15 January 2010

Is it Friday?

January for me has been like surfing a wave that, if I ride it properly and stay ahead of will not crash down on me, but rather eject me out on the other side, going quite fast and hopeful sending me into another big wave. However, if I am the least bit timid or I linger, it will crash down on me, swallowing me and my little surfboard whole.

On Monday, Yoko will hit the middle of her mid-thirties. A couple of things occurred to me in thinking about my wife's birthday and what it means for the both of us to have broken the five-finger rule (i.e., don't marry someone +/- 5 years your own age). For Yoko, it means going backwards in some ways, and not being with someone who has built a successful career and is starting to make money and can buy a house, etc. Instead, she finds herself with someone in their mid-twenties, still going to school. And although I sometimes think I am 56, I still behave emotionally like I am 27. I feel sort of guilty about it all, about making everyone in my family sacrifice so that I can sit at a desk with silly books titled Discourse and Identity piled on top of more books called 'Discourse and Identity'. It's all very self indulgent.

Thinking about all of this and finding myself with a bit of money from teaching, I resolved to get Yoko a birthday gift that would somehow speak to my albeit stereotypical and probably sexist husbandly desire to provide her with what she wants and needs, on material as well as emotional levels. The answer, it seemed, was a vacuum cleaner. Not just any vacuum cleaner, but a vacuum cleaner that Yoko has wanted for our whole marriage, one that is made in the UK and is particularly built for dust allergy sufferers. Her parents have one and love it, apparently. I, being still a student and in my student mindset, have been frustrated that the vacuum that we did buy, which was by no means the cheapest and which claimed to help allergy sufferers, was not apparently cutting it. It couldn't be that bad, I was thinking.

I spent the week going back and forth about buying the vacuum, but finally, yesterday, I decided that I would just do it, finances be damned. I went to CostCo and bought the vacuum and brought it home, in one single, thoughtless action. I carried it inside, and when Yoko came out to greet me, there I was standing with the box in my arms. The reaction was what I had intended: Yoko started crying and suddenly I was crying too, standing there with the vacuum in my arms. Yes, it was very expensive, and yes, I would have to work hard to pay for it, but it says what I want to say: I'm sorry this has been so hard and I understand all you've sacrificed to follow my dreams. I hope this in some small way makes up for it.

The vacuum has been nice enough: being 27 and not a dust allergy sufferer myself, I don't quite understand what the big deal is, but Yoko does and happily showed me all the dust it had picked up. The birthday festivities will continue now, with a trip to Oxford Castle tomorrow and some cake with friends on Sunday and something on Monday night, when I get back from Middlesex. I don't think I will be able to top the vacuum cleaner though.