Surviving

Tonight, big things might happen.  We might sleep in the bedroom.

It’s summer, so I’m sure all of you know it’s hot out.  But here where we are (and maybe where you are, too), we are just ending a week-long heat wave.  It’s always humid in Boston in the summer, but I think mostly it only gets to the high eighties.  And you guys, we suffer in the high eighties.  So you can imagine how well we’ve been surviving the 101 and even just mid- to high-nineties.  Not surviving. Suffering.

Anyway, Turtle and I finally put in the AC (just as I was thinking, Look! We are surviving the summer without AC!) and hung fancy looking curtains (read: old sheets… and by “hang” I mean “nailed to our doorframes”) in our doorways to create a cool part of the house.  And then we dragged our mattress into the living room and we have been living there.  If we had ever done this in our old apartment, we would not have been able to function.  It’s amazing how much a little more space can do for your sanity.  A lot. It can do a lot for your sanity.

Well, today it poured and now it is only 74 degrees out, and we are using fans instead of air conditioning, and it is lovely.

These adventures – putting in a window AC unit together, camping out on our living room floor, walking around in our underwear because it’s too hot for more layers than you really need – are the adventures that I desperately want.  I don’t need fancy trips or pretty things (though I wouldn’t object to those things, of course) – I need a little bit of fun, the ability to laugh at an outfit (um, tanktop tucked up and over itself to create a weird bra/t-shirt look, anyone?), the ability to be creative and enjoy the changes together.

A couple of weeks ago, Turtle and I had been arguing a lot.  It was really just a lot of stupid little volleys over stupid little things.  “Did you feed the cats?”  “I thought you said you would feed the cats! I’m busy!”  “Well, I’ve just been cleaning the house while you’re sitting there.” Etcetera.

This is not typical Turtle-Bird argument pattern. This is new, and weird, and remarkably easy to get sucked into.  It’s easy, sometimes, to just be offended, to simply respond, without thinking about where the other person is coming from or why you’re having this argument in the first place.  Examples might be: one of us is overwhelmed, and the other one seems calm; or, one of us already fed and walked the dog, and our deal is that the other person feeds the cats.  All very reasonable.

I was complaining to my (awesome) therapist about this the other day, and I said, “We used to just stop and say, ‘We’re having different experiences and coming at this from different directions. What are you feeling? What do you need from me?’ And now we’re all, ‘Why don’t you understand my experience?!’  What has happened?”

And she said we’re right on schedule – two and a half years in.  Nice job, Turtle – at least we can be on time for this, if nothing else!  She also said that if we started things right, back in the day, we have it in us to do things right.  We already have these skills – we just have to find them in us.  And since then, we’ve been trying to not do this volleying, trying to slow down and realize that we are having these different experiences.

So I’m working on talking myself down even before I open my mouth. And I did it, at least once, very successfully!

I was trying to print something, and having moved a month ago, we still live in chaos.  I put my printer on the desk, where there was a cup. The desk is in the study/room of stuff that doesn’t have a home, so I didn’t think too much about there being a cup there.  And I nudged the cup out of the way with my printer.  And it spilled water everywhere. On the printer, the lavender pillow, a calendar, framed pictures (did I mention this is the room for stuff that doesn’t have a place yet?).  And I went, “ARGH, TURTLE.”  And then I grumbled as I flung stuff off the desk, as I started to run into the kitchen for paper towels… and then I realized, THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY.  Bird, it is just water.  That’s it.  You already moved the stuff the water would hurt.

So I walked the rest of the way to the kitchen, got the paper towels, and then calmly got a real towel and cleaned up the wet but insignificant mess. And I thought about why the cup was there – it was there because she used it to pour water into the iron when she was getting her clothes ready for our engagement shoot.  You know, the one to capture how we love each other.

So I calmed down, and then a few minutes later I was looking for a stapler and found it, right away, because Turtle is good at keeping things organized and giving things a home.  And I love her for that.

So, self? Nice job.  Keep it up.

The point of this long and rambling post is that we are happy, even if it’s in ways that romantic comedies would find boring, and even though – or maybe because – it’s hard sometimes, and we are figuring out how to work with and around that.

What are you noticing, enjoying, or appreciating in your relationship these days? And what are you doing to survive the awful heat?

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5 Comments

Filed under Relationships

5 responses to “Surviving

  1. Living in Florida is sort of like always living during a heat wave. It is awful. I get very cranky in the heat. I cannot stand to get hot or sweaty for no good reason (i.e. walking the dog, walking to the car, watering the plants, etc.) so Florida in the summer is miserable to me. This must be what you have been feeling.

    Luckily for me I work inside a hospital where it is always very cool and our house’s AC does a great job of keeping the temp about 77-78 all the time.

    Helpful Hint: We play the “how close can you get game” when driving somewhere. In other words, park as close as possible to the nearest air-conditioned building and avoid being outside!

  2. To survive the heat I repeatedly tell girlfriend that I am sweating, even though I know she is sweating, and she knows I am sweating, I still have to whine about it dramatically.

    Additionally, we have adopted the “fancy curtains” method to keep the lovely air conditioned air concentrated in the living room and bedroom, and keep it away from the bathroom, hallway and kitchen area. Walking to the kitchen to make the coffee is like taking an early morning trip to hades. Philadelphia is dreadfully warm and humid. I can never live any further south than philadelphia. I might melt here as it is.

    • Haha well said, leah! And I hear you about the whining. We’re trying to bask in the nice weather (sitting on the steps outside as I type this) because we know we’ll be hiding in the living room once it gets hot.

  3. friend

    While this is slightly off topic (or at least off to the side a little?), I would like to say:

    Thank you for mentioning the 2 1/2 year thing! And thanks to your therapist, too, for the good advice. I had no idea about that and was having the same sort of “oh no why are we so frequently catty all of the sudden?!” feelings, but apparently my partner & I are also right on schedule. I appreciate that you’re able to talk about these things honestly… it helps the rest of us humans feel like our non-romantic-comedy-relationships are doing just fine.

    Also, I have totally done the tank-top-into-bra-thing outfit as well. It’s just necessary sometimes.

  4. It’s funny how easy it can be to abuse the person you love the most over little things. I think you are doing well to check yourself when you start to notice that mentality creep up.

    And I totally agree with you on the small adventures. Someday when I’m old, I want to have fun memories of roughing it with Mr. Beagle when we were young — heat, housing arrangements, etc. We’re not living in luxury, but we are sure creating those lasting memories.

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