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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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When the Moon Hits Your Eye

Our family had cause to celebrate the other night, so we loaded the kids in the van and headed out to a new restaurant I'd been wanting to check out. Within moments of arriving, it was clear that Patrick was less than thrilled about the place. It was crowded and busy when we got there, the service was cafeteria-style and rushed, the menu was expensive, and they were out of the steak I thought might win him over in spite of all that. Customers were swarming for tables, pouncing the second any of us rose up to fetch a fork or a cup of water.

Beyond the obvious irritants, there was a kind of hive atmosphere, because this is a small town, and the place has been getting lots of buzz. My husband is particularly resistant to social buzz. I could tell it was grating on him like the noise of florescent lights.

Me, I was excitedly flitting around. I love buzz. I thought it felt festive. The nine dollar glass of wine helped.

The restaurant's specialty is wood-fired pizza, served up in a style I would call "rustic," and my husband calls "sloppy." We ordered three, and when they arrived, with their toppings in a more or less virgin state (slices of cheese instead of shredded, fresh baby spinach instead of cooked), mine was the only smile that stayed right side up.

We left with most of it in boxes, and have been fighting about it every time it comes up since, which is a lot, because, you know, the buzz.

"That place is awful," he says, "sloppily prepared food and no service masquerading as philosophy."

"It's trying to do something different and creative," I argue back. "Just because the pizza's not to your taste, you shouldn't tear it down. Just because it's not how you were raised to understand pizza should be, doesn't make it bad pizza. You should support the pizza just for trying. " (Yes, dear reader, it's possible one of us is talking about more than pizza.)

"Pretentious," he declares. "Inflated."

"Small-minded," I charge. "Judgemental."

The negative side of being even a little bit hip to psychology, which we are, is that you can spin any conflict into evidence of your opponent's unconscious "issues."

Clearly, I told Patrick just yesterday when another couple suggested the restaurant for a get-together, he is threatened by the pizza's success. And I said it with a nearly straight face.

Why is it so hard to let people be who they are when that happens to be different from who we are? Being judged hurts. I know that. But there I go, anyway, judging.

A few weeks ago, we had our first fight over the new house. Patrick has given me more or less free rein with the remodel and decorating from the get-go. In return, where he expressed a preference for this or that, I was gracious about it and trusted his input. No regrets: he gets the credit for the fabulous turquoise above the pink bathroom tile, and his last minute executive decision to paint his office the same soft blue as our bedroom turned out to be serene like he hoped, and not sleepy like I feared. Then he moved his desk in front of one of the two pairs of windows and decided he had to shade them in order to work at his computer. Which is all the time.

Sunlight to me is like oxygen. The idea that half the windows in that room, in the center of the house, would be permanently shaded, made me crazy. Worse, I knew I didn't have a leg to stand on: he's the one who has to work there, he's the majority breadwinner, the desk is much better in that position, and he let me have my way in virtually everything else. All I could do was sulk. And glower.

Which I did everytime I passed through for the next two days, thinking, go ahead, take a happy, bright space and make it a sad and dark space. LIKE YOUR SOUL.

I really did.

Because natural light is important to me, and if it's not as important to you, then you must be wrong. And maybe bad. And most likely a fascist.

And if you don't like your very expensive pizza flung down in front of you with all the toppings scattered unevenly and the edges a little charred from the wood fire, if you don't find that charming, if you don't GET THAT, you must not get me.

I've been accusing Patrick of taking something as a personal offense that merely happens to not to be to his taste.

The really negative part of being even a little bit hip to psychology is that you can't get away with that shit.

What's wonderful about staying undivorced through minor and major differences of opinion, through each other's big and little fuck-ups for ten-plus years is the gradual acceptance that the person you married is really, terribly flawed, and that, by now, they probably suspect the same thing about you, and that there isn't another human being you can hang out with, day in and day out, for over a decade, and not come to the same inescapable realization.

You can find your soulmate sight unseen three thousand miles away, he can pursue you up and down the length of a continent, promise you the moon and bring it to you. You can get on a bus one morning and leave everything you ever knew behind to ride off into happily ever after and never look back, and one day, I promise, you will find yourself leaving a restaurant with that very person, wondering what in the world you are doing with someone so obviously wrong for you in every way. And in the same instant, in a one-two punch to your consciousness, you will realize that they have sometimes wondered the same thing, and you will know that you are loved, as pouty and judge-y and broken as you are.

And that is amore.



Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

Candid. Funny. Poignant. Insightful.

Another grand slam.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

...though I must admit, Patrick's taste in pizza is very much like my own.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Elle said...

I love this post - you wrote my heart and experience of the last week. Thanks.

11:36 AM  
Blogger TC said...

I'm even worse than you about natural light...I threw a fit and pouted for WEEKS (oh, OK, I'm STILL pissed about it two years later) when my husband insisted on putting screens in our office windows to stop the bugs from coming in all the time. Feh. He just DOESN'T UNDERSTAND that now it doesn't look REAL when you look out those windows! There are little teensy tiny BARS and everything looks FUZZY and the air isn't coming in unIMPEDED and...

Yeah, I know. I don't have a leg to stand on. But it still upsets me.

1:04 PM  
Blogger merlotmom said...

Your last paragraph, my sentiments exactly, only you said them first, and better.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Without a doubt you should have taken Greta while Pat and I sat at home with takeout Pizza Hut.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Schriftstellar said...

I'm very tempted to incorporate those last two paragraphs into the wedding vows my partner and I will be taking three months from now...thanks for reminding me what I'm signing on for, and why I'm still so eager to do it.

(Incidentally, we have the same argument: I'm a cave-dweller---a vitamin-D deficient fascist of a cave-dweller, apparently---and she lives for sunlight. We can both empathize with your glowering.)

6:19 PM  
Blogger Ellen-Mary said...

Great post. I think that realization is the foundation of long marriages. There are many things about my husband that I've chosen to find 'charming' over the years. And there's a look he gives me and I know he's deciding to stay married to this flake. We even say, on occasion, "I love you anyway."

Acceptance is huge and it's a two way street.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Valerie-in-mid-life said...

Once again Kyran you so eloquently express what I feel. I have a theory that whatever it is that most attracts one to another in the beginning of a relationship, is the thing that drives us the craziest as the years go by. Case in point - Me, Little Miss Clutter, was charmed by how he organized the cassettes on my bookshelf the first time he was at my place.

10:27 PM  
Blogger beth♥ said...

I love this post ... especially that last paragraph.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Pyron said...

In reading the comments above, I realize what I wanted to say is going to be repetitive ... but I guess it bears repeating. You have an uncanny knack of being able to express my exact feelings at just the right time. Thanks for being so brave, and honest and such a great writer!

9:07 AM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

sublime. Thanks for the smiles.

12:08 PM  
Blogger The Other Laura said...

This post was EXACTLY what I needed to read today after one of those misunderstandings with my own hubby last night.


5:10 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Your ability to make me both sympathic with your perspective while I also think, "Hell, yeah, Patrick! How do you put up with it?!" is really remarkable. You're a very fine writer.

Still, I'm all for a less pretentious pizza.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Ha. I think it is fair to say we totally deserve each other. ;-)

Thanks for the deposit in my moral support bank. I'm saving up for rainy days.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

'What's wonderful about staying undivorced through minor and major differences of opinion, through each other's big and little fuck-ups for ten-plus years is the gradual acceptance that the person you married is really, terribly flawed, and that, by now, they probably suspect the same thing about you, and that there isn't another human being you can hang out with, day in and day out, for over a decade, and not come to the same inescapable realization.'

DUDE. I could have written these exact same words. EXACT SAME. Which is to say - YES. SO TRUE.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Kaza said...

Awesome post. I'm with ya on the need for natural light and the appreciation for woodfired pizza.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Mama Goose said...

This is briliant Kyran. I needed a reminder that I, too, am really, terribly flawed.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that so many stop to write that your words are, "my sentiments exactly, only you said them first, and better," or some slight variation on the idea say so much about your gift. Your ability to trace the threads common to us all through the tapestry, without losing the very real details of the mundane, everyday picture creates a space where your readers (myself very much included) feel known. So many stop and tell you, and countless others have not yet found the words. Your blog is brilliant, lovely, and so very real.

8:14 PM  

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