The Habit of Crisis

For weeks and weeks and, I think, weeks, Shannon & I have had no crisis. The pace to which we had become accustomed has broken stride, and we would have stumbled. Fortunately, there were others nearby, and they had crisis to some degree and could lend us a cup or two.

Not much of a crisis, mind you; just something that extra hands would do well for. We had extra hands and are good neighbors. Crisis navigated, life goes on, but Shannon and I still lack for crisis of our own…but there are kids, there are relatives of varying degree and description, there are friends of friends in need, and our hands have no crisis of our own, so –

At some point recently I became somewhat grumpy. I couldn’t put my finger to just why. Then my son’s life had a fairly major blow-up at the same time that the in-laws irrigation system had a fairly major blow-up, and we dropped everything and drove south to tend to both issues. The week following was out of kilter; the laundry was undone, the kitchen fouled with a week’s accumulation (we do dishes, but there are deep-cleaning things that wait for the weekend), the garden was untended, the writing not done, the yoga not practiced.

Shannon, stepping carefully next to me as we picked our way through our own untended chores, noted “I want to live my life for a while instead of everyone else’s.”

Bingo. The source of my grumpiness.

This weekend we tended us. We walked through gardens, we played with fluff (well, Shannon played with fluff), I will write, we yogged, laundry is even now in the doing, the kitchen is all a-soak, and there is a steak marinating while a soup steams on the stove. Later, I think, there will be an Indy or a Caspian.

OUR weekend.

Just right. Smart wife. I wish she’s said it earlier.

Crossposted from Epinepherine & Sophistry

The Play-by-Play

Monday night I came home a bit dejected-seeming from work. I asked Bridgette, “how bad would it be if I went a bit over-budget on your birthday?”

The cautious reply: “How much over budget?”

“$300?”

“That might be pushing things a bit….”

“How about $850?” I paused for her shock, and to let that sink in for a moment. “See, there was this ATV for sale, shiny-black, with a raccoon tail from the antennae and the mudflap girl on the back…. Okay. Relax. I didn’t buy the ATV.” We talked for a bit and I noted that I’d been looking at rings, and hadn’t been comfortable with the choices available or spending the money from our joint account.

“You’re tipping your hand about the ATV,” she noted. We explored for a bit, and finally decided that what I’d need was for her to join me in shopping for rings and looking at price tags, and hoped to do that later in the week, or perhaps the week after.

Tuesday was Bridgette’s birthday. I woke her to kisses and flowers, wished her a happy birthday and left her to go back to sleep. When she rose to shut off the alarm clock and feed the baby birds (she breeds birds) she found two boxes of crackers next to the clock, decorated with a bright bow and a card; “Why would this be a good present? Love you….” Following a chain of reason, she investigated the refrigerator and discovered a gift bag with a cheese torte(sun-dried tomato with basil and garlic. Mmmmm.) and a more sentimentally appropriate card.

And so the day went. She needed to wrestle boxes to find appropriate clothing for dinner that night, and on her boxes of clothes was another gift. Her niece and nephew had called her and asked her to stop by to receive hand-made birthday cards and found more gifts (one of these was a couple yards of foil garland to wear in her hair, something I’d asked her neice to insist on. Why? Because public humiliation is how we say “I love you” to those we hold close.). She knows me well enough that when she joined me to go to dinner, she was expecting a dramatic finish to the gift build-up. After the discussion last night, she wasn’t expecting (I believe) a ring, but might still be thinking a formal proposal was in the works. There was nothing. I was quite appreciative of how she was decked out (pause while I think about that for a moment.) but provided no new gifts. The tension, I suspect, was something that you could cut with a knife and spread on crackers, if you ran out of cheese torte with sun-dried tomato and garlic and basil.

Dinner was at the Jacksonville Inn. We got very nearly lost on the way; I was, I explained, following directions gleaned from the phone, but we relied heavily on Bridgette’s memory from 15 years ago to get us there. With obviously apparent luck, we overshot the restaurant by only a block and were there. The place is just wallowing in affluent luxury. I loved it. We were seated, and considered wines and appetizers and such, and things were lovely. After the appetizer was served, another tray was set near the table, and several gift bags were placed on the tray and then served to Bridgette. Inside was a ridiculous number of varied plant bulbs — I had given her a garden for her birthday, our first garden together. Misty eyes, big smiles, much kudos for a day of pleasant surprises and build-ups, and for seeming entirely ignorant of the location of the Jacksonville Inn when I had obviously set up this business during the day. Very nice. The dramatic finish was manifest, and the tension was correspondingly lower. A pleasant meal followed, with warm side passages into birthday appreciation, both for the birthday girl and the choreographer.

Dessert was brought, a tray of some dozen desserts, each one introduced to us by our server, it’s proper name given and its heritage discussed, along with the relative virtues of each dessert. Finally, she turned the tray 180 degrees on the table, saying, “And tonight we have a special selection –” and revealed the open ring box that had been facing away from Bridgette through the production.

I looked the tray over and said, thoughtfully considering, “I think we should have the ring.”

Bridgette was crying before I could hit the floor with a bended knee. Neither of us recalls exactly what I asked, but it was apparently quite eloquent. By the end of it I was breaking up, too. I was kissed and hugged and she eventually said, against my neck, “Yes.” There was more of the kissing and such, and then she continued the murmur through happy tears, “I think the lemon mousse.”

Perfect. Never let a minor issue like the proposal of marriage interfere with an important affair like dessert.

And, in fact, the mousse was terrific.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Explain this

I have spent, over the years, quite a lot of time thinking about the whole Zelda business, and how it might have been kept from going so woefully awry. In the end, I think, perhaps, the mistake was marrying. Not Zelda specifically (although we were perhaps tempermentally unsuited to one another in some ways.), but in general. Without going into pages of detail (for a change), there is little that can be gained from a legal piece of paper that cannot be gained from a lifetime commitment without one.

So, last Tuesday night I became engaged to Bridgette. It seems like a good idea for reasons that, I have determined in conversation with Aberdeen, boil down to “I want to.”

Details to follow.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

Whoops?

I noticed today that, in the past three weeks, I have stayed in my own apartment twice. And I have started to purchase half the groceries at Bridgette’s apartment.

Neither Bridgette or I seem to recall making any decisions on this, specifically. She just stopped asking if I was staying, and I stopped checking to see if that was wished for. I think keeping my apartment is a good idea, regardless; it’s good to have alternatives, and like that. Or, as she put it, “It’s good to be able to kick you out if I need to.” And it’s good for me to have a place to run away to, if I need to.

This has just been a very odd sort of relationship, all through.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry

The Unnamed Interaction

So. It occurs to me that, by and large, I have been posting under the “Private” setting. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy posting to my friends, it’s just that I feel that a person should be able to enjoy smearing goat butter where ever she likes without some voluble exhibitionist (that would be me) bandying the news about in public. So.

Gardening proceeds apace, turning a patch of asphault in the barrio of Corvallis into a riot of blooms and foliage. Bridgette’s cats have come to not merely accept my presence, but expect it and resent it when I fail to show. Mornings begin with my strolling over on the way to work, entertaining the cats and making myself tea, and passing time with Bridgette when she comes home from work, before I leave for mine. Generally, I pass by again on the way home and we sort of exchange roles as she preps for work and I come down for the evening. Very pleasant.

Bridgette recently showed uncommon personal ability (not unique to my experience, but rare) by noticing that she was the obstacle standing between herself and things that benefitted her (that would be relating to me) and so she — stopped. Didn’t look for outside assistance, didn’t make excuses, just fixed things that she was doing and got out of her own way.

Cool

We poked about for signs of panic, claustrophobia, over-involvement, and didn’t find any on either part. Hard to get used to not living from crisis to crisis. Hard to get used to developments being good things. Hard to get used to people around me taking care of their own problems (again, not unique in my experience, but the folk I know who do that live miles and miles away).

I think I like it, rather a lot.

And there’s nothing wrong with smearing goat butter, if the butter’s fresh.

Oh — right. “The Unnamed Interaction.” There has been some discussion on interpersonal interaction nomenclature; we have been doing something that is not just dating, although there have been date-like happenings. More than friends. Much more than insignificant others. Significant others … a bit premature, we both feel. My vote is for calling what we are doing a “mature relationship”, but Bridgette wants no part of anything that includes the word “mature”…which I sympathize with on principle. We have determined to enjoy a nomenclatureless interaction and simply celebrate that it’s working so well on so many levels.

But. I must point out that, if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, and seeks out the god of vengeance, Horus, like a duck would, one must suspect that it may be some form of waterfowl. Y’know, I gotta say this is some sort of early stage of significant other kind of relationship. But denial is a pleasant sort of exercise, and keeps the panicky stuff at bay, so I’m not pushing. Shutting up is my best skill, these days, and I’m honing it finer.

Most people are relieved.

Crossposted from Epinephrine & Sophistry