In somewhat happy news during this time of grief is that Steven and I plan to live together next year. I say “somewhat” happy because the truth is I’m afraid. This will be the third big commitment I’ve made. Part of it is that I’m nervous about all the little details that go along with getting used to living with another person. For one, I’m concerned about how he’ll react to my desire to live a clean, green lifestyle. All of my household cleaning products, health and beauty supplies, foods, etc., are organic and chemical-free. I don’t like scented candles, which he loves, because I believe they’re toxic. My water is always filtered. Plastic containers are a no-no, unless BPA-free, and even then, I’m suspicious. Even aluminum foil freaks me out.
Rarely do I talk about my opinion on this topic, because most people I know outside of work don’t share the same opinion, and I don’t want to push my views on others or seem crazy. Therefore, Steven doesn’t know how strongly I feel about this subject. But this viewpoint I have is one reason why I work in a locally-owned organic grocery store, and it’s why most of the customers shop there. Some scientists may disagree for whatever reason, possibly because they’re industry-backed, while others believe what the industry-backed scientists say. But plenty of other scientists confirm that these kinds of pollutants in our atmosphere are not good and possibly cancer-causing or at least cancer-contributing. My boyfriend doesn’t study this particular topic, and he is a scientist, and therefore he’ll want lots of legit research from legit journals proving that all of these pollutants are in fact pollutants before he’ll agree to using lemon juice and baking soda for cleaning supplies.
Another fear I have is that I require a lot of “me time.” I’m not as worried about this particular one because he also seems to like alone time, and he goes out of town every other weekend to see his kids. Plus, with my job’s odd hours, I get quality time alone during the week. However, I suspect that there will be times that I just don’t get the time alone that I want. That’s just how it is when you’re extremely introverted and you’re in a committed relationship, living with someone else.
I guess I’m also concerned that we’ll get too caught up in each other and not get out more. Neither of us wants to get out much, but we both know it would be healthy for us to try to have friends. This could be resolved through more involvement in the church, which will happen in time.
My biggest fear is that if I do nothing better with my life monetarily he’ll leave me. I’m afraid that he will get tired of my inability to provide a bigger income to help with expenses. I love my job, but I can make more money somewhere else. If I go somewhere else, I may be miserable. I never want to go back to my old lifestyle of commuting an hour each way to work, sitting at a desk all day, staring at spreadsheets, sitting in meetings, hacking my brain for ways to sell more. Sell, sell, sell! Buy more junk you don’t need! Work harder so that you can get a bigger house, better car, more debt! Borrow more money for an education that will get you nothing (I wrote ads for a for-profit, online university, after having gotten a master’s degree from a university’s online program)!
I don’t think Steven would ever expect me to go back into that lifestyle, but I know how I was with my ex-husband. I felt that he could be making more money, and that he wasn’t contributing enough to the relationship as a result. So I’m afraid Steven will leave me, and I’ve already decided if he does, I’ll move to another country and live in a tent. Maybe I’ll hike the Appalachian trail. Maybe I’ll go to India or Tunisia or Peru.
But Steven is not me (or the old me, really), thank God. He knows money isn’t the solution, the way I used to think financial freedom was real freedom. I must have faith that we’ll have a good life–or really just that we have a good life today, because there are no guarantees in life. I must remember to take it one day at a time, and know that we’re happy today, in spite of life’s difficulties. There’s no one I’d rather share this journey with.
Letting doubt creep into it isn’t helpful. My therapist reminded me that I can get a nine-to-five job, maybe in a clinic or even at the hospice, so that he and I have the same hours, and that I can do more around the house, and in that way I’d be contributing to the relationship. Plus I don’t have to live an expensive lifestyle. And who knows? Maybe I’ll find some amazing career out of all of this. Maybe I could still find a job teaching literature or even just English comp or English as a second language. You just never know what’s around the corner.
This song often comes on at work, and I find solace in it sometimes when I’m feeling down. I will say that when he sings, “Tell me what there is to complain about,” I want to reply, “I guess your mom hasn’t died yet.” While it’s hard for me to imagine being happy without my mother in the world, at the same time, death is a part of life, and life must go on. If we live long enough, all of us will experience the death of a loved one, and we really just have to look at it as an opportunity to grow. In the meantime, let’s appreciate the moments, such as this one for me, of beauty and joy, that pop up here and there, and try to create more of those moments.