Yesterday was our seventh wedding anniversary, so I should have expected a woollen jumper or some new copper piping. I got neither of those things.
We didn’t wish each other.
We didn’t acknowledge it with a card.
We didn’t go anywhere for a meal, like we usually do.
I guess we’ve got to the point where doing so would be a bit too much like lying. I mean, we are separated now. (‘I don’t live here any more,’ he feels compelled to remind me, whenever I rely a little too much on his good offices with respect to the rubbish or the recycling.) Add to those seven years another 10 of living together, and you get a chunk of life – the better part of it, really. And by that, I don’t actually mean better, as in ‘really good’, but ‘a lot’. Our relationship has accounted for a lot of our lives.
But what if…
What if we didn’t do anything because we were waiting to see what the other person did first?
And yet. Yesterday, Ben spent most of the day measuring the shed (where he used to stash his beer) and planning out how to fit a ground anchor so that I would have somewhere secure to chain my new bike. He checked out my bike, insisted I take it back to the shop because the brakes were rubbing and today, fit the anchor and set up a lock for me. He also left me a high visibility vest for night riding.
What does it all mean?
Because that was precious time. Time he could have spent doing something – anything – else.
Does it have to mean anything? Is he trying to demonstrate something to me? Is he … demonstrating his care through DIY?
Because we don’t – can’t – talk, I end up speculating about his actions. Frequently, I read things that aren’t there. I learnt, years ago, that what he does is all there is. There is nothing more to it. I persist in searching for clues to motive in a vain attempt at communication.
It’s deeply dissatisfying.
Seven years. Seven years of living with a remote and undemonstrative partner who eventually found expression and comfort not in me, but a can of beer.
In memory of the promises made to me seven years ago, I close with this. Maybe there was something to it, after all.