Thursday, July 28, 2011

Alone Time

My life has been lonely these days.  For financial reasons, I've had to take a job in another town from my wife and daughter, and that has brought up a whole host of issues that would probably benefit from some examination.  Let's dive in, shall we?

First up, laundry.  Now, in my family, my wife has done the laundry as a matter of course.  It's understood.  I of course will help out on the odd occasion, like loading the washer or shifting from the washer or dryer when she's at work.  But I would no more shoulder the laundry duties on an ongoing basis than she would, or instance, mow the lawn or blow the snow out of the sidewalks when I'm there and not having a stroke or heart attack at the moment.  We have a fairly traditional marriage and a fairly traditional division of duties, and while we're both willing to deviate from that as needed neither of us is often inclined to when it's unnecessary.

Unfortunately, it's now necessary.  My coworkers don't want to work with someone whose shirts were used 3 times since their last laundering, and a simple pants-splitting incident could become rather volatile if the pants-ripper happened to be going commando because he was too lazy to do the laundry.  So in the interest of keeping my private parts out of the public view as well as not earning a nickname like "wrinkle" or, worse, "pig pen", I've been doing my own laundry.  I'm actually kind of proud.  The lady at the laundromat knows my name and she's very patient when I have a question about how the machines work with different kinds of clothes.  I've watched her face carefully as I talk to her, and I don't think I've asked any truly stupid questions.  Yet, anyway.

Another thing I had forgotten from my bachelor days is how to shop properly for food.  And food has changed, especially in the produce department.  It was quite a shock the first time I shopped for groceries on my own.  Was anyone else aware that there is something called a "kiwi fruit" that looks a bit like camel dung?  And what the heck is "Arugula", anyway?  I know some have castigated president Obama for complaining about the price of it, but it looks sort of like weeds to me.  I've sort of fallen back on the old standbys from my bachelor days.  Macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, apples, canned stuff and the odd bag of grapes or frozen dinner.  Bon appetit.

It's lonely here, though.  I have to find ways to pass the time between getting home from work and going to bed.  My wife and daughter are in another town and, while I know people in this town, there is a big hole in my heart as I try to adjust to this new existence.  My daughter, soon to be three, asks and then demands that Mommy bring her to me, and it's hard to make her understand that this is just the way it is for now.  In the past, I have wished that I could escape my wife and daughter for awhile.  Such things are necessary after men need our "cave time".  But now I would give anything to have my "cave time" reduced to two days a week instead of five.

Men like me are not intended to live alone.  We need our womenfolk.  To do our laundry and to cook our meals and to shop for us and to give us the other things we need...but also to let us fix their car and mow their lawn and clean up their basement and get the chainsaw out to cut up the tree that fell down in the last storm.  My life partner and I are separated, and I know it has to be this way at least for a little while.  But it kind of hurts.  You know?