The cold front continues, with a brief thaw

Today the snow continued. I woke up to a white landscape. Not much snow, maybe a couple of inches, but on this side of the mountains (the Cascades) we don’t usually get much snow, so an inch or two can really shut things down.

I also woke up to a cold wife. She spent the night here last night. I’m not sure why, she never said. She was really pretty unfriendly all day. The only smiles I saw came when she went outside in the snow with the dog to take some pictures for her blog. That was about it, though. I’d had about all I could take of her negativity and generally unpleasant behavior by about 10:00 a.m., so I decided to get out.

Normally on Sunday mornings my wife would be playing piano at a local church. She’s not a Christian — neither of us is — but it’s a gig she’s had for pretty much as long as I’ve known her, and the community there really love her and enjoy her playing. All that changed with the new year, as she began to actively dump as many jobs as she could. Her rationale is that she needs to concentrate on her dissertation. That’s what she’s telling people. That’s not really a rationale, but rather a rationalization. In the past 15 days she’s done absolutely no work on the dissertation for which she has quit so many jobs. I don’t expect to see her start working on it anytime soon, either.

So, normally I take her to church, and then I go off to my local Buddhist center and sit (i.e. meditate) with the community for a couple of hours. Then I come back and pick her up, we have lunch, she teaches a couple more students (I have to schlep her around for this, since she never learned how to drive) and then there is one more student at home in the evening. And, I have a special ceremony I do at the center every Sunday evening as well. Sundays, therefore, are normally pretty full days.

This was one of her biggest beefs: she’s had to work weekends pretty much since we got married. That’s largely true, but then it’s true for most musicians. They work weekends. That’s how it works. Your profession is a leisure activity for others, so your work time falls during their leisure time. You can compare this with a similar example: football players who have to play games on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. It’s part of the job description, in a way. As for my wife’s work load, I’d say she actually works about 10 hours on the weekend, and then maybe another 10 during the week. This means her weekend actually falls between Monday and Friday. She never could quite comprehend this. Somehow her weekends had to be sacrosanct, yet she would not give up her line of work to make that happen. I guess that was just my responsibility, as was pretty much everything else, to provide for everything so that she wouldn’t have to lift a finger. She actually said this a couple of months ago: “I just wanted you to make all the money so that I could just do what I want.”

Back to this morning, then. I’d had enough of her coldness, and I felt she needed a dose of me backing off from her a bit. So I just told her I was going down to the center to sit for a couple of hours. She said that would be okay. I came home a couple of hours later, and there she was, still in front of the computer. I got home a bit later than normal, since I’d stopped off at the store for some ingredients for lunch. I was getting ready to prepare something, and she decided to leave. She said she was going back to her friend’s house (where she’s been staying) to watch a movie with them. I simply said, “Okay, bye. See you later.” And off she went. Then I made lunch: dakbokkeumtang, a Korean dish of spicy, braised chicken. Very hearty, and plenty left over for dinner. I enjoyed it just fine without her.

I had a board meeting this afternoon for a non-profit whose advisory board I serve on. It dragged on and on, due to technical problems. A couple of people had to join via videoconference, one due to the weather, and the other due to the fact that he lives over 100 miles away. We just couldn’t get the video link working. But we managed to wrap up fairly quickly, and I made it back over to the center for the weekly ceremony I do. (This is called the Green Tara sadhana, for those of you who might be curious.)

Then I got home and had some of those tasty leftovers from lunch. Why am I bringing this up again? Well, my wife was not home, and had not come home since leaving this afternoon, so I took it that she’d be staying with her friends tonight. So I called her. In the reconciliation program I’m doing, you aim to have at least 5 brief, non-logistical talks with your spouse during the course of the day. By brief, I mean 30-60 seconds. You’re just trying to make a connection, nothing else. I’ve typically not had issues with these in the past, as my wife was always at home. Now that she’s gone at least part of the time, that’s a different story, and you have to deliver these by phone.

All the times in the past that I’ve tried to call her to do this, she’d just let it go straight to voice mail. Recently, however, she’s been keeping the ringer on her phone turned up. So when I did call, I wasn’t totally surprised that she picked up. The conversation was brief: I told her about what I’d cooked, how good it was, and that there would be plenty left over for her tomorrow. That took about 30 seconds. Then I said, “well, that’s pretty much all I have to say.” She laughed, as she thought that was a bit odd. (Mission accomplished!) Then she wanted to keep chatting, so we talked for a bit. The church she plays at was broken into over the weekend, and they had a bunch of things stolen.
Evidently the pastor was very upset by this. We chatted a bit more; it sounded to me like she was maybe a bit lonely. She’s sleeping in the basement room of these people’s house, and it’s not really a comfortable place for her to be. And here I am, calling her from the warmth and comfort of our home, telling her about the nourishing meal I’d made that would be waiting for her when she came back.

In a way, it was almost like any conversation we would have had prior to this crisis, except that now, any such conversations are precious. It was so nice just to hear her voice. I really, really miss that. And I miss her presence, her companionship, and most of all her love.

I do think the “separation” is hard for her, and almost certainly much harder for her than it is for me. I haven’t had to give up any material comforts. She’s opted to give up pretty much everything. She knows that this is her house and that the door will always be open for her. She is just so obstinate right now that she really has to prove to herself that she can do this, that she can separate from me and be “independent”, a task at which she is actually failing. This also means that she might try to get the divorce paperwork filled out as well. Whether she’ll actually manage that or whether it goes the way of the half-packed boxes is anyone’s guess. I’ve felt for a while now that she’s just hedging her bets, preparing to do things like moving out and filing for divorce, but not really willing to commit to doing any of that 100% until she got the thumbs up from her lover on moving in. Right now it looks like that thumbs up comes maybe at the beginning of March, but even that could be tenuous.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think she can make it that long doing all that couch-surfing. That’s where the itty-bitty thaw seems to be coming in.