I need a title for this post but I don’t know what it’ll be until I start writing. I’ve thought of a few titles, but they’re all… so long. “The unacknowledged irritation of emotional labor” or “when you wake up aware of a thing you didn’t want to admit before” or “I don’t like what’s going on in my head right now.”
Earlier this year, I was nervous about the craft show I’m about to do. How was I supposed to do it without Tim? How was I supposed to get the heavy stuff there? He always did that. How was I supposed to set up my tent? He always did that. How was I supposed to take care of myself the week before, when I’m working long hours and pulled in different directions? He always stepped up and took care of things. Now I have to take care of myself? What bullshit is that?
Except… the last few days haven’t… haven’t actually been too bad. This… this may actually be the most relaxed I’ve been before a big craft show, ever.
Tim always made such a big deal about carrying the weights for my tent. He would do this thing about tying two of them together, and taking all four at once (two in each hand) and huffing and puffing and making a big deal while moving them, and waving me off if I tried to help with “they’re too heavy, you can’t do them.” I’ve had these weights for… well, since I bought the tent, and that was, what, ten years ago? I’ve never picked them up before. I was always told they were too heavy for me, I wouldn’t be able to handle it. So I always let him do it. I really wasn’t looking forward to having to pick them up. Do I need a big burly guy’s help? Do I need a dolly? Should I make room for a dolly when I pack the car? I’ve been walking past them for months, giving them side-eye, worrying about them.
I decided a few days ago that I’d best buckle the fuck down and see how heavy they are. If Jeff is going to come help me, I should make sure he can do it without spraining anything. It always seemed so hard for Tim. I wanted to be able to adequately prepare Jeff. So I went over to one, took a few deep breaths, leaned over, braced myself, and tilted one over to see how heavy it was.
…. and, I’ve carried bags of cat food that are heavier.
It weighs maybe 25, 30 lbs, tops. I carried two of them at a time, over to the shed where I’m putting everything for HaldeCraft. It was hard, sure, and I couldn’t do four of them, but… I could do two. I could do two, farther, if I stop and rest for a minute about every 50 feet. They were heavy but they weren’t impossible.
Probably if Tim had been carrying two at once instead of four, he wouldn’t even have broken a sweat.
Something I can do differently this year than for the last five or six years is that… I can fire the kiln any time I want. Without checking with anyone.
See, a few years ago, Tim’s aunt and uncle put in a hot tub, and put it on the same circuit as my big kiln. We found this out because one day, about four or five hours into a kiln firing, all the power in the house suddenly went off. Joe did some investigating, figured out it was on our end and not Clay Electric’s end, flipped everything back, and then said that it had happened about the same time that he’d turned his hot tub on and gosh, wasn’t it a good thing I wasn’t firing the kiln, haha.
Except that I was.
And everything was ruined.
And it was a glaze firing, so I had to start all those pieces over from scratch.
And from then on, I had to check with them the day before I wanted to fire the kiln, to let them know I would be firing it, what time I was going to start it, and what time it would be finished, so that they wouldn’t turn the hot tub on during those hours and short out the house again.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s been really nice the last seven months, not having to check in with them before doing my job. Especially in the last month… being able to just finish glazing and start the kiln whenever I want to? It feels like a privilege. And it’s taken a lot of stress off me. Not just in relation to the craft show, but with my work in general.
Now here’s the part I don’t really like to admit. One of the reasons I’m not that stressed out this week is that I’m not exhausting myself with the emotional labor of planning things for/with/around Tim. Specifically, meals, but a couple of other things, too.
It will probably surprise no-one that Tim was … a little particular. He had to do laundry on Sunday. But could I remind him to do laundry on Sunday? So I would have to remember, on Sunday, in the middle of everything else I was doing, to remind a grown-ass man to do his own damn laundry. The craft show is on Sunday. So he’ll want to do his laundry on Saturday. So I should make sure to wash the table linens for my booth before Thursday, and then also remind Tim to do his laundry on Saturday.
For some reason, it never failed, but his car wouldn’t start on THE ONE DAY I was planning on driving into Gainesville, getting a few things (snacks for the show), and going to the bank to get change for my cash box. He needs to take my car, or, I need to get my shit together asap, drive in with him, run my errands, come home, and then drive back into town to pick him up at the end of his work day. Or, I can ask him to go to the bank for me. Except that that seems to be a big “ask” – am I sure? Am I sure I can’t go in with him, come back home, and then come get him again? Am I sure I don’t have time for that? Because he doesn’t have time to go to the bank for me. Unless maybe he could go to the bank for me the next day, maybe he could do that. But not today. OK, yes, we can work around this. Sigh. Sorry I had to ask.
I’m not having to plan dinners for two people during a week I’m really busy. Yes, Tim would make dinner for us, if I asked him to. If I planned it. If I went to the store and bought whatever we needed for dinner. Which, when you’re already busy and tired and stressed out… it’s an emotional labor cost that is exhausting. It’s an emotional labor cost that I feel like an asshole for admitting that I don’t miss paying.
This week, I can eat what I have on hand that I want to eat, when I’m hungry, no matter what time of day it is, without regard for anyone else’s schedule. That’s kind of… freeing.
… which makes me feel like an asshole for saying, because I feel like that makes it sound like I don’t miss him, or that I’m glad he’s gone, and that’s not true. I would much rather have had us work through things like this, than have him be dead.
I also feel like an asshole for being glad I don’t have to watch TV this week if I don’t want to. WHAT’S THAT, you say? Hrm. Do you know why I learned to knit? Because Tim watched more TV than any person I’d ever met, and he didn’t like to watch TV alone, and he watched it loud, and when we started off we lived in a small house so I would hear the TV anywhere, and I can’t read when there’s that much sound around me. I don’t know why, maybe it’s an only child thing, I never have been able to read while others are watching TV in the same room. So I learned to knit because I couldn’t just sit there for hours and watch TV like he does. Like he did. Slowly, over time… and this is hella sad… watching TV together in the evening, during and after dinner, was … it was kind of the only time we really spent together. Especially after we moved out here. When he got home, he didn’t want to go back out again; so if we were invited to something in the evening, most of the time either I went alone, or we didn’t go. So if we were going to spend time together, it was then. Which is great, in a way – to have dedicated time that you spend with your partner? Wonderful! But does it always have to be… while watching TV? Sometimes I don’t want to watch TV – sacrilege, I know. Sometimes I have computer work to do (accounting for work, or something). Sometimes I want to take a bath and read a book. Sometimes (especially this time of year) I should go back over to the studio and get another coat of glaze on stuff. So right now, this week, that I don’t feel chained to the TV? Again… that’s kind of… freeing. And again, I feel like an asshole for saying that.
What’s the damn point of this blog post, anyway????
I didn’t expect to be having a good or easy week this week.
And yet, I kind of am.
And partly I feel great about that (“I don’t feel bad! Yay!”). But partly I feel like a giant asshole (“I don’t have to work around my husband, yay, wait, what, that’s not a yay!”).
It’s times like this that I have to remind myself… people contain multitudes. I can miss him in general and not miss him this specific moment at the same time. I can carry grief that he died and carry relief that I am finding joy in my days at the same time. I can miss him and be irritated by things he did or ways we acted together at the same time. I can be sorry that we’ll never be able to work through that and glad that I see it and can at least work through it myself at the same time. I can carry peace in my heart that I am finding ways to move along in my life that work for me and carry grief in my heart that I’m doing it alone, at the same time.
People contain multitudes. I can carry more than one feeling about a thing at the same time. That’s OK.
I can know that I’m not an asshole, and yet feel like I am an asshole, at the same time.