Monday, September 27, 2010

My Life in Fantasy vs. Reality

Maybe I've seen one too many romantic comedies.  Or read one too many "chick books."  Or maybe I've watched too many sitcoms over the course of my life.  But I have to say that sometimes I have a somewhat skewed vision of the way I think life should go.  "Life" for me, in this instance, implying the stage of life I'm in - which is married with no children.

Even a couple weeks ago when LB sent some pictures of her new place in Chicago, I found myself start to imagine for her what some of these things would be like.  Or I look at pictures of people on Facebook and I think "their lives must be like X."  Or "I bet they do Y."

Overwhelmingly, what I've found is that our young, married life doesn't pan out the same way it does in my head.

Myth 1: After-work time
When I think about a young married couple getting home from work, I see it like this: the husband gets home after the wife, loosening his tie as he walks through the door.  The wife's in the (huge) kitchen, heels off, work clothes untucked.  She's getting stuff ready for dinner.  When husband walks in he kisses her & then either jumps on a cutting board next to her to help with dinner prep, or sits at the kitchen bar and they talk about their day.
I guess in my fantasy world people don't exercise?  But this is how "after-work" pans out in my house: I get home before Jonathan.  So usually by the time he gets home I'm on the treadmill/doing a workout video.  If not, then I'm probably plopped on the couch.  If I'm not on the treadmill, he comes over & says hello, then goes into the other room (either to change out of work clothes/mess around on the internet or get into workout clothes himself).  We don't really talk until we sit down for dinner.  And that works for us.  It came up in our premarital counseling that Jonathan likes to have some time alone at home to disconnect from the office before he jumps into hang out time.  While it's not exactly what I would prefer, I can deal.

Myth 2: Take Out Food
I have this myth that young, married couples eat a lot of takeout.  Sitting on the floor.  By the fireplace.  Wearing cute pajamas.  Snuggling, feeding each other with chop sticks, and drinking wine.
No no.  We don't really eat takeout (although Jonathan is now wishing this myth would pan out in real life).  We never sit on the floor.  Our fireplace doesn't work.  Jonathan doesn't own pajamas.  And if we did get takeout, we'd probably eat it at the table or while watching tv.  And it probably wouldn't be Chinese food.

Myth 3: The Bedroom as a Cool Hangout
I can almost pinpoint this one directly to You've Got Mail, but sometimes I envision our mythical bedroom as a cool hub of the house.  We lay in bed with books all over, laptops, magazines and do stuff (read, play on the computer, peruse magazines) while also engaging in meaningful conversation.  We wear reading glasses.  It's good quality time (also spent in our lovely, comfy pajamas).
We just don't do that.  We read in bed sometimes, but when we do, Jonathan usually has headphones on so we don't chitchat.  I think, though, in my mythical world, we generally have a lot more time than we do in real life.  I can't really imagine myself sitting still long enough (and being comfortable in that) to lay around in bed for hours at a time.  I get too antsy & can't do it.  And again, Jonathan doesn't own pajamas.

Myth 4: After Work Drinks on the Porch
We certainly drink a lot in my mythical world, I guess.  But I see this time of sitting in the porch swing with a drink in hand (maybe while dinner is cooking?) and enjoying the early evening and chitchatting.  Saying hello to neighbors as they walk by, the smell of other people's dinner in the air.
We don't drink a whole lot during the week in real life.  And we exercise, which seems to be a recurring hindrance to my mythical world.  (We also don't get a ton of pedestrian traffic on our street - but that's neither here nor there, really.)

Myth 5: The Early-Morning Hours
We wake up naturally before the sun.  One of us goes to get the newspaper outside while the other starts a pot of coffee.  We drink and read the paper, and then one of us makes breakfast.  We're sitting at an island-type thing on a stool in the kitchen.  The house is silent except for the turning of newspaper pages.  The smell of coffee clings to the robes we're wearing.
This is almost laughable.  I wake up at the last second possible to get to work on time (sometimes later than the last second).  Jonathan gets up with enough time to shower & go (and if he happens to get up earlier, he watches SportsCenter).  Neither of us drink coffee or eat breakfast until we get to work.  We don't get a newspaper.  If I could easily wake up a lot earlier, I'd probably work out in the morning instead of after work.  And the best part of all these fantasies: our kitchen is tiny.  Teeny tiny, itty bitty.  There's no bar, no island, no granite.

Myth 6: After Dinner Walks
After dinner, as the sun begins to set, we head out to walk through the neighborhood and enjoy the night air.  We wave at other families doing the same thing.  We stop and talk with neighbors.  We engage in meaningful conversation
One, midtown Memphis probably isn't the place to walk around in the dark every night.  Two, we like to veg and watch tv or read books.  Three, the reality of being married is that every second you're together is not filled with meaningful conversation.

Do you guys ever have visions of how you think something should go, even if it's never happened that way for you before?  Does your vision involve a kitchen as awesome and open as the one in mine?


Patricia said...

Dude, I think this is retirement. Only 30 more years until your fantasy can come true.

b|rad said...

Great post. I found myself laughing and chuckling through most of it. Since I'm not married or partnered up, I cannot say I have this mythical vs. fantasy debate. Perhaps one day...

Sarah said...

That is so funny. I often find myself doing the same real life vs. fantasy comparison. In my fantasy life I always work out in the morning so I can cook dinner in my untucked work clothes after work. I'm also not in grad school in my fantasy life so my dinners are always beautifully served rather than my normal leftovers out of tupper ware. In my fantasy life I have a lot more dinner parties too.

AmyBethJames said...

I think this is totally true! I remember the first few months Ben and I were married this weird feeling of... this is it? Get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch a little TV or read, go to bed, repeat? And we're supposed to do this... for HOW long?! I think it takes a little time to realize that real life is not how we always fantasized it would be and definitely not how it is in the magical movies! But friendship and our relationships and even the intimacies of our little routines are better than all the fantasies, I think!

Except for the bigger kitchen. The bigger kitchen fantasy is probably just as awesome as we think it would be.