This was one of those weekends when I'm really glad that my partner and I each have our own consuming passions. Some people might call these activities of ours "hobbies," but we know they are so very much more than that. Basically, if I subtract the hours we spent sleeping, then probably we've seen each other for at most 9 hours since early Friday morning. It's Sunday evening and it's just me, Mr Burns and the crickets in the house. I don't expect Joe home for hours, even if it is a school night.
Not every weekend is like this. We have had a good stretch of weekends with plenty of together time: harvesting honey, working our micro-farm, going to the movies, hanging out and doing nothing. But it's not unusual for us to spend a lot of time apart on the weekends, each of us deep into our own interest, investing hours into cultivating our abilities in separate realms.
Except for the fact that I hardly saw my husband, I had a super-wow weekend. I was in an amazing workshop all weekend that blew my mind. I did hours and hours of yoga, hung out with my friends, laughed, thought big thoughts and was generally a little bliss-drunk, like a pollen-heavy bee just buzzing around. I am still filled to the brim with impressions, with pages and pages of notes to go through and muscles reminding me of how much I used them.
It's probably not dissimilar from how Joe is feeling right about now. I imagine he, too, is very aware of how much he used his legs this weekend, what muscles he used mountain biking that the road bike doesn't require as much. Twenty minutes away, in a room full of people that doesn't include me, I imagine he is feeling this same feeling of physical contentment from using his body well all weekend, and laughing with his friends and enjoying the last bit of the weekend.
I'm relishing my quiet house, Mr Burns dreaming his puppy dreams on the couch while the gecko's crickets make their music.
This having of your own passion is, in my little opinion, a major key to a successful long-term relationship. It is so important for each person to have something they're wild about, something they do with their own set of friends, something that draws on the deepest part of them and allows for its expression. And let's be honest: if Joe didn't have this passion for his bicycle -- i.e., if he didn't have a "hobby" that took 8 hours on Friday (century + travel time + hang-out time), a couple of hours yesterday, and all day today (mountain bike ride + Biketoberfest + watching the World Road Championships with his team this evening), then I'd probably feel a lot less free to pursue my own heart's desire in the form of hours and hours of yoga, away from home.
Plus there's something about the sport that so suits him. Something that he needs. When he's had moments -- and there have been some -- when he's talked about hanging up the bike, I bite my tongue and wait. He needs this. For all its dangers, it's more Good for him than it's ever been Bad.
There are some wives who complain about being Bike Widows. I can see their point. If you looked forward to the weekend as a time to spend lots and lots of time with your partner only to have him or her gone for hours on end, that would be a drag. I've always had my own interests, but have definitely had those times when I was a little pissed off about waiting for him to come home. But ever since we had a couple of real-life run-ins with almost-death -- cancer, a really bad crash -- I can't use the word Widow lightly. Even when I'm not busy with yoga, I am more than happy for Joe to be on his bike, being healthy, being strong, doing what he does, contesting the sprints and winning them. What a precious thing indeed to have a body that functions, lungs that can power those muscles, feet that can turn the pedals. Precious.
Still, this separateness sometimes feels a little perilous. After a weekend away with my friends and teachers in Tantric Philosophy Land, I feel like a stranger in a strange land a little bit. My head is full of ideas and thoughts and sudden flashes of insight that are hard to share without the full context. I know that sometimes my excited yoga-chatter is just so much bla-bla-bla, in the same way that sometimes I zone out completely when a portion of that day's ride is being re-told.
The challenge is always in being separate enough and still together, like enough yet different enough, bound together loosely but bound together still, the knot holding fast.
I'm alone here with Mr Burns and the crickets and feeling happy. I miss Joe and I know that he is better for being where he is right now, doing his own thing just as I am doing mine. And when he's back, that'll be great, too. We'll be happy to be together, each of us deeply satisfied both with our own lives and the one we make together.