Janie: “Nice job, Theresa! Just like that!”
Looking back on my young adult years, it surprised me how slowly the days used to seem to pass. Nights of partying, sure, only to be followed by empty days of avoiding fights and hiding out and planning for my future. But now I was in my future. And it was better than I ever could have imagined.
Janie: “Confidence, yes! That’s what I like to see!”
It was like I had found my groove. There were struggles, sure, but they all paled in the face of my other happinesses.
Janie: “Great meeting, guys! I’ll see you all next week!”
All About Me, initially started so that I could keep partying in a socially appropriate format, was now something entirely different. In between the mundanities of everyday life, it gave me a purpose.
Because, when it came down to it, I loved teaching. And I was good at it!
I don’t know why I hadn’t come up with the idea before. It combined my love of people and my natural charisma with my love of music. And there was nothing better, I found, than seeing others discover a love of music in themselves. Now that I had relaxed that admittance requirements of All About Me, young adults and elders alike were flocking to the group, wanting to learn a new skill or indulge in their love of music. It was strangely fulfilling, to be the leader of a pack of music lovers, all looking to me to teach them.
Brantley: “Thanks a ton, Janie.”
Janie: “Of course! See you next week.”
Even you saw a change in me, B.
B: “Just because you’re happy now doesn’t mean that you should go around making noise all the time.”
You were a little… salty, let’s say. I’ll admit, between the club and my work, you weren’t getting that much attention. But you were a child! You were self-sufficient, you had friends, you had Samuel. You didn’t need me all the time.
Candy, on the other hand… she needed me desperately, just as I needed her. It was a good thing that she was a member of All About Me, really. Otherwise, I would go crazy with how little I saw her.
I had gotten promoted quickly, you see. Incredibly quickly, I realize, looking back on it. I rose through the ranks, getting promoted every two or three months, and was soon Candy’s senior by two or three positions. Candy didn’t mind—she saw a success for me as a success for her, despite the fact that it inhibited her own promotions. But it meant that our hours were vastly different. Candy worked the graveyard shifts from nine at night til one in the morning. I, on the other hand, started work at two and was back by eight or nine each day. It meant that our only time together was in the mornings (though, often, Candy was too tired to interact much then) and during club meetings.
Candy: “What time do you get home from work today?”
Janie: “Not until nine-I have a performance. We’ll do dinner tomorrow though?”
Bless her soul, Candy tried to make it as easy as possible on me. But she was getting in so late at night that she stopped coming to bed altogether.
Our bed, at least. She slept in the guest bedroom downstairs—so that she wouldn’t disturb me, she said.
I wouldn’t have minded if she had disturbed me. I just missed her.
Somewhat surprisingly, missing my wife so much strengthened our relationship, in a way. Not to say that it was better—it 100% wasn’t, I would have been much happier if my wife had been around more often. But, it meant that we went out of our way to express our emotions in little ways, not just in face-to-face interactions and making out and WooHooing.
For instance, instead of replacing the shower when it broke (as I usually did), I tried to repair it myself.
Janie: “Dang it! Ow ow ow!”
Janie: “Oh well. It’ll make Candy happy.”
She hated when I replaced things willy-nilly, especially when money was so tight. So I left her the little gift of my burgeoning handiness skill, hoping to express my love for her even when I couldn’t say it to her face.
She did similar things for me, I found. She would leave small notes for me, stuck to the fridge or the kitchen table. Or she would leave flowers on my bedside table, waiting for me when I got home from work. But the best thing she did?
Janie: “Oh my. Well, don’t you look nice. Not exactly our uniform, but I’m not complaining.”
Candy: “I thought you might like it.”
By the Creator, I adored her. With everything I had.
But there was nothing I could do to change her hours; not right now, at least. I had dreams of maybe, in the future, being more financially stable, maybe we could retire, spend our days in wedded romantic bliss. I dreamt of it, on the nights I spent alone. Imagined the small house we would reside in, in the woods somewhere, nothing but ourselves and maybe a couple of instruments. Peace, at last.
But, before I could make that happen, I had to exhaust the new fulfillment I had found. I had made a commitment to All About Me, and had found joy in the brightness of other’s eyes and the sound of music newly released. It was my new life purpose—it filled a void in my life. And I wasn’t willing to let it go quite yet.