It’s my 40th birthday. This morning I woke up in a hospital bed in a hotel in California’s wine country. The hospital bed was crucial to the trip, so that Rob and I could get some sleep. But of course there is something extremely messed up about spending your 40th birthday in a hotel with your husband in separate beds. Especially when your bed has rails.
I asked Rob to bring me to Calistoga for my birthday because the wine country might be the longest love affair I have ever had. The first time I came here was November 4, 2000. My 22nd birthday. I knew nothing about wine, except that I greatly enjoyed it, and so my boyfriend at the time and I went to all the places we had heard of (meaning all of the places that sold cheap wine in Madison, Wisconsin.) We had an amazing time. This is my happy place.
The first time Rob and I traveled here together was in 2005, Read More>
Last week I wrote about being sad, and I got some great responses from people who could empathize and sympathize. My favorites were the people who assured me that their kids are diabolical candy sneaks, which absolutely made me feel better because it’s nice to know that some things are near universal. So today I thought I would write about something else that is pretty universal, and that is the difficulty of being married to another human person. Rob and I have all the normal arguments that you might expect from a couple who has been together for 11 years. But we also have the arguments that stem from ALS and the way that it has thoroughly changed our dynamic.
Take teeth brushing for example. This simple act can start a war in our house. I want Rob to understand that the backs of my teeth need to be brushed. He claims he does understand that, and insists that he brushed them. But he didn’t. And so here we are, me not wanting my teeth brushed by someone else, him not wanting to brush someone else’s teeth. And both of us annoyed with each other, because yet again it didn’t go well. I can see his point. He is not the kind of person who enjoys being criticized when he’s trying to help. Is anyone that kind of person? I still want clean teeth. We are at an impasse, and so we begin hurling our strongest ammunition, going in for the kill.
Rob calls me a Dementor, the soul sucking happiness destroyers from the Harry Potter series. I give him points for creativity, but I am sort of extra annoyed because he knows that I consider myself more of a Professor McGonagall type. Read More>
I remember the day I met you, suddenly standing in the entrance to my office, wearing a suit and seeming somehow gorgeous and accessible at the same time. I remember the first time we talked on the phone, a conversation I cooked up just to hear your voice. How you used to drop the names of authors, how I used to feel so sure. You were like a magnet, like flypaper. Get away? I couldn’t even look away.
And then it was all airplanes and dinners and borrowing your sweaters and learning about wine, and trying to cook things to impress you. I had a chunky blue iMac which I used as a stereo, and I slept on a futon, but at least I had my own place. I was 26, trying to be a grown-up. You were 38, you were definitely a grown-up. You lived in an apartment with two bathrooms, the definition of success in Manhattan. You took me to shows, to tennis tournaments, to a B&B on the Jersey shore, even though you hate B&Bs, too much floral decor, way too much socializing. You met my family and danced with me at a wedding. I wore a black dress and we looked out of the floor-to-ceiling windows and you told me you loved me.
We went to France, and England, where I met your family and ate parsnips. I learned how to cook, something besides Trader Joe’s couscous and salmon in parchment paper. I was content, and I learned that when you were quiet or agitated, a large Starbucks cookie–preferably with M&Ms–would do the trick. (You claimed not to have a sweet tooth, but I still know what happens when ice cream is left in the house.) You tried to buy me shoes, but I was too proud. You bought me everything else instead. We went to Costa Rica, rode bikes through a little town, ate plaintains and drank cold beers on the beach. We played backgammon in a tree house until it was too dark to see. And I was still so sure. Read More>