My husbandâs making me nuts.
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Donât get me wrong. Iâm making him nuts, too. But since Iâm the one writing this essay, I get to do the talking. And I say I want him to disappear. Not forever, just for a week or so. Ten days, maybe. Two weeks?
See, every winter since before Johnny and I met, Iâve visited a friend in California (or Georgia, Florida, Arizona â wherever she happens to be living at the time). And every fall, Johnnyâs gone to Ireland to see his mum. But Johnnyâs mum died last year, and my friend is in the throes of finishing her PhD. Neither Johnny nor I have anyone to visit and, as he would say, weâve been living in each otherâs ear holes far too longâ¦
Is there a reason he canât shut off a light behind him? Close a door? Or turn on the damn exhaust fan when he takes a shower? Why does he keep asking me what I want for dinner when I havenât eaten breakfast yet â have I ever one time had an answer? And, speaking of which, if I so much as smell another plate of chicken curry I swear to god Iâllâ
Look, I love him, but one of us has got to go.
Iâve never understood these couples that claim to miss each other when theyâre separated for a single night. (You see? âClaim.â I canât even bring myself to believe them.) Theyâre always checking in, reporting their activities, counting the hours till theyâre back in one anotherâs arms. Gag me, I donât get it. Johnny and I need our time apart. If I try to check in with him when Iâm away, he doesnât answer because heâs out with the boys. If he calls me from the road Iâve got the stereo cranked to eleven, enjoying my empty house too much to listen for the phone.
When weâve spent too many nights together in a row, Iâve been known to retire at 6:00 just to get some time away; heâll fall asleep watching TV in the living room and stay there. We just arenât hip-attachment kind of people. Putting a little space between us once in a while is how we manage to maintain civility for the better part of our domestic lives.
A couple thousand miles every six months or so seems to do the trick. But weâre going on a year. Iâd actually started weighing the pros and cons of handing Johnny a packed bag and a credit card and dropping him off at the airport like an abandoned puppy (except for, you know, what would a puppy do with a credit card?) â when I remembered about Mick.
Mickey, a friend of Johnnyâs from back home in Dublin, got transferred to Canada a couple months ago and insisted Johnny visit as soon as they were settled in. Assuming they are settled in enough by now to have a visitor â and they must be by now, how long could it take? â then Johnny could be off as soon as I can book a flight!
Phew, now maybe I can finally stop this twitchingâ¦
Except I just emailed Mick to ask if I could ship my husband to him for a week or so (or maybe longer) in a month or so (or maybe sooner), and Mick wrote back to say donât book the ticket. The move isnât working out. His wife is staying in Alberta but Mickeyâs going home to Dublin right away. He didnât say it in so many words, but it sounds like theyâll be getting a divorce.
Oh. Well. Gosh. Itâs none of my business, butâ¦ how? This is a couple thatâs been together for thirty years. They were in their teens when they got married, they had children very young, but they made it through all that. The kids are grown now. Theyâre comfortable, financially. If they survived three decades of tribulation back in Dublin, what could possibly have happened (in Canada, no less) to tear them from one another now?
I couldnât bring myself to ask, of course, but Mickey (who always has been generous with his emotions) volunteered. Itâs been coming for a while, he writes. Being alone together in a new place simply forced the issue. Neither of them ever had anywhere to go. Theyâd been living in each otherâs ear holes, driving one another nuts. Putting an ocean between them had become the only way to maintain a semblance of civility for the remainder of their respective lives. You know how it is, he wrote. You know?
Yes. Well, no. I mean, I do, butâ
Thatâs not what I meant when I said one of us had got to go.
Johnny and I are lucky, I suppose, that we know this about our relationship. That I can go to bed at six oâclock, he can pass out on the couch, and we can wake up still loving each other in the morning. Still, though, itâs true Iâve been a little touchy lately. Just because he asks me the same question five times in a row doesnât mean I have to shout the answer at him. And I could let him watch the SciFi channel sometimes; I donât have to carp over it every single night.
When he gets home tonight Iâll have to tell him about Mick, but first I want him to know how much I love him, how glad I am to see him, how proud I am that heâs part of my life. Iâll tell him I missed and thought about him while he was at work, that I was counting down the hours untilâ
Nope, Iâm gagging. Canât do it. Heâs making me nuts.
Think Mickeyâll be ready for a visitor back home in two months? How âbout three? Seriously, how long could it take?
Erin G. Ellia has been writing professionally since 1993, first as Editorial Director for Hear Music (now the âSound of Starbucksâ) and later as a freelancer and ghostwriter. She has recently guest-blogged at shakesville.com. Erin’s own blog can be found at www.thehouseandi.com.
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