Last night, I was unwittingly swept into an uncomfortable conversation at the film festival opening.
Seeing that Francisco and I are an interracial, bicultural couple, a woman in a similarly arrayed relationship pulled me aside and went on at length about how difficult she finds marriage (generally) and bicultural marriage (specifically). She is Latina, her husband is European, and though they’ve somehow managed to stay together for more than a decade, there are days (and they’re alarmingly frequent) when she just wishes “he’d disappear.” Sometimes, she confessed, she wished he’d go away and never come back. And she just wouldn’t care.
I probably laughed, but I don’t really remember because, secretly, I was horrified and all I could think of was my mother saying, “Many a truth are spoken in jest.” I’m sure the woman was seeking validation– that’s what we’re all always seeking–but I couldn’t relate at all.
For the past five years, Francisco and I have been self-employed, and most days we both work from home. We’re together most of the time, we don’t get bored with each other, and we talk all day long. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company, we make each other laugh, and we generally share similar interests. Where we diverge or have our own projects, we go our own way and are happy to come back home to share about the experiences.
This isn’t to say we don’t annoy each other. We do, and I’m suspicious of couples of any age or any length of time together who claim to have spent every single moment of their union smiling. At least once a week when I’m trying to concentrate on writing, I think, “Could you please be quiet for just a second?” But I’ve never wished Francisco would disappear–temporarily or for good. In fact, he’s been talking about going back to a “real” job–you know, the kind that pays a flat fee every two weeks–because this economy isn’t particularly friendly to private chefs, and I think, “Awww, no way. How will we fit everything into a few hours at the end of the day?”
As I thought about all these things, the woman went on about her kids–she has two–and I wondered where they fit into the equation. How would they feel if their dad disappeared? I don’t know and I didn’t want to ask. I’m just happy that the child we’re bringing into the world will know that I’ve never had the kinds of thoughts this woman shared with me.
And I hope, somehow, that she finds what she’s looking for since she couldn’t find it in me.