When In Doubt, Choose Connection

Last night I was glad Pamela was on a run when I got home from work. Being an introvert and seeing clients all day can be somewhat emotionally taxing. Then I remembered I had to cook dinner, which to you might sound laborious but is usually something I enjoy. Last night I wasn’t feeling it as much though. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays can be a little grueling for me, I work pretty late and come home with a decent amount of compassion fatigue. Home is a reprieve for me, Pamela is the one person I actually enjoy being around at the end of a long therapy day (most of the time). Truth be told, before Pamela moved in, before we were dating, I used to drive up to my house, pull my car in the garage, and say “closing bombay doors” then mutter under my breath that I didn’t want to deal with another human being all day. Just me and my Rhodesian Ridgeback, Bailey, who is content snoring like a freight train right next to me. But now I am married, with another human to consider, and subsequently another dog who doesn’t quite “get” me the same way Bailey does…


Back to last night, I get busy preparing the meal; tonight’s dish, chicken on a bed of roasted fingerling potatoes and carrots baked to perfection in my well-worn, well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Pamela got home, we hug, kiss, and chat for a few minutes. She expresses just  how grateful she is that I have cooked the last couple of nights (like I said, the only human I want to see after a long day of therapisting). Then she poses the question, THE question one of us asks the other every weekday night, the question she asks sarcastically because she knows my answer before she asks it; “What do you want your evening to look like?” Now my standard answer is “some down-time.” An answer that is embarrassingly predictable and, depending on the day, either annoys Pamela or she finds endearing, but never lets it go without giving me some shit. Last night was an endearing kinda night, thank God. I mentioned that my mental and physical level of tired was on the high side of normal. She asked where I wanted to eat; in the living room or the dining table. Now, eating in the living room is a rarity, something saved for special occasions and doesn’t happen on weekday nights often.


And here is the whole point of this blog, my answer, which may shock you, was “no”, I declined. I said “I want to sit in the living room, but I feel like we should sit at the table.” So we did, we sat at the table and talked about her training for the half marathon, we spent a lot of time praising the meal that I had made (which I really did kill, I mean knocked it out of the park). Nothing super special, all conversation that fit my mental capacity for conversation. The point is definitely not to toot my own horn. I suppose it has more to do with separating wants and needs. Life is about meaning and there is no greater place to cultivate meaning than with your significant other. What I wanted was a lot of ice cream and a few episodes of the Grand Tour, what I needed was to look across the table at this amazing woman and connect about our individual worlds and carrots that were so soft and caramelized they would knock your socks off. (I mean, I can’t overstate just how amazing those carrots were…)

-Steven