Monday, November 20, 2017

Reinventing routines and relationships

"And the clock on the wall's moving slower
Oh, my heart it sinks to the ground
And the storm that I thought would blow over
Clouds the light of the love that I found."

I've been corresponding with a couple of my oldest friends, the last of a larger group dating back to my college days, who still live in Texas.

One friend recently persuaded the man she's dated for the past few years to give up his condo and move in with her. Together they renovated her garage into a living area so he'd have his own space to work and smoke cigars. She put it this way.
It has been a huge change, but I think it will all work out. B and I have had our disagreements, of course; we are both so used to living alone, but I think we can work things out.
This prompted me to share this.
Moving is one of the hardest things to do, especially at our age with all our baggage, physical and emotional. It's also stressful for relationships. Neil has been cross with me more often than he ever was before, but I admit I haven't exactly been easy to be with. I'm struggling to adjust, whereas he loves everything about life here - except maybe me and my moods.
My other friend jumped in.
Liz, I’m sure moving to a new city is overwhelming, especially if you don’t already know people. But if it makes you feel any better, D has been very short with me lately and we didn’t even move. He has gotten very crotchety in his old age, and he keeps blaming me for his temper, that I’m driving him crazy. I know I’ve gotten a bit absent-minded recently, but I also have a ton of things on my mind. I’ve always been like that, and he just figured it came with the territory. I try to keep both of us busy so that we don’t have to spend too much time alone with just each other. Isn’t that awful to say?
This surprised me a little, as her husband has always seemed easy going and good natured, and I know he loves her very much.

It did crystallize something in my mind. Since we moved here, Neil has been as dependent on me as I am on him, maybe even more so. He'd characterize himself as an introvert, but he has a greater social need than I do. To wit, although neither of us ever really wants to go to parties, we do go because it's good for us and we generally have a good time. But once there, Neil doesn't want to leave. I'm usually ready to go long before he is, and not infrequently, we're one of the last to leave.

At times I've had to be quite assertive when it's time to go. This includes putting my coat on and waiting outside while he drags out the goodbyes.

Since I left the corporate life in mid-2011, my time has been my own. I've taken classes, done volunteer work, participated in local bead society meetings and events, had the odd lunch with friends. But there are weeks when, except for trips to the post office, I've been happily busy with my routines at home, running my bead business, walking on the treadmill, binge watching serial dramas, reading and writing. I've been accountable to no one but myself for how I spent my time.

At the end of this month it will be a year since Neil retired. But the year has been an anomaly. For one thing, I'd say that Neil had lunch plans with his former work team and other friends approximately three times a week. Much of the rest of the time was spent planning the move, packing and getting the house in shape to sell it. He also played a lot of softball, we saw a fair amount of his kids and mine, we made several trips related to the progress on this house, and we often had social plans with friends on weekends.

During most of that time, my life went on as before, until a couple of months before the move when I started the process of cleaning my glass, selling some, packing the rest, packing my bead collection and finally the rest of my things, or at least the ones Neil hadn't already packed. He packed all of our joint things, such as kitchen ware, all my books and DVDs and CDs and who knows what else. I'm still waiting for certain things to resurface.

Now we are here. Neil has joined a softball team, but they play only one game a week, with one optional practice. He has spent time unpacking. rebuilding storage shelves, shopping for furniture when I can coax him into it, but relative to the past year he has a lot more time to fill. Not that there isn't plenty to do, we've had a continual flow of trades in to fix typical new house glitches, and on a daily basis he bemoans how far behind he's gotten with email and tasks like reading the directions and warranty information on all the new house bells and whistles.

He has good intentions but runs out of steam and winds up falling asleep in front of the TV, coming to bed late and never being fully rested.

I've not gotten into a real routine here yet. My torch isn't quite ready to light up, although it's getting closer and I've actually begun unwrapping and sorting glass. I do try to walk on the treadmill four times a week. I do spend time writing and I have unboxed most of my boxes and spend time organizing and planning where things will ultimately go. With colder weather, my afternoons of sitting on the screened patio soaking up Vitamin D and taking catnaps have ended and I keep busy most of the daylight hours.

And therein lies the rub.

Neil constantly asks me to do things with him, go for walks, go to the grocery store, go out to lunch, go to the movies, go get ice cream. By habit I resist, I protect my routines such as they are, I protect my time.

I have to step back, I have to re-evaluate. I need to find a happy medium. I need to make Neil and my relationship a priority, at least a fair amount of the time.

My treadmill workouts are mostly for me, to stay fit and healthy, but aren't they also partly to stay trim and attractive to Neil? Isn't it contradictory to turn down a walk with him on a nice day so I can walk my three miles on the treadmill? I don't get the same aerobic benefit when I walk with Neil, but is that the whole point?

I'm such a creature of habit. But this move is an opportunity to reinvent my habits.

I'm still pondering what direction to go with my bead making, once my torch is set up. Do I want to sell online again, do I want to start doing shows again? I'm pretty resolved to let this year run out before I sell again, if I do. I plan to close my Texas business at the end of the year, and file a final state sales tax return. But do I want to get a North Carolina tax number? After this year, do I want to continue operating as a business and filing Schedule C returns?

Next year, I've opted to begin collecting Social Security benefits, before my full retirement age. In 2018 I can earn up to $17,040 before my benefits are reduced.

I have a little time to decide. Let me get my torch running and make a few beads and see how I feel about selling. Maybe in the New Year I will test the market and see how it goes. Lampworkers still talk about slow sales, prices continue to seem deflated online, but things might change and it might be worthwhile to stick my toe in the water and go from there.

At the rate time passes, it will be the New Year before I know what hit me. We've been here two months already, Thanksgiving is this week, our trip to Houston is less than two weeks away and after we get back it will be a mere three weeks until 2018. We'll have company for the first week of the year, a houseful, Neil's dad, Chris, Laurie, Luke and the baby.

After that, well, I'll work about this bead and business thing after that.

Probably right after I sort out my relationship priorities and reinvent my routines and habits.

Oh, baby
Well there's a light in your eye that keeps shining
Like a star that can't wait for night
I hate to think I been blinded baby
Why can't I see you tonight?

And the warmth of your smile starts a burning
And the thrill of your touch give me fright
And I'm shaking so much, really yearning
Why don't you show up and make it alright, yeah?
It's alright right

And if you promised you'd love so completely
And you said you would always be true
You swore that you never would leave me baby
Whatever happened to you?

And you thought it was only in movies
As you wish all your dreams would come true, hey
It ain't the first time believe me baby
I'm standing here feeling blue, blue, hah
Yes I'm blue

Oh, babe
Now I will stand in the rain on the corner
I watch the people go shuffling downtown
Another ten minutes no longer
And then I'm turning around, round

And the clock on the wall's moving slower
Oh, my heart it sinks to the ground
And the storm that I thought would blow over
Clouds the light of the love that I found, found
Light of the love that I found
Light of the love that I found
Oh, that I found

Hey, babe, ooh
Hand that ticks on the clock
Just don't seem to stop
When I'm thinking it over
Oh, tired of the light
I just don't seem to find
Have you wait, yeah played
Whoa, I see it in my dreams
But I just don't seem to be with you, you
I gotta get it all, gotta get it all, gotta get it all
I've got to get all

Ooh now my body is starting to quiver
And the palms of my hands getting wet, oh
I got no reason to doubt you baby
It's all a terrible mess

And I'll run in the rain till I'm breathless
When I'm breathless I'll run till I drop, hey
And the thoughts of a fool's gotta count
I'm just a fool waiting on the wrong block, oh, yeah
Hey, now, oh, oh, oh
Light of the love that I found
Light of the love that I found
Light of the love that I
Light of the love that I found."

(John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant)