming relationships.
It has everything to do with this new rhythm, togetherness with its inevitable demands, and what it’s costing me – despite all the pleasure that it’s giving me.
That it’s giving us.
I’m used to putting in extremely long days, every day, and it’s especially important when looking for work. There’s researching, drafting, editing and pitching; there’s time spent networking, and responding to requests for bids or filling out applications. There’s writing daily, here, and when looking for projects, this last is a painfully restricted amount of time.
12-hour days? 14-hour days?
That’s nothing new around here, or for many single mothers and in particular, solo parents who can’t afford help. And it’s hardly a schedule that accommodates romance.
Then there’s my son – the one who is still knocking around the house, and our shared task list to do with promissory notes and plane tickets, planning for college and hacking away at the budget to deal with all of this. There’s my own inability to articulate what I’m feeling – as I both deny and accept wholesale changes on the horizon.
Apparently we pick fights out of resentment, out of depression, and out of fear.
For me, surely this is fear.
Fear that this delicious “whatever” will disappear. Fear that it will continue, and my dreams will be set aside as a result. Fear that it will become something I no longer want. Fear that I can’t possibly devote the time to a relationship that I would like, and then “we” will become something he doesn’t want.
One more fear?
The writer’s life – the way I live it – has become so ingrained in me that I will feel conflict over the hours of each day that I’m not writing, and instead, spending with him.
And now there’s the nightmare that I have absolutely no recollection of, and that in itself is an oddity for me. I wonder what scenario caused me to thrash about, ball my hand into a fist, and apparently strike; I can only hope, in some defensive posturing.
What was being taken from me? What was being threatened? Why do we stir things up over something silly, and only later come to know that it was something else entirely?
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