Monday, December 12, 2011

the stuff we have (two)

This bit is about him.

I'm afraid I won't do him justice. You'd need to come on over and sit at one of our Sunday open-house brunches, have him poach you an egg and grill you some bacon like you were sitting in a cafe. Within minutes you would get a sense of him, and the mad house we have going on. He's a very hands-on parent, so there will be a child in his arms (and probably one in the hall having a time out) while he's whipping it all up.

You'd instantly notice just how much he adores me. Still after seventeen years and four babies, you'd notice, because he'd hug and cuddle me and tell you that I am wonderful. I always get a little self conscious 'cause I don't believe I'm that great.

You'd definitely score one of his amazing stove-top Lattes, no swanky coffee maker machine for him. You might have to wait an hour for it, cause he has his own time zone and it's always on slow. He'd almost certainly ask if you'd like to see his compost heap whilst making you coffee. He'd grab a hand full of it, all black and pungent. He loves showing off the balls of worms. That isn't a double entendre. Great whacking big gobs of wriggly pink worms. (I swear, not an entendre!)

Only this way would you actually get the feel of him. Three hours later, waiting for a second coffee and he'll still have you discussing the economic fall of Iceland. This is where I'll be slowly backing away, cause the "end of oil" talk would probably be coming next, and that one I am a little freaked by.

My partner has always veered slightly off kilter.

He always thinks we can make do with anything or nothing. He is a real romantic like that. He leaves his whole country behind, his whole life, to be with me and he brings one bag! When we were first together, in the two months between him arriving and us getting married, we lived in my painting studio. We slept on foam blocks, our room was partitioned with sheets from my glory box, he made furniture out of cardboard boxes. Good furniture, too.

I have such great memories of that time in my life. I think it was the only time I really fully immersed myself in his free spirit. I'd come from a really sheltered life, my father was quite strict. My husband represented a new life, an escape. And I was madly madly in love.

I knocked the nomadic stuffing out of him, though. I didn't know I was doing it but I did.

Although I'd taken a big chance in just being with him, I began to take less and less chances: The $85,000 house we passed up on, the keys to the cafe we gave back, even the offer of a commercial art gig I said no to. Wasn't I meant to be the free spirit? I was the artist, he was the nuclear engineer.

Then once we had kids, while he was out protesting the war and getting bashed by cops, I wouldn't take any risks at all. I scoffed at his container house idea, I resisted (passively) having chooks. We did not make the tree change.

I just assumed it would never happen. We had kids (two, then three, then four) and he had job and made far more money than I had ever earned painting. I was comfortable in my position while he grew to dislike his more and more. I had little experience with compromise, as there was none in my house growing up. I didn't even know how adults were supposed to communicate. We'd talk, but in the end things would just stay the same.

We have a funny way the two of us of getting around each other. We made a deal (when we first got actual furniture) that we'd have five years on a mattress and five years on a futon. No points for guessing who wanted which one. I have become so overly cautious, I always think of the worst things that could happen to us, even when it came to what we slept on. We're up to the futon for the second time, now.

I cringe every time he remembers these bargains we made, ones I sometimes make in haste to get my way. Ones I'd rather he forgot.

The most recent bargain he's called in was the "We'll take turns working" one, from before we had kids. It had been building slowly, over years, his discontent. He talked more and more about living simply, about being self sufficient, about moving to Daylesford.

I am kind of interested. But it is when I'm interested that I get a scared to entertain the idea. I think "I'd better not get too keen or it'll actually happen." Because if you let him, he'll make stuff happen, just to see where it goes. I'm terrible like that, I've been a real dampener on his free spirit.

But he's the only person I ever met more stubborn then me. As of last month he works three days a week. He's here when the kids get home from school, he has taken over our garden (another area where I can't compromise), he has planted a herb spiral on our nature strip "for the community." He is getting us all outdoors for dinner. He's never been happier.

Despite my initial panic at the massive salary cut, I am finding that there is a glimmer of that old simple studio life creeping in. There is a chook in our garden now. I am letting him be himself, I am learning to compromise. I have let him bake some of our bread.

For the baker's daughter, that's a pretty big deal.


  1. He sounds awesome, do it, Daylesford is beautiful and not far from the city. What a great honest post, totally did him justice I reckon - maybe a little hard on yourself. Must be some wonderful bread to be had at your house.

  2. Honest and warm...thanks for sharing :)

  3. I think we readers are so blessed to be let into your personal world. I am sure you both bring our the best in each other and having him challenge you in different areas of your life may all end up being for the best.

  4. I've loved reading these posts. So heart felt and full of life.

  5. Aww honey, this is an amazing post. We are lucky to have both you in our lives (and the rest of the brood of course)

  6. Enjoyable takes me back a few years, love it (sis)

  7. I think we are living parallel lives, on opposite sides of the world. But I am more afraid than you to let go. This paragraph spoke to my heart so deeply.

    "I am kind of interested. But it is when I'm interested that I get a scared to entertain the idea. I think "I'd better not get too keen or it'll actually happen." Because if you let him, he'll make stuff happen, just to see where it goes. I'm terrible like that, I've been a real dampener on his free spirit."

    It is scary, yet wonderful to be with a dreamer who makes things happen. I want to believe too, but I am just too cautious. And scared. Looking forward to hearing how you move forward on this. Thank you for sharing so openly.