Grab Bag

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my subconscious lately. There’s lots of time to spare, now that Tim’s back to work and my daughter is nearly full-time at her job. Freelance gigs come and go, but I have more quiet in my brain now. And I’m tugged in the direction of the edges of thought that surface.

Like just now, in the kitchen, I was struck by the difference between my husband and me. I was clearing away last night’s cooking mess, a pan I left soaking with baking soda and dish detergent. By this afternoon, the caramelized blueberry muffin overspill had melted back to liquid, and I sprayed it off with the faucet. My cleaning method is a gentle nudge, discouraging stains from staying permanently. I fill pots and pans with water and wait them out. It’s an effective strategy.


Tim, on the other hand, sees every thing he encounters as a battle to be won. Not people–just things. He attacks (his word) the dishes with vigor, setting every item gleaming and pristine into the dishwasher, where they will only become sanitized.  Pots and pans are scrubbed, SOS pads exhausted, and the clean and shining pile of pans displayed upside-down on the counter, twinkling as they dry. He faces his laundry with military precision, sorting colors and heat settings diligently, putting clothing right-side out and stacking them tidily on-deck, waiting to be washed. This is, to me, a little silly, because all of his clothes fit into the “beige/gray/bluish/greenish” category, and none run the risk of infecting the others with their bold color. But sort he does, and then washes in appropriate sequence, and then folds and puts away. By the time he’s done, he is exhausted.

That’s true for the dishes, too. Doing the same amount of dishes, he will emerge from the kitchen in need of a nap, or at least a good sit down, while I will have completed the dishes, dinner prep, putting away errant pantry items, and wiping down the counters. He’ll do one thing full-bore and do the hell out of it; I do six things kinda half-assed and meander through while I think about tomorrow’s dinner or making baby blankets or a plot consideration for a story in the works.

I admire my husband’s drive. I love how he can go in one direction persistently, and not be pulled off to the things that trace across his intellectual field of vision. In the middle of that last sentence, I remembered that I want to use the leftover buttermilk from the blueberry muffins to make cornbread to go with tonight’s chicken, so I looked up a homemade cornbread recipe.

That kind of interruption would drive Tim nuts. His method of focus would, for me, result in things that don’t get done. Today, even while I’m feeling like dogshit because of a respiratory infection, I’ve cleaned the kitchen, washed the sheets, cleaned the toilet and the sink, planned a potluck for the community garden and made flyers to advertise it, and planned tonight’s dinner. I should be sleeping, but because I’m going at half speed and doing multiple things at once, I got a few things done.

Tim and I are talking a lot about our neurological differences. It took him a long time to figure out my “grab bag” of a brain, but he did so without judgement. He recognizes my rambling ways as different from his; I see his task-oriented brain as different from mine. And this is the really beautiful thing about long-term relationships that work; we see each other’s quirks and oddities, shrug our shoulders and move along with our days. We’re compatible not because we’re alike, but because it doesn’t matter how we’re different, we still just want to be with each other.

We’re figuring it out, it appears. I can’t help but think of all those people–some friends, but mostly family–who told me I was making a huge mistake getting involved with Tim. He wasn’t right for me, I wasn’t right for him.  Like they knew.

Marriage is so much more than being “right” for each other at a given time and place. It’s more structural, more modular than I ever knew. Tim has the necessary structure for a long-term relationship. It’s just how he’s built; solid, over-engineered, every beam and board measured twice or more. And that’s how he thinks. I suspect the people who warned me off him didn’t really know him at all.

I will never be like Tim, even though sometimes I wish I could; the die on my personality is cast. But I respect his particular, peculiar makeup, and admire how he tolerates mine.

My subconscious wanted to say all that just now.


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