“The fan!,” I whined. “Can you please turn on the fannn?”
The Lawyer got out of bed to press the power button on the wall. Blades started whirring above me.
Despite the windows being open, the comforter having been discarded hours ago, and the fact that it was early January, it was still warm in The Lawyer’s condo. Sun was already spilling through the cracks in the blinds, but I refused to get out of bed so early on a Sunday morning.
“Man, I love the fan on when I’m sleeping,” I smiled, as gentle bursts of cool air circulated around the room.
“I love the fan too!,” he exclaimed. “I just got used to not being ‘allowed’ to have it on,” his voice trailed off.
“As in, your ex didn’t like it?,” I asked, turning towards him.
“Yes. But, I think it must be a Florida thing. We always sleep with the fans on, right?”
“Of course!,” I said, appalled. “I even sleep with the fan on in winter!” (True story.)
For the longest time, The Lawyer wouldn’t talk about his ex. Playing the stereotypical gender roles, I would drone on and on about that dumb banker, Rich, who did me wrong and would never, ever find a woman like me again. I’d boo and hiss about all of his flaws and then apologize for bringing it up again.
That's just how I roll. We all know that I’m a big fan of therapy, and if this blog has shown you nothing else, it’s that I need to talk my issues out to achieve resolution.
With this in mind, I’d asked The Lawyer more than once if he needed to vent about his ex. He’d just say no and move on. He was always calm and resolute about it, saying that there wasn’t anything really to talk about. Knowing that maybe he really didn’t need to talk (and that he has a therapist for such things), I accepted his statement for what it was.
Slowly, though, things have started leaking out. Maybe it is his increased comfort level with me, or maybe before, it was just too early. But now, there will be a single comment or passing reference to her.
The stagnant air that needs to be vented has started to circulate.
Unfortunately, more than once, I’ve found myself trying to surmount hurdles that I’d thought I’d already passed. I brace for opposition and distress when I say that I can’t go out (again) because I need to study (again). I hear myself offering apologies because I’m boring and no fun and prefer to lie around the apartment and rest when I have an afternoon off.
Instead of guilt-tripping me and showing no empathy, though, The Lawyer puts on home clothes and plops down next to me with his laptop. He tells me that the only thing that a man expects of a woman is to see her pretty face at the end of the day and if he says anything else, he’s just lying. He shoos me out of the kitchen when I’m supposed to be studying and when my classmate asked me where I bought the hummus that I was eating for lunch today, I humbly and somewhat embarrassedly answered,
“I’m not really sure, actually. My boyfriend does all of the grocery shopping now.”
He is the stark opposite to Rich’s overbearing personality and expectation that I play trophy girlfriend and perfect homemaker, regardless of what I had going on in my life. Instead, we order in pizza and I read USMLE questions out loud in the car. And, that’s perfectly OK.
When The Lawyer and I first started dating, my old roommate told me that she thought that God was going to use us to help heal each other from our past relationships. I took her comments to be just an excited friend seeing the positives in a beloved roommate choosing to date a recently divorced childhood acquaintance. But, as time passes, I see exactly what she means. Sometimes you need the ease and simplicity of a relationship with someone new to erase the onerous memories of the person that came before them. Sometimes the new person is the key to getting over the old.
I recently told The Lawyer what my old roommate said about the healing. He said that more than once, I have done or said something that heals the past wounds. I ogle my friends’ babies and talk to him unabashedly about wanting children (as opposed to refusing to talk about pregnancy, because it's "contagious"). I like it when he makes the restaurant reservations and does the date planning (as opposed to thinking that a man who does the date planning is controlling). I had a blast sitting around telling stories with his family and doing nothing at Christmas (as opposed to thinking that his family is boring and racist). And yes, I like to sleep with the fan on.
It’s hard to describe what it means to have a relationship that’s easy. But, in comparison to one that’s hard, it's practically therapeutic. And, regardless of where things go from here, that feels really good.