Saturday, February 23, 2008

Leave of Absence

the philosopher is a grad student. he's writing his dissertation.

the philosopher is depressed. he needs to finish. he needs to focus. there's no time for kittens. he needs to take a break.

the philosopher tried to leave me.

i think i dissuaded him.
i held on through his tears, a mythic heroine outlasting the shape shifter, holding him close through dragon and snake. enchantment is hard to defeat with a cell phone, but i can be stubborn and maybe i won.

maybe.

i'm an expert in grad students.

ex-hubby #1 was a grad student. Harvard. he began his dissertation. the trash filled with crumpled paper in those days before PCs and recycling. depression descended. it coated the walls as well as his soul. there was nothing left for me.

one day the cloud lifted. surprise! didn’t there used to be a wife around here somewhere?

i'd been busy. i'd made new friends. i'd been learning to laugh.

i don't like neglect.

we were very young.
he was a nice man.
we loved each other.
depression is hard.
it wasn't his fault.
but it was too late.

ex-hubby #2 had a girlfriend. the one before me.

this ex-hubby was also a grad student. he broke up with his old girlfriend after a while. he didn't have time for her. he figured he'd get back with her later. meanwhile he had me for amusement, tossing me bits of time and sex like peanuts to the elephant. i devoured them gratefully, figuring that's all i was worth. counting myself lucky.

dissertation done, he broke up with me to get back with old girlfriend.

she laughed in his face. me, i wasn't that bright and again, gratefully, devoured the left-over peanuts. for twenty years.

we were a little less young.
he was not a nice man.
i loved him.
and this time, the depression was mine.
i don't like neglect.
but i took it.
and when the prison door opened, the damage was done.

still, stupidly, i thought there might be another chance for me. or maybe at the very least i'd get laid. but i wasn't that stupid. i made a list.

no academicians.
no musicians.

one out of two isn't bad...

so now i've got another grad student.
(or should i say, he now has me.)

but this time i have experience. i know what i'm in for. and i know the prize is worth playing for. so i accept the new rules. i accept the silent phone. i accept the stagnant inbox that was created just for him. i try not to cry. i don't want to be a burden. i want him to finish.

and i want to prove that this time i can get it right.
i WILL get it right.
eventually, we'll be together again.
and like before, it will be amazing.

let's not talk ages.
he's a very nice man.
it seems we're bashert.
i try not to cry.
and together we'll make it through.

- - - - -

i fall asleep on the couch and awake to find Marko stretched out on my legs. asleep himself, he is warm and soft and trusting. i reach down, touch his greyness, stroke his adoration, and wish that right now i could be that for you. that right now i could curl into you, warm and soft and trusting. our bond would transcend your struggles, our sleep would lick away your pain. somehow your closeness would fill me with peace and security. and somehow, through a magic as improbable as our meeting, i would breathe it all back into you.

3 comments:

persephone said...

it gave me chills.

Lauren said...

It's interesting to see how you started out, even if it was a little over a year ago.

I've been jumping around your blog through many posts. I haven't been following them in any particular sequence, so excuse my ignorance :) I'm assuming that the philosopher is the same philosopher that you talk about in your more recent posts.

"and i want to prove that this time i can get it right.
i WILL get it right.
eventually, we'll be together again.
and like before, it will be amazing."

This bothers me a little bit. I'm not entirely sure why and I certainly don't mean that in a nasty way. It's just that it seems impossible for anyone to deal with depression (whether it's their own or another's) and not have it affect their life. I don't think there is a "getting it right." It is what it is and I sure hope you don't blame yourself for your past marriages ending. It's never a one way road. It seems as though depression either makes or breaks the relationship. And, if it works out, things are still going to be... different (I'm lacking a better term) and sometimes that's for the best.

But then again, I'm quite the pessimist. Maybe there is a 'getting it right' and I've just failed miserably at it :)

Anyway, I'll stop rambling and keep reading :)

oatmeal girl said...

Lauren, thank you so much for commenting, even over a year after the fact. For one thing, it gave me an excuse to read over that post, Marko once again nearby, this time lying on my foot and making little moaning sounds in his sleep.

You really are a pessimist, poor dear. Of course, depression affects things, but I would hate to think that people who suffer from it can't manage it like any other chronic illness and still find happiness. I know it does affect me - but I am treated for it, and except for those now only 2 really bad SAD months, it no longer paralyzes my life.

However, "Getting it right" didn't refer to loving through depression. It referred to managing to maintain a relationship through and beyond a beloved's grueling quest for the Holy Grail of a doctorate. It is understanding that this is not a "normal" period of life, and figuring out a way for me to give the scholar the needed space to work and mope while not losing connection yet still having a satisfactory life for myself.

Now there is still no telling whether the philosopher (yes, the one and only philosopher, sometimes referred to as John) will be able to handle a real relationship when he is done. That is a separate issue and one that we'll have to deal with after graduation. But I know he can't be whole until he either finishes or comes to terms with giving it up. One way or another, he needs to find out who he is before he can think about combining his life with someone else's whether in a big or small way.

Meanwhile, he seems to be honestly pleased that I have my highly sadistic (if occasionally very surprisingly kind) demon muse taking me in hand, enjoying me, training me, and disciplining me.

Thanks again for the comment. I'm looking forward to more of them.