Shared space and intimacy

Rob is coming home tomorrow. He’s been in Anchorage for the past few weeks for a combination of work and training. We’ve rarely been apart this long, and I’m ready to have him be a physical presence in my life again, not just a voice on the phone or a text message or email.

I’ve spent too many evenings and weekends home alone in recent months. When I’m home alone, dinner is usually a bowl of cereal or the time honored grilled cheese. Sometimes I get adventurous and pick up something from the deli when I’m at the grocery store. As much as I love to cook, I am completely disinterested in cooking for myself. But cooking dinner for the two of us…there’s enjoyment in that. This week I’ve thought about what we’ll have for dinner tomorrow night; over the weekend. We love fruit and cheese, shrimp cocktail, grilled salmon, roasted squash, caprese salad…I make my list for the grocery, remember to list the hot Thai peppers that Rob loves, tomato juice, egg beaters for his omelettes, the special cheese we both like. Usually we shop together and that’s a shared pleasure, but he has a long flight tomorrow so I’ll have at least the makings of dinner on hand so we don’t have that chore to do right away.

When he’s out of town, the dogs and I take over his favorite chair and I even sleep in a different room. Our king size bed is too big for me by myself, too empty. I move downstairs to the bedroom on the main floor and feel less alone at night in the smaller space. The dogs try to go upstairs to bed; I have to call them down to the room on the main floor. They’re confused by the change: why would I sleep in a different place?

I’ve thought a lot about shared space and intimacy in recent months. Two people can share a space and have little intimacy; or, every detail can suggest intimacy between the two. When Rob is home we have a familiar routine: we’re up early, and on weekdays, he has usually tuned in the market by the opening bell at 5:30. We begin the day with something warm, and then a couple of hours later have a leisurely breakfast. We sit in front of the windows in the sun room and watch the morning activity on the water, the fog lifting, the first jets of the day coming in to land at the airport across the Tongass Narrows.

We talk, discuss, share. Some days are about errands, some are slow and lazy. Some days we work out at the local rec center, sometimes go for a drive or walk down to one of the local beaches. Always there’s the question of what to do for dinner. We don’t cook together…we cook in sync. I put seasonings on meat or fish; he grills. I steam crab legs, he cracks the shells and takes the meat out for both of us. He chooses music to go with dinner, lights a candle for the table, I put the finishing touches on the meal.  Movie after dinner? Or sometimes he watches a foodie show with me.

There is a rhythm to our life that comes from long knowledge of each other. I know his pace and he knows mine. After 29 years together, does that make us dull, or intimate? I know what I think. It’s a sweet and comforting knowledge of this person who has been my partner through thick and thin, through good and bad, through all the cliches and the moments of magic. I’m looking foward to moving back upstairs tomorrow night, to having a dinner companion again, a movie buddy, my friend, my husband. I’m looking forward to sharing my space again.

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