Alex and I have been engaging in a very volatile practice known as “pre-marital counseling.” Prior to beginning, we had to fill out a very long list of questions about our communication style, family background, etc. Alex took a look at it then texted me:
“You’re going to have fun with some of these questions. LOL.”
I’d later realize he was referring to the ones about my family relationships and the way my parents relate to each other. It’s assumed we take this sort of baggage into our marriages, and this dictates the way we see our roles. In that case, this is how things should work out:
Me: Clean all the things! Cook all the things! Prostrate thyself at the feet of your husband!
Him: Turn the volume on the TV up, you can’t hear over the sound of that damn woman cooking your dinner!
I’d be remiss not to mention that part of Alex’s role would also involve cruising for random strangers in public parks, restroom stalls, and the far corner of parking lots.
Thankfully we don’t seem to be following my family’s Greek tragedy of a storyline. When we sat down—over drinks—for our first counseling session, the Pastor told me I was “one of the most independent people” he had ever known. I can see how he’d get this impression, and my own brother even told Alex that he better be ready to marry “a black feminist.” But the truth is that I completely lose my shite when Alex isn’t around. Not in an anxious way, but in an “I no longer have a reason to eat or bathe” sort of way. Let me prove it to you:
Evidence #1: Christmas 2013
Alex went out of town for four days. 48 hours into this separation, I sent him a text:
“I think I’m depressed or something. Except I don’t feel unhappy or upset about anything. Actually… I think I just really really need a shower.”
I did not, however, take this much-needed shower and when he finally returned my car had not moved an inch. I opened the door in a tattered cotton dress that had fit back in my early 20s but now hung from my shoulders like a plastic bag caught in the far limbs of a tree. My hair looked 6 inches shorter from the knots and curls plastering it to my unwashed scalp. I cracked the door an inch, squinting in disbelief as Zola and I stared at him with hungry eyes.
“I found a piece of freezer burned chicken in the back of the fridge and fed half of it to the dog and ate the rest. We’ve been out of food for a while so it’s a good thing you came back.”
Evidence #2: My Attempt to Run Errands
I left my house on a glorious Saturday. Normally, I make Alex drive everywhere so I can spend that time talking to you guys on Twitter and googling things. But today I was on my own and all I needed to do was buy batteries and pick up a gift card. To accommodate my neurosis, I plotted a route of right turns because I hate turning left.
Fifteen minutes after leaving the house, I found myself in a female emergency—adrift at sea without a tampon because I don’t know how to manage my life like a grown ass woman. I could see a CVS in the distance– but it required a left turn. I readied myself, made the turn, and almost plowed into the back of someone pulling out of a parking spot. Everything seemed suddenly very dangerous and I was unable to find a single decent parking spot until I ended up at a car mechanic next door. I sent Alex a text:
“I’m about to walk half a mile to buy a box of tampons and will likely be devoured by wolves before I get there.”
Against all odds, I managed to make it to the store and find a box of tampons. As soon as I got in line I realized I should go ahead and buy the batteries I needed, but a troupe of 21-year old females had crowded in behind me. A nearby display boasted a 16-pack of AAs for only $89.10, which was totally worth it to keep these female competitors from stealing my place.
No sooner had I stacked the batteries on my tampon box did I realize that for $89.10 I could buy 29 jars of Nutella or half a cardigan from Anthropologie. It wasn’t worth it. But now I didn’t know what to do with them. The nubile predators crowded in behind me, discussing the latest cover of US Weekly. My mind was awash with desperation.
If Alex were here, he’d save my place. But he’s not. I am alone. So alone. All alone.
I decided to rid myself of the batteries by flinging them into a bargain bin about three feet away that was full of brightly colored loofahs. It sailed through the air and immediately crashed to the bottom, causing the youngins to yelp in alarm, shaking their highlights and swishing their vibrant Nike shorts.
Ten minutes later I arrived at my next destination, knowing all I had to do was go inside and buy a $40 gift card. Instead, I sat in the parking lot for half an hour then sent Alex a text.
“Can I come over?”
Thankfully he said yes, otherwise I’d have been left alone with myself. And we all know what that leads to.
What happens when your life lacks structure? Do you have any hermit tendencies? Tell me about the last time you did something ridiculous in public.
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