I am a product of the 90’s—I cared for a Tamagotchi, spent hours searching for the hidden images in my Magic Eyes, rocked out to Paula Abdul on my Discman, and most especially, emulated my role model, Barbie. When I grew up and became, well, anything really, because the possibilities were endless—doctor, teacher, rock star—I was going to drive a hot pink Corvette, take the elevator in my dream house up to the rooftop terrace, wear inappropriately tall and sparkly shoes, and, most importantly, have a handsome, caring, and loyal husband by my side.
The reality hasn’t quite lived up to the fantasy—I drive a Honda, live in a ranch, and except for that brief time during college, my choice of footwear doesn’t look like anything designed by Mattel. But at least I got it right in the husband department—although my man is a little bit more lumbersexual than Ken ever was. But he’s good looking (albeit a little on the hairy side), smart, kind, and an amazing father to our two little girls. Except for nine or ten little things (that I have a lifetime to help him fix…), he’s perfect! Who better to go through all the craziness of 2020, than him?
Well, six months quarantined in isolation with the same person (wearing the same pair of gym shorts) day, after day, after day, and I’m starting to realize there may be more than just nine or ten little things. Do you know how many mugs (that he leaves scattered through the house partially filled with coffee) he goes through in a day? I do. Can you guess how often his trash (used tissues, paper towels, and scraps of paper) actually makes it in the garbage can? Not often. And do you have any idea how much time he spends in the bathroom?! A lot.
But all of those things are inconsequential, I told myself. It’s just because we’ve been spending never-ending amounts of time cooped up together in the house. I’m sure there are some things about me that drive him nuts too (although I can’t begin to imagine what they might be). Obviously, we were starting to get on each others’ nerves. Suddenly, we found ourselves bickering over the smallest things—even when we agreed (once, we argued for ten minutes before we realized we were both saying the exact same thing…) Not exactly a recipe for a successful marriage (at least I would assume it’s not; I’m not really one for recipes).
Clearly, marriage is hard. And harder still in times of stress and uncertainty (I’m looking at you, 2020). But every time I think of leaving it all and running away to New Zealand, I remember that underneath the dirty gym shorts and endless mugs of coffee that never seem to make it to the dishwasher, my husband is still the same man I married (besides, my stupid American passport is worthless right now, so I wouldn’t be able to run very far). The man who holds my hand and helps me breathe when I’m overthinking everything. The man who cleans the dog puke off the carpet while I dry-heave in the corner. The man who chases down our preschooler with a toothbrush every evening, so I can have a break. The man who checks out the weird noises I hear in the basement right before we crawl into bed. The man who cooks me eggs, just the way I like, for breakfast in the morning. And the man who pours me a big glass of wine at the end of the day. So I may not be living the perfect Barbie-life I dreamed of, but turns out my version might be better. Even if “Ken” gets on my nerves from time to time.