Friday, May 19, 2006

you remind me of the Artful Dodger

At last night's meeting of our writing group, Marci said, "There's an old Russian saying about how if you don't love someone, then nothing -- nothing! -- is more annoying than watching them eat soup -- but if you love them, then they could pour their soup over head and you'd still think they're perfect."

Katie said that she'd told her "I-don't-want-to-be-your-boyfriend-right-now" that he reminded her of the artful dodger, and he said, "Who's that?" She told him it was from Oliver Twist -- and he said, "What's that?" And then she had to take the phone upstairs so her mom wouldn't overhear her telling her not-boyfriend who Dickens was.

Phoebe is the one who started this group; Katie and Marci and I had never met before last month. When Marci asked me yesterday if I was having "boyfriend woes," I said no, not really like that, and then looked at my hands in my lap and blinked while Phoebe said, "Together, they are very sweet to each other." When I share the fact that Robert and I have never lived in the same country, people are usually surprised and sympathetic. When I add that we see each other at least once a month, the sympathy turns into a question: "How is that possible?" The answer to which is a combination of frequent flier miles and not having an employer. I have no objection to the former, of course, but am feeling increasingly guilty about the latter.

I was brought up in a family where both parents worked full-time from the time I was born (well, in my mother's case, more like six weeks after) and are still working (except, again, in my mother's case when she took just a few years off to volunteer full-time on the school board). For thirty years, my father has woken up at five-thirty in the morning to exercise; my mother goes on six-miles hikes on Saturdays and Sundays. On the weekends, they take care of the lawn and the house and the recycling. They also read the newspaper every day and cook dinner at night and go out with friends on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights (the last one for the church group).

All of this is to say that by comparison in the last couple of years, I've had it very, very easy. Graduate school, reading, writing, exercise, margaritas, and travel. True, there have been some rough spots (like the moment, after I lost my job in 2003, when I accidentally set my fingernails on fire in front of the Brooklyn library and was too depressed for a few seconds to do anything except watch them burn) but generally, I've been able to set up a life that I love, almost entirely free from six a.m. alarm clocks. Two weeks ago, Robert's mother and my mother asked me, while we were walking along the Pacific Ocean, what I'm going to do this summer and I told them that at least for part of it I plan to be with Rob in London. My mother said, "Well, you need to have structure there," and I said that I was happy to volunteer although it would be impossible for me to get a job in the UK without a work visa. But no, his mother added, "Go on down to that Pilates studio and tell them you're a yoga teacher. Off the books."

Later, I told Robert that something was obviously wrong if his own mother was encouraging me to be become an illegal alien. So I've been thinking about what to do, how I can support myself again without having to use up sick days in order to spend three days with my boyfriend.


Blogger The Girl Who said...

Or you can be unemployed with me.. Hello Sarah. Have been meaning to get back to you.. but what with Italy, then losing the ol' job I somehow haven't responded. At some point I would love to meet up with you and your writing group although I am MUCH better in email than person.. Can you email me again so that I can save your address? I can't seem to find it although I thought I had saved it from your last email.

Talk soon?

Monica Bielanko

4:57 PM  

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