“Only in books can you be married to them all.” –James Salter
At a party, a woman tells me how she has decided my husband is a saint, and I’d better never ever complain about him. I say, “Huh? What do you mean by that?”
“He puts up with your craziness; he cooks you dinner.” She sniffs. “And, you said he even does his own laundry. You can sit there and write all the live-long day and never have to worry about your husband yelling for his dinner and a clean pair of underdrawers.” She glares at me, dares me to deny.
I’ve heard this before. It doesn’t stop me from rolling my eyes. “Well, you live with him and then see if you still think he’s a saint. No one is a saint. Maybe I have my good points, too . . . huhn.” I sniff, just a little. “Maybe he thinks I’m . . . I’m . . . all that and then some.” I take a hah-uuuge bite of cheesecake, to stop any other words from spilling out. I know it’s true; GMR cooks, he does his own laundry, and he is self-sufficient in a way some spouses are
not, if what I hear about some spouses is true. I know he puts up with my . . . ways.
Besides, harumph, I can cook; I just choose not to. Truth is: I become dazed and restless and remote and strange, and therefore food at times becomes only something to sustain me so I will not shrivel up from hunger. And, okay, I admit it: I am ashamed to say, I sometimes treat marriage the way I treat food: I can relate conversation; I just choose not to. I become dazed and restless and remote and strange, and therefore GMR at times becomes someone to sustain me so I will not be unloved.
And, GMR has competition for my affections: All the stuff in my pea-head. He competes with the crowd of “people” swirling around me like worrisome, but invisible (to him), gnats. It’s not just my characters I can look inward to, but all of You out there.
I can ignore the real world around me for long enough almost to lose who is important to me—my family, my friends, my town. Yet, even as I write that, I know how I need all of You to be important to me. But even more, I want to Me to be important to You. A long-term relationship. A marriage bond between writer and reader, between editor and writer. A contract. An understanding. A promise.
We need each other, don’t we? We are important to each other, aren’t we? We can’t live without each other, can we? Tell me you love Me and I will show you I love You by offering you what I offer best: My words, the love between the covers of my books, my care in reading your stories you submit to Rose & Thorn Journal. It is a marriage weaved together with words and promises of more words. We stand before the alter of Language and Literature, and we brace ourselves against the years, and we give and give and take and take, give and take. A love that never dies, even in the lean and hard and mean years. Not even until death do us part—for written words never die.
[And even as I post this here, I know I will be ‘leaving’ again- ‘leaving’ GMR, but even ‘leaving’ all of You for a while, for the latest manuscript calls for my attention. Play time is over. Deadlines are deadlines. My editor can see me here and lift an eyebrow, “Kathryn IS writing isn’t she? hmmmmm. . .” I have to kick out some of the crowd in my head and leave only the world of Virginia Kate.]
What about you? Is the Real World, the tangible one you can touch & see, at times less real than it maybe should be?