I am cooking but it’s in a slow cooker. I’m resisting my rental apartment oven because I have a $12,000 oven at the farm that no one is using, and maybe that wouldn’t be so frustrating to me if I didn’t also have $35,000 piano at the farm that no one is using.
I can tell I’m throwing all caution to the wind because writing other blog posts I told myself to not tell you how much I paid for the piano but really, that’ll be nothing compared to what I end up paying for a cello, so maybe I’m just conditioning you for more shocking news to come.
At 9am my older son goes to a violin lesson – he goes every day because why not? We live walking distance from the teacher and if he’s going to play an hour a day he may as well do it with someone who has a lot more patience than I do. And at 9am my younger son goes to Swarthmore college’s practice rooms to play piano. I hope the people in charge at the college don’t read this blog because I’m not actually sure if my son is allowed to do that.
But if they do read this blog, I would like to teach a writing course at the college. Wouldn’t something about how to write online be a great idea? Can you please email me about that? I taught creative writing at Boston University and I loved it. Well, except for that one kid who asked me to change his grade because he had to get an A for his application to law school.
A good time for me to talk with my husband is before the kids leave, because that’s after my husband has done chores in thirty-below temperatures and two feet of snow and he’s coming in to get warm.
I am stirring beans into chili with the phone tucked between my neck and chin when a mouse runs across the kitchen floor. I barely flinch because I’ve seen that mouse for three days. The landlord says we don’t need to worry because the apartment only gets mice for the week after Dunkin Donuts exterminates.
When I want to live without mice, I set up my laptop in Dunkin Donuts.
Right now I stir and talk. Stir and talk. My husband talks about the weather, which is not different from when we lived on the farm. Farmers talk about weather. The only difference is that he checks the weather updates for Swarthmore now, so he can also talk about my weather as well.
My weather is like a very cold fall on the farm before the leaves have fallen. The kids are unimpressed. They still wear shorts. I tell this to my husband and then, to be honest, we sort of run out of stuff to talk about.
I say, “I’m happy you are moving to Swarthmore to be with us. It means so much to me.”
He says, “Remember that I’m not moving all the way.”
“Oh. Okay. What should I call it then?
“I’m still going to take care of the farm.”
“Okay. What does that mean? I thought you’re hiring someone to take care of the farm.”
“I am. But I still have to go back.”
“Okay. Well, I’m happy that you are hiring someone to take care of the farm so you can come to Swarthmore.”
Silence. Stir. Mouse. Flinch. Stir. Silence.
“Good. Okay,” I say.
I give the boys chili for breakfast. Lunch for breakfast is one of the rules we break when my husband is not around. I don’t think he even calls it lunch. He calls the noon meal dinner and dinner supper and lunch is something people do in the city when they have no hay to rake.
There is no supper in our life. My husband has adjusted so much for me and the kids that somewhere he lost a meal.
I call him again later from Dunkin Donuts. I drink my coffee, in the front picture window, and watch people get on and off the train.
The tractor is running in the background. I say, “I thought we decided that part of having a good long-distance relationship is turning off the tractor when I call.”
“It’s too cold,” he says. Then he says, “I thought we decided you wouldn’t go to Dunkin Donuts.”
In therapy, as things got more and more difficult, the conversation became, “Why are we doing so much for cello? Why are we putting our kids’ needs ahead of everyone else’s?”
And I’d say, “Should we stay at the farm? Is that a way to handle everyone’s needs equally?”
I didn’t know what would happen when I moved. I knew the family had to make a choice. Just like there are no families where two people have high-powered careers, there are no families where two people are chasing unrelenting dreams. But I want a family where we help each other meet our goals.
And then it hits me: My husband has already met all his goals with farming. He is scared to leave the farm because he doesn’t want to lose what we have. But I always want more. I am not interested in hanging on to what we’ve done before.