Monday, July 21, 2008

Seventh Neighbor

With a few, notable exceptions, our building is like a ghost tower. People don't speak to each other and barely make any noise at all. I always thought it was strange how rare it is to actually run into someone in the lift or in the corridors. Being claustrophobic, riding in the lift is a daily trauma and being alone in the lift makes it even worse. On occasion I have tried hanging around a bit to see if someone else will come along and take the lift with me. No such luck. You'd think they hide behind their doors waiting until the corridor is absolutely deathly quiet before coming out. Eventually I gave up and resigned myself to daily solitary confinement in the lift.

Needless to say, people aren't friendly. When they do run into each other, they tend not to acknowledge each other's presence. Most of them will avoid even making eye contact if you let them, as if to recognize the presence of another human being would be some unforgiveable faux pas. When in the mood, I used to enjoy making exaggerated friendly overtures just to see what they'd do.

This is the kind of building where people immediately complain about noise if your TV or music is on too loud. Have never lived in one of those before so you can imagine some of the adjustment issues an insomniac like me would have had.

The places where I lived with my parents growing up were so different. My mother says that's because we were a big family and so we always lived around other big families and people who have lots of kids can't help being lively and noisy and friendly - since the kids play together and bring the adults together. Could be. What I know for sure is I liked having real neighbors a lot more than this.

It was much less of a bother when my husband was here. Now the silence grates on my nerves so much. Living alone is in itself a new and difficult experience for me. I wish I had lively, friendly noisy neighbors. It might have made being at home so much easier.

But lo and behold, I found out a couple of months ago- quite accidentally - that a business acquaintance lives in my building - 3 floors above us. When he promised to introduce me to his wife and kids, I was optimistic. The idea of finally having friends in the building was uplifting.

He has since introduced me to his wife - who wasn't terribly friendly. I got a strong feeling that she is rarely friendly when her husband introduces her to other women.

And so the first instinct was to avoid them. I didn't need that sort of hassle. And so I was careful to refuse all invitations to visit for any reason.

Yesterday evening I was doing some packing. I ran out of boxes so I went downstairs to get more from the grocery store. Normally, they would send one of the delivery boys to help me carry heavy stuff. But yesterday none of the boys were available so I had to fend for myself.

On my way back struggling with all the boxes, I ran into the husband. He offered to help me carry the boxes to my apartment. I tried to refuse but he was so insistent and I couldn't think of a polite way to keep saying no. So I let him help me into the lobby of the building. As soon as I stepped in, I asked the security guards to help us. So that was resolvevd.

A few minutes after I closed the door behind the security guard, my doorbell rang. My friendly neighbor had sent their maid to help me with my packing. I got really irritated. I mean, can't he take a hint? I didn't want anything to do with him - or his wife - outside the office.

However, again how could I refuse without being openly rude? So I let the maid in. And as we worked together packing, she would insist on regaling me with details about their life that I really didn't want to hear. Eventually, I was forced to avoid the room she was in. Nothing like being restricted within your own home by a complete stranger.

Needless to say, I cut the visit down to half an hour, then I gave the maid some money and sent her away. Good manners dictated that I had to say thank you. So I forced myself to call the wife.

It was the most bizzare conversation ever. She asked me when exactly I was moving. I told her I hoped in a couple of months but wasn't sure yet. Then she asked me how long I've been divorced!

I was so shocked I found myself blurting out some garbled explanation of my situation before I could stop myself. Then I wanted to kick myself for giving her the satisfaction. It was so clear she didn't believe me! She clearly thought I was some man-eating, Morrocan divorcee.

And once I got that part, I really regretted having allowed her to question my personal life in anyway. It was none of her business whether I was divorced or otherwise.

In the end, I tried to end the call by thanking her for the loan of the maid and saying I had to go. And she said something that made it clear she believed I had asked her husband to send the maid. She probably thought I staged the whole thing for her husband's benefit!

I got so angry I couldn't help letting her have a piece of mind, thereby severing any budding neighborly ties and probably making for a difficult working relationship with her husband later on into the bargain. Exactly what I was hoping to avoid. The difficult working relationship, that is.

Afterwards, I couldn't calm down for ages. And then I had to speak to my husband. I didn't tell him what happened of course. But I really needed to hear his voice.

Felt a bit better after speaking to him - although he probably didn't. He could tell I was angry and I guess when I wouldn't explain, he thought I was mad at him again. I tried reminding him that when I AM mad at him, I rarely keep it to myself but he kept asking what's wrong.

It was a struggle to keep things from taking a turn for the worse with him. But I managed. Why is it so hard for him to understand that all I need sometimes is to hear his voice?

Late at night, I had a bad dream and woke up. Probably all the anxiety about having upset him. So I called him just to say that I loved him very much and I was most definitely not angry with him but might quite possibly become EXTREMELY angry with him if he insisted on accusing me of being angry with him!

At least it made him laugh which was cool. But then of course he was like a dog with a bone. What happened? What upset you like this? Why don't you want to say?

In the end, I had to plead sleepiness to escape the interrogation. We hung up. And I got up, got dressed and went out for a drive.

I actually stayed on the road until it was time to get ready for work, stopping only to get coffee from gas stations a couple of times.

My first late night out in a while. But I guess since it wasn't in a club, it should be okay with him.

Who am I kidding? You still wouldn't like it. If anything, you'd probably hate it even more.

And just thinking about how much I wish you were here to give me a hard time about late-night drives or about anything, anything at all is making me feel like I can't breathe.

I really don't know why I bother to blog anymore. Doesn't seem to matter what I start out talking about, in the end I always end up saying the same thing.

Which is actually an accurate reflection of my life at the moment. I have a disturbing experince and for a while, I am so upset by it that it provides a distraction. But the reaction fades away in a few hours. And then what is left?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Love is Blind

I go off birth control. I don't tell him. I want to get pregnant even though I know it's not what he wants. And it doesn't work. Instead, I find myself in hospital with a really bad case of PMS.

I am disappointed and terrified that something is wrong with me and I'll never be a mother . I get angry at him for some reason. I shut him out, choose not to tell him I'm sick. I let him find out in an angry phone call from my parents who will always think he should be taking better care of me.

So what does he do? He is sweet and polite to my parents, completely charming them.

Then when we talk and the whole thing comes out, he tries to understand my pov. And barring that one phone conversation, he never brings up the issue again.

He doesn't ask me if I'm on anything right now. And he doesn't take precautions either. We never discuss birth control anymore.

I don't know what that means really.

Then I turn to retail therapy, max out my credit cards and get into debt. Serious Debt. Everyone tells me I'm being irresponsible. I tell me I'm being irresponsible.

And I don't tell him until things are pretty much out of control. He doesn't tell me that this is a bad time, that he's out of work etc....He doesn't say very much really. Just goes away for a couple of days and comes back to tell me that if we settle everything now, we'll save on interest and finance charges so we might as well. And so he does.

No lectures. No recriminations. Doesn't even ask me not to do it again. Doesn't seem to be at all worried I'll do it again. Still trusts me with everything he owns.

Of course, I won't do it again. I have learnt my lesson. Besides, shopping now means more stuff to pack and dispose of which is not tempting at all.

Only I never said that to him. And he never seemed to need me to.

Then I turn into this crazy party girl, out on the town every night til all hours. And again, he is the last to know. This time he does get angry. And he does ask me to stop.

But he doesn't think any worse of me for it. I don't see the value of that, until it is brought to my attention, that an awful lot of people do think the worst of me because of it, that there's been a lot of gossiping and talking behind by back.

Close friends are asking me if I want to ruin my marriage, do I know what my husband would think if he could hear all this stuff, that no man would put up with it, that he couldn't possibly still trust me etc....

So I tell him what I've been hearing. I decide I don't want it hanging over my head.

His only comment is to ask me for the names of the guys who have been talking about me. I ask him if he thinks I'm stupid. And the whole thing turns into a joke, with him trying to trip me up in conversation and get the names from me etc...and me saying how juvenile I think he's being etc....

Finally he comes out to see me - after months of being apart and me nagging at him to come and see me. And instead of jumping and screaming for joy and giving him a proper welcome like any sane wife would, I stare at him like an idiot and then fall asleep on him.

And he is not disappointed. It's almost freaky. Like he was expecting my reactions. Like he was with me the whole time, like he knew exactly what I'd been going through before he came.

Is love blind? Is that why even though he knows that I keep things from him, he never fails to believe me when I need him to, when I am telling it all? Is it why, when I can't think of excuses for myself, I find that he can? Is it why, seeing the worst of me, he keeps on believing the best of me? Is it why - when he and I have what everyone agrees are the worst communication patterns ever and don't talk nearly as much as we should about everything we should, leaving far too many things unsaid -we are still so close?

Is ours a relationship built on self-delusion? Is that what love ultimately is? Self-delusion?


Monday, July 07, 2008

Not So Bad

Tuesday 1/7/2008, dinner, sometime after 10:00pm:

Me : I thought you were going to cook for me.
Him: oh no, that's not what I said. I said I would feed you. You're not disappointed are you?
Me : Disappointed? 7abibi la tab3an! This is perfect. This place you know how much I love it.
Him: I remember.
Me : And I get to dress up for you.
Him: Yeah I noticed.
Me : And?
Him: And what?
Me : What's the verdict?
Him: You look lovely. Ana asif. You shouldn't have had to ask that.

He sounds really embarrassed and crestfallen - which makes me smile. He's so cute sometimes, like a little boy who really made an effort and would be crushed if you tell him he didn't get it absolutely right.

Me : It's ok. Thank you for bringing me.
Him: Yeah and who knows? I might even ask you to dance later.

He says that but he's hoping he won't have to. He hates dancing really.

Him: Why are you smiling?
Me : You like to dance about as much as you like to cook.
Him: I'll do both - if you want me to.
Me : You would?
Him: Just say the word.
Me : When?
Him: We can dance right now. I guess I can make you breakfast in the morning.
Me : Would love to dance with you. But I'll make you breakfast in the morning. I miss that so much.
Him: Please don't cry.
Me : It's ok. I won't. I'm really happy. Thank you for coming to see me.
Him: See? I'm not so bad.
Me : You're not bad at all.

You're the best. Should have said.


Friday, July 04, 2008


Was not a happy camper when I got up for work last Monday. So exhausted. Had had about 2 hrs of sleep. But I'd already missed Sunday because of the on-going attack of insomnia. Couldn't call in sick again.

To make matters worse, I'd fallen asleep on the smaller couch in the living room. We have a two-seater and a three-seater and I'd picked the two-seater to sleep on. Not comfortable for someone of my height. So I had all sorts of muscle cramps and a splitting headache to go with the sleep-deprivation.

But I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower all the same. The water helped a bit. Got dressed for work. Actually had the door open. But something made me decide I wanted to be late. I convinced myself a cup of strong coffee and two cigarettes would clear my head and make me a safer driver than I usually am in the mornings.

So there I was standing in the kitchen about to pour out the coffee when I heard the key turning in the front door. I just froze still holding the container of hot coffee out of the coffee maker over my mug. I'd given the spare key to my friend who was staying with me a while back but I distinctly remembered her returning it. And the only other person who had a key was supposed to be in Sweden.

But he wasn't in Sweden. I stood there as the door opened and I heard him come in. I didn't move when I heard the door close behind him. It was so surreal. I remember wondering if I was really awake yet or if all of this was happening in a dream. God knows I'd had enough of those dreams.

Then he was standing infront of me, taking the coffee container out of my hand and setting it down. Then taking me in his arms and just holding me, squeezing so hard it hurt.

I guess he sensed the unnatural stillness because the hug ended abruptly. Instead I felt his hands in my hair, pushing it out of my face and tilting my face up to him, the way he always does when he isn't sure what I'm thinking or is about to ask me questions he thinks I might not want to answer.

He asked if I was ok. All I could do was ask him why he didn't tell me. My voice sounded funny. I sounded like I had something in stuck in my throat.

He said he wasn't sure until the last minute that he could make it, and didn't want to tell me and then have to cancel. I asked if he couldn't have called me before he got on the plane. He said I would have been asleep. I said no I wouldn't have. He said well I didn't want to wake you if you were.

And he started talking, telling me when the idea came up, how he made all the arrangements sounding really pleased with himself. And at some point, I tuned it all out. Was just watching. I was so starved for that, for just looking at him.

At some point he realized I wasn't listening. He went silent for a second then said let me take you inside. I nodded my head. He leaned down and picked me up off the floor. I had the stupid thought he must really be here because I'm being carried around. No one else has carried me around since I was about 7 or 8.

The funny thing is, once we were in bed, sleep - which had completely eluded me for days before - suddenly descended on me. I literally couldn't keep my eyes open. I started crying in his arms because I so desperately wanted to sleep but just as desperately wanted him. He was saying it was ok, that he will stay with me, that we had time. I wanted to ask how much time but I fell asleep before I could.

I slept for almost 5 hours and woke up still in his arms.

He left this afternoon. We didn't have nearly enough time for everything I wanted to do with him.

And after those first 5 hours, I didn't sleep at all. 4 days. Not even when he slept.

So right now I'm back on the couch - the bigger one this time. Not yet ready to face the bed now that he's gone. I have sand inside both lids. Here's hoping I crash for a long, long time.

Labels: ,