“You’re no picnic either,” he says.
“What do you mean?” I ask, grinning.
“Those things you wrote about me. About sleeping with me.”
I can’t help it. Now I’m laughing. He doesn’t usually read what I write, unless I explicitly ask. But I was bitching and moaning the morning after, and I dragged through a couple of days after the All Star Evening of Shared Bed Madness.
Apparently, my responses to his tossing and turning made for a lousy night’s sleep for him, too, afterward.
“You’re no picnic to sleep with either. You scoot halfway down on the bed, you hang your legs out diagonally, you move non-stop, your laptop is glowing by your pillow, and half the time I hear your Girlfriends show – whatever it is – coming through your earphones in the middle of the night.”
“My what show?”
“You know the one. With those women in New York.”
I’m shaking my head, I’m shaking my head, I’m shaking my head.
Yes, indeed. When he’s out cold and I’m not sleepy, I’m working in bed and listening to reruns of Sex and the City. Or I’m watching reruns of Sex and the City at two in the morning. I guess that’s the “girlfriends” show he means.
And when I finally nod off, maybe the sound of their voices is coming out of one of the tiny speakers until the episode ends.
“Even if I do keep you up from time to time,” I say, “you can catnap sitting up. Hell, you fall asleep in the middle of a conversation!”
Now he’s laughing. He knows it’s true.
And I’m wondering how many aspects of Real Life he puts up with and says nothing about – things I do that annoy him, that strike him as odd, that are part and parcel of accepting me “as I am” – in my stage of life where I am all about “take me as I am,” just as I expect to extend the same courtesy to the person I love.
He need not be anyone other than himself with me. And I hope he knows that.
Sometimes I think that marriage brings out our “worst” selves. Then again, that’s a bit of a cliché. I don’t think I was my worst self in marriage – far from it – but nor was I the “self” I imagined I would be. The realities of doing it all were more stressful and exhausting than I could ever have foreseen.
Not long ago, I was chatting with an old friend about life before marriage. There were years with no relationships at all – not even a first date. There were years with an occasional relationship of six months. And before meeting the man I married, there was a serious relationship that endured three years. It was very off again, on again, but I sometimes think of him as “the one that got away.”
There were many qualities about him, about us – that were wonderful. Talking about him with a friend reminded me of that. Yet I couldn’t help but recall that close as we were, I was always on my “best behavior.” I think we’re like that when we’re young – some of us, at least – worried about letting down too many barriers, worried about letting it “all hang out,” worried that if we seem too imperfect, the “perfect guy” (for us) will simply up and disappear.
Eventually, that relationship ended. And comparing how I was with him to how I am today, how I would be with anyone today, I’m grateful to feel comfortable enough to be myself.
I hope it is a “good” self. It certainly isn’t my best self (if such a thing exists), and nor is it my worst self. But I am surely my “truest” self, which says a great deal about the man who wakes up in bed next to me, and feels free to say: “You’re no picnic to sleep with either.”
And then we laugh, heartily, together.