Recently, I sat around the lunch table listening to some female co-workers dish about their men–and by “dish,” I mean complain. One new teacher, a young woman in her twenties, groused that her husband played too many video games. Another empathized as her husband did the same thing. A third mentioned her boyfriend’s sports addiction. A fourth launched into a list of the apparently awful TV series with which her husband was obsessed. I listened, appreciating the fact that I was apparently dodging several bullets by the sounds of their collective commiseration. I’m not unfamiliar with the complaint, however; my ex-husband’s love of sports was one of many differences between us that led to repeated nights when I would wake up past midnight to discover that he had fallen asleep in front of the TV, again.
At a certain point in the conversation, someone looked at me expectantly as I was the only woman not to have joined in the male-bashing banter. Newman works with me and is well-liked but extremely private, and so there’s been a certain amount of interest since he and I came out as a couple at work. Low-key interest, but interest nonetheless. (I’d rank it as slightly higher than interest in the department meeting agenda but slightly lower than what’s been added to the community chocolate drawer since the passing of the recent student gift-giving season.) The challenge for me in negotiating these moments is to remain the open, social person I like to be when the opportunity arises while guarding Newman’s privacy. After weighing the odds for a couple seconds, I couldn’t resist chiming in to the conversation.
“Newman’s current obsession is the mandolin. He plays it every night.”
Truth? Yes. Bragging? Maybe a little. Sheer pride and joy at my partner’s amazing, totally impressive, do-it-for-no-one-but-himself commitment to a new instrument? Absolutely. Talk about making it daily. He got himself a mandolin for his 50th birthday this year in August and has practiced it every day since then with very few exceptions. He’s going to sound awesome when we make our return to the BlueGrass festival next summer.
The other women appeared dutifully impressed, and I didn’t embellish the details. After relaying the conversation to Newman later, he gently admonished me for the bragging part. I didn’t really feel that bad about it though. Here’s the thing. I’m so happy to be in a relationship where my partner inspires me. I want to proclaim it to the world, and I love being in a place where it’s easy and tempting to brag about my partner.
The really good thing is that it goes both ways. He is so damn proud of me for starting to write again that even when I wanted to give up after my second post (seriously), I couldn’t for fear of letting him down. And that, dear reader (if you do exist), is a great thing. I love that my partner inspires me.
As I write, I can hear my man with his mando downstairs. Although he plays in the basement to maintain his privacy, I can hear the eager notes as they climb up the stairs and send their muffled joy my way. Free and I like to listen after storytime when we’re snuggling our goodnights to each-other. And lately, Newman’s started to let me listen to him as he tries out a song or two in front of me. It makes me ridiculously happy. To see him doing what he loves to do and know that it makes him happy…what more can I ask for?
I wish it had been this easy in my last relationship to be inspired. I know for a fact that I did not inspire my ex either, and I wonder about how we ended up that way. I don’t believe it’s where we started out, but somehow we lost the ability to raise each-other up. Sometimes, I guess you have to learn how to love well the second time around by not doing such a good job the first time around. I don’t want to make the same mistakes twice, so for now, I will focus on those notes winding their way to me, and I will send out this post to wind its way back.