It’s that time of year again. B. is done teaching for the semester and that means that he is home for the entire summer. The. Entire. Summer. Now, given that he works practically 24/7 during the semester, you’d think that I’d be thrilled to have him available for ten weeks or so. And I am. There are movies to go to (and catch up on), trips to take, an anniversary to celebrate, friends to see, mischief to get into — and both of us home at the same time.
Did I say that his break is for ten weeks?
I work at home, which means that I’m used to having the space all to myself during the week from the hours of 7 am to dinnertime or until 11 pm, depending on B.’s schedule that day. So what happens when he’s now in my space? You know Newton’s third law — for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? Let’s just say we’ve got Newton in the house. And I don’t mean fig.
B. is the kind of person who wakes up bursting with things to say. Issues to grapple. Analysis to share. And, above all, conversation to make. Which is fine when he’s getting ready to leave for work. But a bit overwhelming when he’s getting ready to stay home. There I’ll be, writing or researching a story, minding my own business, when suddenly:
He: You know what I’m wondering?
Me: (Uh-oh). No. What, honey?
He: I’m wondering what Oliver Wendell Holmes would think of the justices on today’s Supreme Court. (B. practiced law for a couple of decades.)
Me: Interesting thought. (Oh, boy, here comes the analysis).
He: Because if you analyze each of the justices separately …
Me: (Oh, God, separately? There are nine justices!)
He: You know, let me just show you what I mean. Be right back.
Me: (Playing dead)
See? Action — and equal and opposite reaction.
Or there’s the curiosity thing. B. is one of the most curious people you’ll ever meet, and it’s an endearing trait. He wants to hear all you want to tell him, and asks the appropriate questions. In short, he can make you feel like you’re the only person in the world when he focuses on you. And that spells trouble with a capital T (T is for talk).
Because after an entire semester of basically being disconnected from the daily stuff of life, he’s curious about why I do certain things the way I do. “Why is your cell phone recharging over there? How can you work with the music turned up? Why is the ceiling fan on?” “Because I like it there. Because it helps me to be creative. Because I need the breeze.” To be clear, his questions aren’t criticisms — he’s just curious. After a couple of weeks of this, I like to remind him of what curiosity did to the cat.
Again, action and its opposite.
I’m not really complaining here (well, maybe a little) — because I know how very lucky I am. Lucky to be married to the man I first met over 40 years ago and have been married to for 20 years this summer. (The 20-plus years in between? A long — and funny — story. Sort of When Harry Met Sally-esque.) A man who thinks I’m the cat’s pajamas and whom I think is the bee’s knees. A man whom I absolutely adore, who always makes me laugh, and who is the love of my life (and who thinks I’m brilliant, fascinating, and sexy — at least that’s what he wrote in a Valentine that he sent me at one point over that 20-plus-year gap).
With all those positives, these minor summer-break adjustments are just that. Adjustments. And by the time B. goes back for fall semester, I’m so used to having him around that I actually miss my summer buddy.
Reactions speak louder than words.
ⓒ 2017 Claudia Grossman