Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Nomad and The Loner

Is everyone familiar with the "single girl behaviors" conversation from that one episode of Sex and the City? It's the one where they all confess the strange things they do when no one is around to witness it. Things like staring at your pores in a magnifying mirror, eating crackers while standing and reading fashion magazines... They aren't truly strange Buffalo Bill type things, just things of a particular nature that you aren't necessarily proud to be caught doing. The conversation in the movie is that they're all living with men/husbands and they're afraid of having their significant others witness their strange habits.

I understand this feeling completely. I lived alone for four years before moving in with my husband (then boyfriend) and his three roommates. (We lived there for six months before buying our house. At that point, living with only one man felt like living in a spa.) We're obviously now married and are one of those couples who share a complete disregard for other person's privacy and boundaries. The bathroom may as well not have a lock, let alone a door. We talk about our bodily functions in a fashion that would make my grandparents blush. We use horrifying language. It's the sort of disgusting living arrangement that can only occur after you've sworn to love each other despite all the things you're going to witness throughout your lifetime together.

It's incredibly romantic.

But even with all the raw, freakish openness that we share, there are still those things in life that I will not do while he's around.

-I walk the aisles of Target for hours.
-I eat cheese dip and chips in bed while watching girl movies.
-I try on all the dresses in my closet.
-I trim my cuticles.

It's not so much because I don't want him to see them, but because I cherish them. They're mine. My little idiosyncrasies that I hold on to because I am still an independent woman, regardless of my marital status.

I happen to be in a marriage with a man who travels quite a bit for a living. Ten months will go by without him traveling, then he'll be gone for six weeks. I certainly don't think it's an accident that I married a man whose heart leads him to travel around the country. He was born a nomad in a nomadic military family. He never stayed in one place as a kid. And now, as an adult, he gets antsy if he doesn't move around.

And then there's me. Living alone for those four years taught me how to do just that - live alone. I hated it at first. But after the first year or so I grew accustomed to it. I started to look forward to my solo nights in. I would cook myself junk food for dinner, watch brain-rotting TV, drink wine, do my nails. I would go to Borders and sit on the floor reading magazines on a Saturday night. I learned how to be with myself. I think it's a very important thing to be able to do in life.

So, here we are. The nomad and the loner, married and in love. I definitely don't always enjoy the fact that he's gone. After two days I start to feel homesick in my own home. Even the dog gets depressed when Matt's gone. But I survive it. I let my heart miss him, but I continue to live my life. We've struck a delicate balance within our marriage. We depend on each other, but we aren't dependent on each other. We lean on each other, but we aren't crutches that hold one another up. I wholeheartedly believe that successful spouses have to maintain some autonomy in their marriage, while still being a part of a team.

Marriage does not fix loneliness. It does not fix insecurities. It does not fix depression. I think in some ways it magnifies those things. You have to enter into your partnership with a happy heart or else it will fall apart from the inside out. I don't think a lot of people understand that. You have to be in love with you in order for someone else to be in love with you. It might sound cliche but it's very true. You have to own your strange single-person behaviors and be proud of them. You should enjoy those little slices of yourself and be proud of your independent ladiness.

Geez... what an essay. Who saw that coming?

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