It’s incredible how much you can fall in love with a child. When mothers tell you that this is “true love” you should believe them, because they’ve experienced all kinds of loves and this is truly the greatest one Romeo and Juliet could never understand.
I have to kiss Dakota in the middle of the night when she’s sleeping. Her fingers curl. I hold my breath. She’s still asleep.
I want to take her to Eugene, aka. track Town, USA. I feel like that would be a great place to raise a child. I think about the river and all the ducks. I think about the glowing green forests. I think about the Pizza Research Institute and Cafe Yumm. I think about my friends who were there when I lived there and who are there now. ; my ex; the art museum; the theater with the obese orange cat; the jazz shop that closed ten years ago; the rain.
Before Charley, I never thought about the Four Corners. I always thought about the West coast. I loved the forest and ocean so I assumed that’s what everyone loved. But Charley loves the desert. How do you bridge the gap between couples in love with wildly different geographical regions? What if you love redwoods and he loves pinons?
Chris Cornell died. Another grunge legend who reminds me of college. There’s a picture of Cornell in a news article. He’s in blue plaid with the characteristic oily brown locks. He had a history of depression and his death was ruled a suicide by hanging in a Detroit bathroom. This was just hours after a concert where he sang lyrics from Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying” inside a haunting rendition of “Slaves and Bulldozers”. His death reminds me of the million times I listened to “Black Hole Sun”- with my boyfriend who always walked around naked; in the metro in Seoul, trying not to feel like an astronaut who lost her planet.
Instagram search is a good place to watch other people living the life you would want to be living if you could only figure out how to make money. Some people are somehow always traveling. They’ve made it a commodity and it’s nice to look at, especially when they post stylized pictures of castles and their feet dangling off a cliff covered in ice and fog.
I pretend I’m at these places, on a trip from *scroll down down down* Nepal to camp in the snow at some nameless peak *scroll down down* then a quick detour to Yant Flat, Utah, to hike in the red rocks and a hop and a skip over to *scroll down down* a stargazing expedition in the Colorado Rockies. It’s the modern equivalent of spinning a globe and choosing a destination with our fingertip: Moab.
Charley won’t work here. He might take off for Moab. The internet is mocking me.
Everytime I imagine him leaving again I feel panicky. I’m afraid of that depression right after the departure and the feeling that I’ll be alone forever, that my instinct for true love is horse shit, and that there’s no one out there for me. I then think about how it’s been a year and a half since he moved in and he’s always unemployed and needy. I think about how our anniversary is a few days away and he will have nothing for me because he never does and I think about my naked ring finger. I think about couples I know on trips and honeymoons and I know this isn’t what it should be or I feel I deserve and why do I keep talking about it when I should be strong and get on with the next chapter going solo.
I can’t stand these quiet nights expecting abandonment. I need another trip. Open Instagram and scroll: a field of flowers in Oregon, *down down* a field of flowers in Washington *down down* Utah again, Goblin Valley, more red rock, more Edward Abbey in my head.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view,” Abbey said. It’s as if he wanted me to know, you will be lonesome, you will be afraid, but the place you are going to is what you need.
*Scroll* Iceland; an extremely pregnant woman doing yoga; a couple kissing their child. Now I’m fucking depressed. I’m afraid of what this next week, this season, this year will bring. It’s like a puzzle: I can see the final image but pieces are missing to make it whole, and I don’t know how to replace them.
I want to turn it all off. My brain. The internet. This puzzle.
The next morning, Charley gets a phone call from El Monte Sagrado. One of the finest restaurants in town wants to hire him as a line cook. He goes in and meets the chef but returns apathetic. I’m making cabbage soup and smiling. What’s wrong?
“I don’t want to fail. … I just want to be a dishwasher.” I try to pump him up. He dismisses me. I call him a loser. He says he hates me. He’s leaving in the morning. I leave the house. I see these glimmers of hope and what could be and they never evolve into anything. I can’t stand his face.
People don’t really talk openly about how hard marriage is for the first year. I have a couple days left until I can legitely say I survived it, (only slightly unhinged), the first year of a shotgun-style wedding and pregnancy and all the drama that goes with marrying a man with the emotional intelligence of a 14-year-old, Asperger’s boy.
It makes me mad, actually, that his parents think he has it but never got real help or hit him over the head with the news. Is it my job to treat him? My mother-in-law’s fetish for western shamans, witch doctors and psychics doesn’t help. Both in-laws wobble back and forth between extreme concern and extreme apathy. This reminds me of my husband. Tel père, tel fils.
So if he has Asperger’s, I need to step up my game (also veering swiftly toward the EQ of a preteen) in the communication department. Dr. Kenneth Roberson says “Communicating effectively is the key to a successful relationship yet it is the very thing that people with Asperger’s have the most difficulty doing”. He says communication patterns develop early on in a relationship (kind of a disheartening statement) but to start changing now. He also says to focus on clarity, write things down, make criticism constructive, and be strategic (avoid accusations and stay calm). I basically fail at all these things. I have a short fuse and a long, steady temper simmering under a calm exterior. I get defensive, make accusations daily, and basically fail at communicating, which is funny because I seem to be okay at it in writing.
Some would just argue my dude is an asshole or maybe even bipolar or psychotic. It depends on who you talk to and what you tell them, what they’ve read, who they’ve dated and generally where they are in life right now. One person says, “you’d be surprised what my husband and I went through when we first got together, but it’s been over twenty years. … I’m just happy to see you two still together. Hang in there…” and another says “he’s garbage … that’s abuse and abusers don’t change…”
I’m consumed with the thought of Asperger’s but I have no documented medical proof. And while I’m not sure how to bring it up without causing a stir (“um could you get disability welfare?” “I just can’t tell if you’re an asshole or an aspie”) I do feel that a mother-in-law’s diagnosis must undoubtedly be 100% correct. In a Daily Mail article “Is your man wired differently? Signs that he may have Asperger’s syndrome”, Charlotte Methven says, “If a lack of social skills, zero sensitivity and puzzling behaviour sums up your spouse, he could have Asperger’s syndrome.”
I’m lying in bed next to Charley. It’s 1:30am and he’s on his tablet while I read a book with my phone in one hand.
I show the excerpt to Charley: “Look, it’s you.”
He is seriously miffed. Playing it off as a joke does nothing. “What a pile of shit. …are you serious? I can’t even sleep in here … if anyone has autism it’s you … disgusting” and he goes to sleep in the other room.
Okay, well that went about how I thought it would go. I wish he’d read on.
“Is your other half more likely to remember the score of the FA Cup final 12 years ago than he is to buy a present for your child’s birthday?” Yes. He never buys anyone anything ever. “Does he pick the exact moment when you’re trying to unpack the food shopping, feed the children and let the dog out, all at once, to ask why his navy argyle socks are not in the drawer?” Charley turns all the lights on to find his pants. He smokes the remainder of my emergency cigarillo. At 2am I drive to the nearest 24 hour gas station for another. This is not what some might call “a happy marriage”. It’s more of a first year panic attack, with a few intermissions for sweet sex. The farmers market is tomorrow morning and I’m going to be tired as fuck. I don’t know if I want to try anymore to “bring out the best in him”.
Luckily my mini aussie Freyja is by my side through all of it. She follows me everywhere- to the kitchen, to the bathroom, to the 24-hour gas station. I ask the magic 8-ball, “is this marriage going to last?” I’m pretty sure it laughs at me. We laugh together. Freyja shakes her head.
I should however note that some extremely great people have supposedly been known to be Aspies, including Temple Grandin, Jane Austen, Alfred Hitchcock, Hans Christian Andersen, and Albert Einstein. My husband thinks that I am in fact the Aspie here. Also, Asperger’s is only found in about .13% of the total world populating versus 12% of the population with ADHD. And what do I know? I’m not a psychologist. I’m just, (as Clementine Kruczynski in “Eternal Sunshine…” would say), “a fucked-up girl who’s lookin’ for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours”.
*To read “Notes On a Hospitalized Pregnant Woman”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521096910/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_awdb_x_Dcg-yb990NBWB