Monday, 26 September 2011

The Interim

In the interim, we celebrate our first wedding anniversary. My sister is visiting from the States with her husband and 2-year-old daughter. A kindly agrees to have our anniversary dinner with them so I can see them one last time before they go home. We do celebrate together, too, just him and me. We go back to where he proposed, with a tarp and a big umbrella, because it's raining. We huddle together in our little shelter, giggling, high on champagne and memories and creme brulee and happiness.

The next weekend, we go to Portugal. It's languid and warm. We're good at holidays; we're relaxed and flirty and content. The food is insane - one entree at any restaurant turns out to be equivalent to what my mom used to cook for a family of five. The meat melts like butter in your mouth; I've never tasted anything like it. For the most part, I feel ok about this. I never finish a portion, and rationalise to myself that it's mostly protein and veg with very little carbs. We agree with A's friend that he is to come stay with us for a few weeks upon our return to the UK.

At this point, A's parents throw a spanner in the works. Over skype, they tell us they don't want the friend staying in the spare room, which is their room for the few weeks of the year that they're in England. We try to reason with them, suggest that maybe we could use the spare room and the friend stay in our room, but they're resolute. A's dad is angry and desperate to be in control of the situation, demanding that we agree with him. The discussion quickly escalates into an argument. They tell me if I don't want to abide by their rules I can leave.

Why does this matter? I have a family of my own. I have parents who love me, and a home where I belong, where I'm not a transplant organ being slowly eaten away by the recipient's protective mechanisms. I have a last name and an identity outside of this family. I was a whole person before coming here, and I don't need this family's acceptance. 

I am an adult, so I begin to write, calmly, to his parents. I explain that I'm not one of their children and I don't expect to be dictated to as though I am. That I require that they afford me the same respect I've shown them. Mid-sentence, though, I feel it. Something clicks in my brain, and everything shifts.

They hate you, Sophie. They want you gone, all of them. Even A. He's embarrassed by how awkwardly you stick out here. If only he'd known beforehand how different you were from the rest of them. If you stay here you'll always be an outcast. They'll make him leave you, convince him he made a mistake. They'll introduce him to someone, or pressure him to join a dating site like they did his brother.  And he'll see. He'll see who he could have been with. He'll find someone just like them and she'll slot so neatly in to the space you left, soon no-one will even remember you were there. You have to leave. Leave before they find you and throw you out. Leave now, while it's still your choice. Leave this place - take your awkwardness and your breathless, gasping fears and your sadness and your rage, and let the world be in peace. 

A applies for a Saturday job, teaching. He asks if I'll mind. We don't need the money, but it would be a fun opportunity for him. Between his day job, the business he's setting up with his friend, this Saturday job, and the time that he needs to spend alone on his own hobbies, I wonder when we'll see each other. I want to protest, to exclaim "But you promised! You said this would be the year we worked on our marriage..." But I'm too tired to fight him for that anymore. I don't believe we have that long left together and I want to just enjoy the times we do have, and the times that we're happy. Barely a day goes by anymore that I don't wish only to be free of this body, of this presence on the earth. I wonder if he knows that and is filling his days up in preparation for being alone, and I know I have to let him.

If I let him go, a thousand times, in all these small ways, maybe one day he'll let me go too. 

4 comments:

Miranda, AKA Fed Up said...

Why don't A's parents want this friend to stay in your home? I couldn't help but wonder. I'm sorry you feel like the odd man out around your husband's family. He picked you so he loves you. Hopefully any outside influence won't ruin what you have. Don't let him go just b/c they don't see in you what he does.

cannelle said...

I am so sorry about this. And reading it makes me feel very sad. But he still loves you, doesn't he? The whole world is so strange not only for you. I really can remeber feeling so terribly awful, too.
Don't let him go because he is the one who decides to live his long life with you, and I mean only with you, together.

sorry for bad english, I do my best.

Esme said...

I just wanted to say hello-I'm new to blogging. I've been reading your blog and find it to be very moving, and I feel like I can relate to much of what you describe. You're a very talented writer!

Beth said...

I can't pretend that I can empathise on such a level. I believe you are incredibly selfless. But do you need to sacrifice so much to keep so many happy? What I can understand is always wanting to please, and always feeling inadequate. But I can promise you that with you it is not the case. Your words are beautiful, and have been a huge comfort to me as I'm sure they have been to so many others. <3