Thursday, August 04, 2005

Part 2: The Commentary

G said to me the other night: "Thank God you started school NOW, so you could find out all this NOW, rather than sail through the summer and find out in October that you were in the wrong place."

I said: "But I was kicking myself for rushing into this. I was saying, maybe if I had waited until October to start school, I would have learned all this and pulled out of the enrollment before classes even started? I could have gotten all my tuition back then - now ITM gets to keep ten percent!"

"No," G said, "You wouldn't have known enough to look for this kind of info."

He's right. I wouldn't have know enough to ask the questions I did. I learned about the New York State licensing requirements from a packet of information I received on the first day of classes, as part of our student massage practice insurance. I fiddled with the papers and read the card with the pretty yellow stripes that listed the licensing requirements for every state in the country... and BAM. Reality hit.

It took me a couple of days to absorb it. If I had stayed in that school, I would have graduated 400 education hours short, and the best they could offer me was to enroll in an entire additional course of study for an additional seven grand. I'd be in school for two years before I could even apply to practice in New York! I just couldn't see spending my student loan money this way, knowing there were other schools that offered the right number of hours in half the time for comparable money.

My heart broke a little when I faxed my official withdrawal notice, but I did it. I want this new career too badly to not do it right.

Now I'm fighting despair, but I notice it's not as intense as my past despair has been. Let's face it, this is a temporary setback. I still know what I want to do with my life - or, at least I want this to be the next phase of my life, however long it lasts. Where I get the training doesn't matter to me very much. I just want to be doing it.

My new temp job is in a beautiful hospital in Bronxville. I'm working in the Nursing Department. This hospital offers classes in Lamaze, infant care for new moms, CPR, and other such health-related courses for the general public, as well as CPR for Professional Certification. I'm responsible for signing people up for the classes, making sure the instructors have the info and materials they need to teach, and for receiving payments and correspondence. It's a great customer-oriented position, and I talk to expectant moms every day. It's a beautiful environment. I feel blessed to be there.

Almost all the nurse managers are Irish. Pale-skinned, red-haired, blue-eyed irish women with names from the old country. They all look like my relatives. Once, one of the directors accidentally called me Bridget, and I loved it. It's become the department joke. Yesterday someone complimented me on my computer skills, and I said "Bridget taught me everything I know." (yuk yuk yuk.) I feel like I'm surrounded by family - but a family that actually really needs me and wants me around more often than once a year. Blessed.

The drive isn't bad. Over the TappanZee (EZ pass GO), down the Sprain Brook south - which is a lovely, scenic ride - to an exit that plops me right into downtown Bronxville. A meandering road takes me to the parking garage and off I go. The only bad thing is the cafeteria, but hey, I've been spoiled. I'd rather have a great job with a shitty caf than the other way around.

There is one very sad thing about this job; the woman I'm filling in for is out sick, and I know she's been in and out of the hospital. She is out "indefinitely." She has been with the hospital for a while - everyone knows her, and everyone loves her. Someone from the Nursing department visits her pretty much every day. She seems like a lovely person and I truly hope she fully recovers from her ailment... but I know she has a hard road ahead of her. I also would imagine that if she does recover fully, she will be back to work, and I'll be out of a job again, and have to say goodbye to another wonderful workplace. It's bittersweet, but I'd rather have her healthy and strong and living a good life. For me, after all, no matter how happy I may be with it, it's just a temp job. Perspective.

I miss New York City. I fantasize about living there again, waking up in the morning, eating my yogurt and fruit and multi-grain bread, walking a few blocks to the train and riding down to the spa or the clinic or wherever I'm practicing massage therapy. I fantasize about living alone with Marge, my furniture, and my grandpa's piano, and about writing music and essays in my spare time. I want the New York life that I never really had... I want my Friday-to-Sunday life to become, simply, My Life.

I guess we all want that.

I told G a few months ago that I was resentful toward him because I have lost the capacity to say "fuck you." At least, to him. In the past, if a man didn't like something about me, even something trivial, I didn't take his criticism. I could plow through life with only the most basic regard for my lovers - it was their responsibility to fit into my life, not the other way around. When I broke up with them, I didn't look back. But I know, with Gardiner, if I were to lose him, I would have a very hard time getting past it. I am so motivated to make sure he is as happy with me as I am with him that I am doing a lot of things differently. I think I am more up front about my feelings about things, because I don't want him saying "I never knew this about you" down the road.

That was the one thing that ususally killed relationships for me. "I though you were one way, then I realized you were something else."

Well, I'll do almost anything to maintain the goodness of this relationship, the integrity, the fun, the comfort. It's too important to me. I can't neglect it, I can't disregard it, I can't take it for granted, I can't cavalierly dump it. I need it. I love G. And I am absolutely 100 percent not in control of this relationship.

And I told him I hate that. I resent that. I didn't think, when we started dating, even when I fell in love with him, that I would become so protective of this nebulous thing that we have, that we call our relationship. I'm like a feral mother. If I sense that it's sick, I freak out. I really resent this feeling. I had no idea I would love him this much.

Dysfunctionality can be so comforting.

I need to get past the idea that in order for the relationship to be healthy, I'm the one who has to take all the responsibility for convincing G that we're for real. I need to keep reminding myself that this needs to go two ways, and that I have needs other than financial that he, if he's going to be my partner, will need to address. I can't be the only one asking "is everybody happy," and eventually, he will need to let me have a say in how the money gets spent. For now, he's making all the money, and I'm doing all the emotional work. I think it's taking a toll on me. I hate feeling dependent, and I am exhausted from all the... emotional work. I can't think of a better term for it.

His complete support of my new career interest and educational pursuit is, without a doubt, enabling me to boldly charge ahead into this venture. I applied and enrolled very quickly and fearlessly, and the minute I realized I was in the wrong place, I withdrew efficiently. Now I'm diligently working to get back on track with a new school. Knowing that he will ask me how I'm doing with that is the second biggest motivator I have. It's what kept me at this for 5 hours today.

I can't just do things for myself. They say to people who are trying to lose weight, or to quit smoking, that you have to do it for yourself. But I can't work that way. I need someone else in my life, someone who loves me, who I feel responsible to, to motivate me to take better care of myself. Yes, that's a bit fucked up, but that's how it is. And frankly, I don't really think it is all that fucked up. I value myself just fine - but I see no point to living if nobody cares if I'm alive or dead.

G cares. Not only does he care, but more than anyone ever has before, he acts on it. He pushes me to do what I need. He encourages me. He reminds me of my priorities. He rewards me with nice dinners and snuggles on the couch. When he says he's proud of me, I light up like the New Year's Eve ball in Times Square. He's as much a coach as he is a lover. He may just be one of the very best friends I have ever had.

I need this man. Damn him.

I have many reasons to believe, lately, that he does not feel the same way about me. I have reasons to believe that he is disenchanted with me. My moodiness is finally wearing him down, after a year and a half of dating and almost six months of living together. I don't know if we will survive another year right now. I become oddly disconnected to my emotions when I think of this. If we break up, I'll find someplace else to live, and get on with my life, and date again. However, I feel nothing when I type this, and perhaps this is because I am unwilling to accept this vision of the future.

I am not going to "fix myself" to prove I can be a good wife to him. As much as I love him, I simply don't feel that anyone in my life warrants "fixing myself" except for me. I fix myself for me. If someone else truly loves me, if it's ME they love, then that should be enough. I am basically waiting for him to decide if he really loves me - the essence of me, the me-ness of me. I have a feeling that, after a year and a half of dating and almost six months of living together, that he does not even really know me yet.

That's his issue. He has to want to know me. He has to look for me to find me. If he's standing right in front of me, and only sees what he fears, he will never know me. And that's his dysfunction, not mine.

So I'd say we're about evenly matched. Dysfunctionally, I mean.

But it's he who will be the fool, who couldn't see what so many others could. And it's I whose heart will break, yet again.

So I have a car now - I'm no longer dependent on him for transportation. I have a new direction in life. I'm going to have skills and certification to use them. I'm going to love my new career, helping people to feel better. I'm going to pay off all my student loans. I will be back on my feet financially. In a few short years, everything's going to be different for me. And, I think, in a lot of very deep, underlying, important ways, it's going to be better.

He's in on the ground floor of this, and I hope he doesn't give up on me, despairing that I'll ever get the elevator working. Because man, it's going to be one hell of a view. Mount Ouiser is going to have a castle on top.

I see where the road leads now. Come on, G, just stick with me...

1 comment:

Dr. Zoom said...

Mount Ouiser is going to have a castle on top.

Fantastic quote. Immediately in my top 10.