Today, as I was about to make a comment on another blogger's absolutely magnificently poignant post, I stopped myself.
Because I have to come clean here. I have to tell you about the fight, and the reason I have been ignoring you.
So here goes.
J and I had spent the day running wedding errands. We left the house around noon, and we finally stumbled home around 8:30 or so. We were looking forward to a quiet evening, sipping drinks in the backyard. J grabbed a beer, and I made a martini for the occasion.
We began chatting, and laughing, and then the conversation turned more serious. We started a real discussion about our careers, and our future family... Those adorable babies we will call V. and H. (Because I totally have their names picked out already! And they are so cute! In my brain!)
We do a lot of talking about V and H. Because we love them already, and we want to make sure we are providing them the best life possible. And that they like vegetables and Thai cuisine. And that they don't watch too much television, but not NO television, because that would be very restrictive and unrealistic, and hey man, we are conscientious, sensible parents. You know, to our yet-to-be conceived offspring. V and H.
One day last year J came home and proclaimed: "We will not have babies until we have 6 million dollars in the bank*." And then my eyes bugged out of my head and I argued that, J, 6 mil* is a lot of cash. Surely we could be less aggressive?
But then J convinced me that once we had that seed money, we could live comfortably, and have much more flexibility. So I went with it. Today, We save nearly 40% of our paychecks each month. We live below our means (save my penchant for expensive martinis and Coach) in order to achieve our lofty goals. And we both feel good about that.
Now, J is getting his MBA. It is a legitimate expense, but we can handle it. And since J is in school, and working full-time, he came home one day recently and proclaimed that V and H were on hold until he was nearly done with his Master's. His reasoning was sound: he wanted to be completely available to those babies after work.
With all of this happening, and V and H remaining a gleam in our eye until, er, 2010 or so, I reasoned that I should be in school now. I want an advanced degree, and why not be in school together?
Which leads us back to this idle Saturday night, in which we discuss options. Options that always seem to assume J is the constant, and I am the variable. I can continue in my job now. Or I can quit my job. Or I can get another job. It's all good.
And, that, right there, is the problem for me.
I have many faults, Internet. I am often too whimsical and idealistic. I procrastinate. I can be selfish and lazy and petulant, sometimes all in the same afternoon. I hate to share food. I am extremely unpleasant most mornings. And sometimes, just sometimes, I set lofty goals for myself - aloud - and then I forget about those goals, because, you know, something else came up. And that last sin is unforgivable, because it injures the validity of my word. It may perpetuate the notion that I am the variable. I may call you back when I say I will. But I may not. I may say I will study for the GMATs daily, but may pop in The Tudors DVD instead.
But see here: throughout all of these meaderings and foibles, I have never stopped believing that I am destined to be something.
I will score well on the GMATs. I will get an MBA, and eventually a PhD. I will publish a novel. We will be wealthy. We will raise nice children. We will make an indelible mark on this world.
I believe I matter, even if you don't. Even if I am but one blogger in a slew of 632 billion.
It follows then, that my career should matter. My job should matter. The long and short of it is: I should be a constant too.
Hello, me, over here, on the blog? I'm not killing time. I am not just pittering around in this job to throw in the towel when I have babies. I'm not. It's not me. I aspire to be a mother. I aspire to be professionally successful. I want both. And I will not forfeit either aspiration. And this blog? Believe it or not, I think it is legitimate. Even if you don't. I practice my craft here, and eventually, I am going to be published, on like, actual paper. I have before. I will again.
I should interrupt my rant here to tell you that my future husband is a wonderful, kind man, who wants to give me (along with V and H) everything I want and need in this world, and he is willing to work damn hard for it all. He is a good person, with a heart that breaks Dr. Seuss-like measuring devices. This whole fight evolved from a tragic male/female miscommunication.
He said: Do whatever you want to do! You can work or not work, whatever you want to do.
I heard: I don't value your professional contribution. It's really not as meaningful as mine, dear. Ya geddit? I am the constant. I am the breadwinner. You are the variable. You don't work? Cool. You bring in money? Even better. But, you know, whatever.
And. That's not me.
Later, I said: Well, what if I do quit my job, and work full-time as a freelance writer?
He said: You don't just become a freelance writer. You have to know people, and you have to really work at it. You won't make money overnight.
I heard: I don't believe in you.
You see what happened there? Disaster. J was being practical, and I was being idealistic. We were communicating on two completely different wavelengths.
You can imagine his initial shock and confusion when I subsequently burst into tears and walked inside the house, where I sat in the kitchen for an hour, sobbing. I ignored his pleas to stop crying, to come into the living room, to please talk about this. The pleas became angrier. Stop twisting my words! He roared, as I reiterated over and over that he didn't believe in me, that my blog was ridiculous, an inconsequential pasttime for a stupid, silly girl, who should just accept that she is merely mediocre.
This is communication breakdown at it's ugliest. And our worst fight to date. I eventually retreated upstairs to the bedroom, bleary-eyed. He stayed on the couch until about two AM, when he crept into bed, explaining he couldn't sleep: he was having dreams that I was having savage dogs attack him.
Yeah, that's pretty much what it felt like.
The next morning we woke early, both wounded, guarded still. We talked and talked, words chosen carefully. We tried to get it right. And we did well. Though even after J assured me that he loved my blog, that it did matter, I still couldn't bring myself to write anything.
But I'm glad I wrote this, even if it was just for me, and J. I feel lighter now. And I am convinced that it does matter, if only just to me, and J, and you, and a few other people who happen to google "orbs" or "politicians" and stumble across me. It's still something.
Also, the fight? It was a good thing, although it left us both vaguely sick for days. Now we understand each other just a bit more. I know if I say I am going to do something, well then, it needs to be done. That's just good practice. I also know how important it is to J that I get it done. Something as seemingly benign as never baking the banana muffins I swear I am making at least weekly (there are Tudors episodes to watch!), well, it shakes his faith in me, ever so slightly. And he needs to trust that I am a wife of my word. There are two of us in this relationship, after all.
* Numbers have been grossly inflated. Writer enjoys hyperbole.