“So do you want to go out to breakfast?” Michael asked me one Saturday morning a few years ago. I paused. I had just gotten back from my morning walk. It was 9:30 am.I thought about all the things I had planned to do. If we went out to breakfast, we wouldn’t be back until 11. I’m a morning person. I like to get things done in the mornings. But this is my husband. Who likes to relax on weekend mornings. “So I guess that means no,” Michael said, interrupting my thoughts.
“I didn’t say anything yet!” I said.
“But you didn’t say yes.”
“I was thinking.”
“Thinking? It was a simple question. What do you have to think about?”
“Do you really want to know?” I asked him. He gave me one of those looks that he gives me when I ask if he wants to hear about the dream I had last night. The look that says, “Not really, but I think you’re going to tell me.” So I told him my whole thought process. He stared at me wide-eyed as I went on and on, then he laughed. “So you were processing,” he said.
“Yes. Processing. That’s a good word for it.”
Michael is a quick learner. From that point forward, whenever he asked a seemingly simple question and I didn’t respond immediately, he would say, “Processing,” as if to remind himself that he should wait before assuming my answer was no.
So when, eight weeks ago, Michael said, “I think we should decide soon if we want to go to Barbados,” I told him I’d think about it and let him know in two days. Then he told me how much we could rent our house out for. “Okay,” I said. “Let’s go.”
A few minutes later we started discussing when we should go. “Now don’t get all huffy when I tell you this, okay?” he said. “Okay. . . ” I said, waiting for the next bombshell. “I think we should leave in 2 weeks,” he said.
I stared at him, my mouth agape, my mind racing. Two weeks? Is he nuts? Does he realize we actually need to move all our stuff out of house in order to rent it out? And I have friends to say goodbye to! Two weeks? I need at least four!
“Processing,” he said.
Indeed I was. I was thinking of that scene in When Harry Met Sally where Harry is explaining to Sally one of the questions he has in his head after sleeping with a woman: “How long do I have to lie here and hold her before I can get up and go home. Is thirty seconds enough?” He asks Sally, “How long do you want to be held afterwards? All night, right? See there’s your problem, somewhere between thirty seconds and all night is your problem.”
Somewhere between two and four weeks was our problem.
“We don’t have to go at the same time,” Michael said to me. This was not unusual. Michael and I had traveled without each other many times in our seven year relationship.
We resumed our conversation the next day. “I can’t go in two weeks,” I told him. “Maybe three. But two? No way.”
“I feel like if we put it off one week, one week will turn into two, then three, then we’ll never go,” Michael said.
“I’m ready, hon. I’m going. But I just can’t do this in two weeks. If you want to go in two weeks, whatever.”
I thought we’d continue this conversation in the coming days. But Michael took my words literally. Specifically, the part where I gave him permission to go without me.
And so it was that just 24 hours after we decided to go to Barbados, Michael booked his flight. He was leaving in two weeks. But me? I wasn’t ready. Yet.