When I decided to write every single day for a year, my husband was my biggest cheerleader even though he was inadvertently forced to take on this project with me. Every single day (usually night; minutes shy of midnight), he reads over my autobiographic essays, searching for typos, inconsistencies, and misguided T.M.I., before I hit the blue PUBLISH button.
This project was my Queen Mary and he was its anchor; invisible but keeping the whole project from floating away or outright capsizing.
Did you ever have a good fight with your husband? One of those PMS-intensified blowouts when maybe you call him a baby or lazy or call his mother (or dead grandmother) a cunt? (Not my proudest moment.) Well, I’ve had days like that (at least once a month) and for the last 337 days, no matter how we end our day, I still had to give my husband a vulnerable essay to edit, including this one.
After any of those arguments, he could have gotten back at me with a red pen, but he didn’t. Not once. He didn’t have any interest in making me look bad any more than I had in minimizing how much I loved him on paper. My husband and I had an instant connection and partnership. Our fast-talking, brash, sarcastic styles feed well off each other.
We joke about “taking our show on the road,” kind of like George Burns and Gracie Allen, only my husband is the REAL comedian (OK clown, but seriously, is there a difference?) and I’m his deadpan sidekick. I hope we will evolve into a powerful literary couple in 2017, as we vow to work on our romantic comedy screenplay. Before we know it, we can be like Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne or else like Burt Reynolds and Goldie Haun in Best Friends.
When we went on a two-week Hawaiian vacation, I brought my laptop because my project didn’t take a hiatus and my husband, in turn, didn’t either. Before bed each night, the laptop would be propped up in front of him, and he would be forced to end his day (or disrupt his day) with one of my essays. As much as I love to think of myself as oozing positivity or making the best of things, my instinct is to find flaws and imperfections and think of how things and people can do it differently. I am the life consultant no one hired and I spew my findings without request. Translation: Not always the easiest to live with.
The truth is he IS my dream come true. It is he who forced me to own up to who I was (A WRITER), it is HE who kept holding a mirror up when I would feel confused about who I was and what I was supposed to do, it is still HE who reads every single word I write and makes sure I am coherent and don’t make myself look like too much of an asshole. My husband was there to make dinner, even if it was peanut butter and jelly and ice cream with cereal on the couch after the kids went to bed and my husband made my daughter lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY THIS YEAR. You’d think I was the best wife in the world, speaking of him so profoundly, but he has to wait to read it in words because even though I will never admit it again, I’m a passive-aggressive writer.
I don’t give relationship advice. OK, I do, but I do it subtly. (Not really). My number one healthy relationship must is to SLEEP NAKED (Insert apology here to 14-year-old son who is reading). I’ve been doing it for 23 years and don’t ever plan to stop. My second piece of advice is, give your significant other an autobiographical essay about you to read every single night for a year.
Even science verifies the old adage, “don’t go to bed angry,” and this project has 100% guaranteed it. No matter what either of us feels at the end of the night, the project is bigger than both of us and we honor the year-long commitment. He’s my coach, my cheerleader, my confidant, and always my clown. (And he held other roles which didn’t begin with the letter ‘c’, such as a therapist, lover, best friend, masseuse, photographer, and chauffeur. Crap, that’s another c.)
Obviously, I’ll dedicate my first book to him, but I think *he’s going to want to see some buckeroos to back those hard-earned editing hours. Amiright?
*editor’s note: When Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living,” he didn’t follow it up with, “So make lots of cash.”