My husband just finished a major project at his job and decided to take a few days off. He said he wanted to do what he wanted to do for a few days and not have any responsibilities. I love solitude and require lots of it, so I could totally relate.
On the first night of his stay-cation, he seemed restless. I am a planner and a fixer, so I asked him if he wanted to visit his best friend who lives out of state; he said no. I asked him if he wanted to take a solo road trip; he said no. I let it drop. The next day we went out to eat with friends, and he told them about his stay-cation and how I go on writing retreats and come back refreshed, so he thought maybe being alone for a while would help him feel refreshed.
I often wonder what it’s really like for a normal person to be married to a writer. Even the most extroverted writers are solitary people. We can go hours, days and, in some cases, months with little to no human contact. For the last few years, I’ve gone out-of-state on a four-day to two-week writers retreat while my husband stays home. When I’m writing at home, I tend to respond to my husband’s questions with grunts. He’s learned to distinguish my writing expression. He says I stare at my laptop with a crazed and obsessed look when I write. Now, when he sees that look, he asks, “Are you writing?” If I say, “Um hm,” without looking up, he makes himself scarce. When he leans in to kiss me good-bye, my eyes remain glued to the screen. I tilt my head ever so slightly in his direction and semi-pucker my lips. Sometimes he laughs and holds his lips just out of reach. I keep typing and semi-puckering, and he says, “You don’t even know I’m here, do you?”
“Um hm,” I say.
If he goes out, he’ll sometimes call hours later and ask, “Are you finished writing?” If I give an intelligible, “Yes,” he comes home. If I don’t, he asks for an estimated time of completion then he comes home when I’m better suited for human interaction.
It certainly must be lonely for him at times. He says he likes his alone time, but that’s somewhat of a lie. He occasionally likes his alone time. I usually like my alone time. In truth, he prefers wife-in-proximity alone time. He likes to sit on the sofa and read his Kindle while I’m reading my book. He likes to caress my feet or my leg. I need both my hands because I like to underline beautiful sentences. If he had his way, we’d be fully intertwined during the reading process. He likes to listen to music with me in the next room. He likes that when I take a break from reading or whatever I’m doing, I go to him and kiss him on the top of his head while he’s sitting in his chair. He likes to pull me close right before I leave the room and kiss my stomach or nuzzle my breasts. He likes to work on his car for a bit then come inside, talk to me for a while then return to his repairs. My husband thinks he is a solitary person, but he’s not. He’s a coupler.
Sure enough, after brunch that day, he went to do his own thing while I stayed home watching television. Within two hours, he returned.
“I went to get a massage,” he said. “I thought about going to the movies or something, but I missed you.”
I shake my head.
“What?” he asks, shyly.
“You’re so cute.”
“I can’t help it,” he says. “I like you.”