I had a funny conversation with an acquaintance the other day. She asked me about my summer plans. Usually I smile and say “Oh, nothing in particular” or maybe “my sister is coming to visit in a couple of weeks”. But this time I told her the truth. “I’m going through my father’s papers and am writing a book about [awkward elevator speech redacted].” She was interested and then asked “Is your husband supportive of your project?” I stared at her. My husband is a writer. “Of course!” I said. Then added “Well, he supports the big project, but sometimes when I’d rather write than do something he wants to do, he is a little less supportive.” She smiled and said “That sounds like marriage.”
And it does. The Young Man also has grand plans and ambitions that I support in theory, but get tired of hearing about for the 28,000th time while I’m finishing up a work email. But then I began to think about the implications of what she said. Did she think that he would rather me be keeping the house clean (which I assure you I am not) instead of writing? Did she think he think I’m getting to uppity (I think he thinks that, but he seems to like me uppity)?
Having big projects can be hard on a relationship. You’re not as present. A little while back, Betsy Lerner (sorry, too lazy to look it up) wrote about being married to a writer and asked us (her loyal minions) what it was like. Commenters told stories of dirty laundry being dumped on them, children leaving their mothers gifts by the computer because they were always on the computer. And I think about the ways I’m not present in my relationship. Some of it is justifiable and some of it is not.
And so I took off a couple hours yesterday and was present. I haven’t been writing as much as I should, but my life is a waiter’s tray being carried across a busy restaurant, and in order for it to be balanced, something is always getting short shrift.
What/whom do you neglect?