You can always trust bank advertising to make clear what’s considered normal, the desires we’re all meant to have, the standard way of being. Stuck in a bank queue recently, I looked beyond the tellers to the large, multi-paned ad board on the wall. On it was a man and woman looking comfortable in their expensive white-and-beige clothes, beside them a pair of magazine-beautiful children, behind the family a brick-and-tile home in perfect repair, a white picket fence out front. And I thought, why would anyone in their right mind want any of that? All those rooms of the house filled with the sounds of the kids running up and down and around and everywhere, all that housework, the constant state of negotiation, so much communication and companionship but so little peace and quiet, next-to-no time alone.
Of course, many people (most?) do want this, but not me, not on your life.
I’ve been with my partner for 15 years. For five and a half of these years, we lived together in a cute 1960s house, a pretty garden, a car and matching car-loan, a Dalmatian named Willow and a very naughty cat named Sam. No picket fence, thank God, otherwise we would have looked as though destined for a bank advertisement. But, as it happens to most of us, we hit a road-block, we split up. Only to get together again ten months later. I now owned the house—actually the bank did, through the mother of all mortgages—and my partner now owned a place on the other side of town. Immediately we decided not to jump straight back into cohabiting, we’d take things slowly, just find our own way this time, play by our own rules. Wednesday would be our ‘date night’ and we’d spend weekends together; sometimes we’d take a trip interstate or even overseas. But the rest of the time would be our own—our own time in our own homes.
And it worked. You bet it did. We’re both independent souls, we like privacy and a little solace; neither of us needs constant company, though we do like being in a partnership.
But then came another change; relationships are nothing if not constant wretched change.
Keep reading over at Role/Reboot. Thanks to Meredith Landry.