I’m writing you from a wonderful yoga retreat in the mountains. The weather is beautiful, the women lovely, and the yoga inspiring. The thoughtful instructors have even arranged for me to get low-sodium meals so I’ll have nothing to worry about.
I could say this is a break for me, but really it’s a reprieve for J. You see, I’m always home. The poor woman doesn’t get a break from me, and she deserves it since I’m high maintenance. I’d blame my medical issues but I know it’s a broader personality trait.
J. encouraged me to move my office to our basement in 2008. I’d be able to work less, and she guaranteed a better lease. There’s a separate entrance so even if J. were occasionally home during work hours, she’d still have privacy upstairs. My health was fairly stable back then, but I needed to slow my pace and knew it would be easier if clients came to me. So they did. They loved the new arrangement: I tried to create a welcoming space and parking was a breeze. I worried I’d be terribly isolated working alone, but the human contact with clients did the trick. I have had no regrets, and J. has been incredibly supportive.
So even before I stopped working, I was always home. Since my work has slowed to a snail’s pace, I am still home but without the distraction of clients. Reporting on my day often includes a rundown of my interaction with the grocery cashier or the friendly neighbourhood librarian. I imagine it feels something like a couple’s adjustment to staggered retirements. When I have the energy, I go out earlier in the day but I’m usually on the couch by late afternoon. By the time J. gets home, I crave details about her life in the real world, including a play-by-play of her workday. (I have to live vicariously.) She can count on time to herself on Sunday mornings when I attend my favourite yoga teacher’s class, or during occasional coffee jaunts with friends, but that’s about it.
When I go away without her, which happens rarely, J. loves having the place to herself. She becomes a hermit, shamelessly feasting on organic KD, potato chips, and other high-sodium foods. She watches Hockey Night in Canada all night, even if she doesn’t like the teams. She enjoys the quiet and the tidiness–I’ve often been likened to Pig Pen–and couch time with the dog. (GET OFF THE COUCH, PEANUT!)
But, bless her soul, J. always tells me she misses me and that she looks forward to my return. She describes her walk with the dog or the novel she’s reading, or she tells me that the high-sodium meals she had planned for herself weren’t nearly as good as she imagined they’d be. I would understand if she didn’t really miss me at all; she deserves the alone time.
Maybe I should go away more often so I’d have more interesting stories to share with J. when I got home. I imagine the rundown of my grocery store visit isn’t so inspiring sometimes.