My spouse rolled home around 10:00 o'clock this past Sunday morning, her rope-burns on her neck, her pupils as dilated as a harvest moon just risen above the horizon, following a long night of debauchery, first at 5ive, then Darkrave, where she'd spent the wee hours tripping the light fantastic wearing not much more than rope and electric tape.
The previous evening, I had joined her at a party, during which - admittedly a little the worse for wear - she loudly informed all and sundry that my cooking is "mediocre", a statement that led me to a half-hour of one-syllable grunts and subsequent attempts to assuage my ego's bruises by taking advantage of her (slightly) more inebriated state on the way home, finding - indeed, leading her into - contradictions and confusion, then making merciless fun of same during the walk from Brock to Roncesvalles. I also proclaimed I would not be cooking or shopping for her any more (as I have been since she moved in), telling her to she would have to get her own food from now on. (I have since recanted, somewhat - from here on in I cook what I want; she's welcome to share if she so desires.)
Nevertheless, we fucked each other silly when we went to bed (I think - things are a little hazy nearly four days down the line) before we passed out and I thought I would deal wth the hurt without much difficulty.
Saturday morning, however, was not so kind as I had imagined it would be on Friday night.
I spent most of Saturday in yet another monosyllabic funk, not even bothering to eat until after Laura went out to party (though we did manage at least to share a half-hour of physical intimacy - "I don't want you going out dancing un-fucked," quoth I at my most romantic), at which point I gorged on the marvellous veal parmagiana as provided by Amico's, then spent a quiet evening distracting myself with hockey, deleting "favourites" from my myspace account and watching yet another SCTV DVD before passing into an uneasy sleep, vaguely hoping Laura would come in to awake me before I awoke myself.
As it turned out, the cats did it at around 6:00 (though I drowsed through Chet's amazingly persistent door-shaking routine for an hour or so before I roused myself for good.
I'd had some coffee (though no breakfast - again) and thought I was over my sulk when she came home. I was just happy to see her, or so I thought.
We talked briefly, then Laura found her way to bed, while I distracted myself with such domestic necessities as laundry (four loads, god help me). Around noon, she got a call to go in to work, which would have been okay (to me), had she not returned home around 7:00 - three or four hours later than I had thought she would. She'd been hanging out with some of her co-workers, but that knowledge didn't stop my neuroses from taking centre-stage.
Truth is, my intellect and emotions don't always agree with each other. Worse - though I am a man who reacts extremely well in a crisis - I don't deal well with low-grade stress.
The stress? Domestic issues, power-imbalance and age-gap related issues (the latter added to by personality-driven differences as well). Of course, all three are inextricably intertwined with one another, so forgive any apparent contradictions.
For the domestic, we've got three major issues. First, our (psychologically: my) financial situation has become a disaster. Since Laura moved in, our expenses have grown a good deal faster than our income (despite my raise) and I was stupid enough - until recently - to think the credit card situation was under control. The past couple of months, we've had very little money after food and rent, which - while not third-world poverty, is still close enough to create tension.
Second, learning to live with another person in what had been my space. Laura, unfortunately, was not raised to do chores, nor to manage money - I have found myself in the unhappy situation of (a) earning a living, (b) doing most of the cooking and the cleaning and (c) doing what has seemed like a fuck of a lot of nagging.
I hate being a nag. The (in)actions that cause the nagging create stress, and the nagging itself causes more.
(Which is not to say this has been going on without change during the whole period of co-habitation. In fact, Laura has been working hard at becoming more domestic and I have (with arguably less success) been working equally hard at finding ways other than the playing a harpy to achieve equilibrium. But still - as my intellect acknowledges without much difficulty - the process of learning to mix and match each other's strengths and weaknesses is a slow and probably never-ending road.)
Meanwhile, Laura has been getting more and more involved in the BDSM "scene", meaning that she is off at semi-naked photo-shoots, partying more than late into the night in situations I don't much enjoy most of the time (and so, from which I am usually absent), and generally bringing to light feelings of jealousy that I had thought were well and truly buried.
(Don't get me wrong: We have agreed to be monogamous and I have no doubt she is holding to it. What I am talking about is how I feel, not what I think.)
Third, it seems to me Laura is going through some changes, inevitable at her age. Currently, she is getting involved in a scene in which I have little interest and, worse, one that is primarily focussed on sex and sexuality. Most guys who don't want to go out dancing every weekend worry that their girlfriend's skirt is too short; I worry that mine isn't wearing one at all, and that her nipples are covered by nothing but strips of plastic tape - and wonder at the bruises on her ass when she comes home.
So. Sunday night. Laura came home and I - more or less together, I thought - found myself listening to her talk about the fun she'd had Saturday, just dancing, dancing, dancing, by herself.
And we talked about another event this coming weekend. "I'm probably just going to want to dance by myself," she said.
I grunted, as all of the insecurities and ego-bruises I had thought were healed screamed that they were nothing of the sort. I nodded from time to time as she talked about the details of her weekend, of the people she'd talked to, the people at work, of how much fun she'd had at Darkrave. "Nobody tried to dance with me," she said, "like they knew I needed my space."
I grunted (again) and nodded and, otherwise silently, made my way to our room, threw on some clothes.
I kissed Laura's head and told her I needed to go out.
I was, frankly, close to tears - tired, a little stoned, a feeling ridiculously sorry for myself. More, I knew my feelings were extreme and I knew didn't want to talk about them until I thought them through. "I'm going to go out," I said. "I need to think things out a little."
But she was having none of it. "Tell me now," she said. "What's bothering you?"
And so I sat back down, boots already laced, and faced the inevitable.
More or less, I told her all I have told you, here. How I was feeling insecure; how I was feeling hurt; how I was feeling jealous.
And Laura (bless her - I think), responded first by saying, "I'm going to do things you don't like."
Not very fucking sensitive, I thought.
But of course, it was true. She will do things I don't like. And rightly so. In fact, in my brain of brains, I want her to do things (some things! Please don't buy a motorcycle, Laura!) I don't like. One of my biggest worries when I started out on this weird and wonderful relationship was the possibility that someone so much younger than I would look up to me in an unhealthy way, and so loose herself in me. As I have learned, this isn't something I need to worry about.
Which presents its own difficulties. They do say that the grass is always stronger at the next dealer's table, don't they?
I want Laura to be independent, but I also want her to (ahem - coincidentally) want what I want.
So, really, the solution to the only part of the three issues that isn't just learning to live together, is for me to accept her for who she is, and who she is becoming, and enjoy the fact she isn't clinging to my arm when I want some time to myself or breaking into my email and demanding to know who this Kai Hua person is (hi Kai! letter to come soon, I promise!).
The problem, then, is within myself. If I am unable to make an intellectual case against Laura going out dancing (whatever she's wearing, then it's up to me to deal with myself and stop giving her a hard time. It won't be easy, and I will (though I hope I'm wrong) give her trouble in the days ahead, I'm going to do my best to do what I think is best.
Emotions are important and emotions are true - but one allows them to rule one's life at risk of one's happiness and integrity. But I still hope she tires of the club scene sooner rather than later ...