I brushed my teeth, but not my hair. I’ve been wearing the same clothes, exactly, for the past two days, and I have left the apartment! No make up. Threw on a bra, just to show I care, then we went lamp shade shopping. The Suitor has an antique set of lamps (which were originally vases, turned into lamps, and as he reminds me continually, "they were very expensive") he cannot live without, yet somehow has lived without using, ever, since they have no shades since he bought them with his ex-wife. He was married, too. She picked these up for them. I don’t want them in our home. It’s much less to do with the fact that they’re her taste and more to do with "they’re not my taste." They belong in a sitting room, at The Breakers in Newport, where visitors pass through, catching glimpses of rooms behind velvet ropes. They don’t belong in a home, where people actually fart.
On our ride to the lamp shop, he asked, "So, like, what’s a lamp shade go for these days? Twenty, fifty bucks?" I had no idea but suspected it was closer to the latter guess. We carried the lamp inside, leaving its twin home. Then we paced the store, holding up different shades to see what suited the lamp best. My eye was drawn to the more contemporary lines, while he chose more traditional, bell-type shades. Everything looked fucking ugly, and I wanted to leave. "I’d never even pick this lamp," I said aloud to the saleswoman. I hate having to compromise. When I don’t get my way, all I really feel like doing is pouting until I do, but it never works, so I just become silent, and mostly agreeable, hoping my miserable mood will pass. Ugly lamps. So not my taste. And don’t talk to me about that show "Design For The Sexes" where they merge his candle collection antique look with her West Elm nightmare (I love some of West Elm’s stuff, I must admit, but my true favorite mailer is William-Sonoma Home). My ideal decoration style appears in the movie "Something’s Gotta Give." It’s Erica Jane Barry’s house in the Hamptons. Each room looks comfortable, elegant, like a brand new cashmere turtleneck. I want that. But I won’t say so again.
I’m a traditional girl, yet I’m not. I have no problem trying to get pregnant before getting married, yet I believe the woman should get to choose whichever china pattern she’d like. I mostly prefer Anna Weatherly or Bernardaud’s "Constance" designs. He wants all white square plates in funky shapes. Minimalist. I want what he calls "too busy." I understand, believe me I do, food is its own design, so save the white funky shapes for our casual everyday china, where there’s time to assemble each plate. With formal family dinners, like thanksgiving, it’s all about the spread of the table, not what each plate looks like once there’s food upon it. What’s so hard to understand?
I like ribbons; he wants no part of it. He already knows I hate the color pink, but I do want some things to be girly. Not our bedspread or living room, but our china pattern, well, yes. Guys just shouldn’t care and should defer to what she prefers, because it should matter to her more. Call me sexist. It’s what I know. That’s my modeling. My father didn’t care how my mother decorated the house. "Whatever you want," he’d say. And she’d pass things by him before purchasing, just to be sure she wasn’t spending too much. He’d then chime in with a "how much are you paying for that plate?!" Then she’d roll her eyes and tell him that’s what fine china goes for. "If you love it," he’d say most of the time. But overall, he let her choose. He didn’t fight her and make her compromise on every room of the house. "Just let me do my own desk," he complained after she purchased an antique French desk with two small drawers. The china, bedding, living room… it was all up to her. As long as the den had a big enough television, he was content. I wish I had that, a man who deferred to my taste and simply said, "I’ll look at what you’d like me to, but I trust your taste, so whatever you want." It’s the girl’s job. Men just shouldn’t care.
It’s hard having to merge, to make room for what he loves, despite it not feeling "like me." "It should feel like us," he would say if I told him this. But it doesn’t. Maybe it’s not the lamps. We’ve only had sex once since we’ve been here, though that might have a little something to do with my showering, or lack thereof. It’s a symptom, though, this lack. Stress. Sure. But it seems lately all our power struggles are being emphasized. He tries to be helpful, which reads to me like condescending. "If I want your help, I’ll ask for it," I’ve said. And when I do ask for it, when I plead with him, "I need your help with this," he becomes stubborn and retorts, "I’m not your father. I have needs too, and my needs are not to do things your way. So figure something else out. I do enough around here." And he does. He absolutely does. "But buying a car is a major decision," I plead, "and I don’t want to go alone to test-drive one. Can you please come with me?"
"No, I’ve already made up my mind. If you want to go test-drive something, and you love it, I’ll come back to see it."
"I don’t want to go alone. I get shy, and you ask better questions than I do. I need your help with this."
"You’re a big girl. You do not." This is usually when I cry and prove that I am not at all a big girl. Then he starts in, but I cut him off. "Can I finish speaking?" he says. But I speak over him, knowing the next words he’ll say. "Why don’t you just speak with yourself, if you always know what I’m going to say? I don’t even need to be here." But I know him that well. I know what he’ll say. I don’t need to hear it. But when he feels like he’s not being heard, he gets louder. Or frustrated. Or fed up. And I feel it. So I have to work on not interrupting him, and trying to make room for an us. He has to work on realizing it’s never okay to take his frustration out on me with sarcasm or yelling.
It’s just a pair of ugly lamps. I have an ugly drawing of Barbara Streisand on my desk, a line drawing that resembles a tulip. I guess that’s what you do in real relationships, you make room for each other’s ugly. When I get upset like this, in my "everything is ugly and why am I with you anyway?" mood, I think back to when I first fell in love with him. It makes me easier on him. Puts things into perspective and makes me remember that I love him. Even with his uglyass lamps that everyone else seems to think are beautiful. "Yeah, that’s because you don’t have to look at them each day," I think but do not say to these people. I’m doing a lot more of that, thinking without speaking. You wouldn’t know it though, listening to me go on.