Friday, April 23, 2010

Elephants in tiny firetrap apartments

Scene: After dinner on a weeknight. I am laying on the floor in our living room. T is on the couch. The elephant is chilling in my grandma's green chair. We have decided to Talk About It.
It seemed (has seemed for a while now) like one of those issues that we just don't see the same way. I feel completely misunderstood. He feels villanized. The elephant is starting to actually believe that noone sees him. We go round and round and always end up more miserable than we began. How do we change this dynamic?

As T says, we're a good team. We haven't shied away from making some big, tough, decisions in the past. There have been times of sacrifice for both of us. Times when the choice was to either compromise on something big, or say goodbye. Together we've defeated some pretty scary monsters, so why is this pesky, gentle (kind of cute) elephant so hard to get rid of?

Back to the scene. I've made the opening volley and T has returned:

JE: "So, do you want to Talk About It?"
T: "Sure. Let's do it."
JE: "What happened?"
T: "I just feel..." and then we're off.

T and I have complementary strengths. My strength is in planning, seeing the big picture, being unfazed by the red tape and fearlessly charging ahead. I've got an "it'll all work out...and if it doesn't, we'll deal" attitude. That's what allowed me to travel the Americas while I was madly in love with a sophmore in college. It's what put me back in school at 27, the time when (I always thought) you're supposed to be On Your Way, not Making a Major Detour. I'm a leaper.

T's strength is in the details. He knows that if you leave the house without your tickets, you're not getting into the dance. While I'm dreaming up how we're going to use our fat tax refund to achieve our financial goals, he's the one actually filing the taxes. He's been a successful small business owner for over 7 years - and that requires a lot of organization and meticulousness. If he didn't have his act together, his vendors wouldn't get paid, his customers wouldn't get their orders and what little we have would probably belong to the government. T is a builder.

Of course, both of our strengths come with downsides that have the potential to be our fatal flaws. They're obvious, right? I forget to look before I leap. (Or read the sign before I park... hence many $40 parking tickets.) T sometimes waits too long to leap. (Or can't decide whether to take a Friday off work... hence paying last-minute prices on a ticket to Denver.) And since we've been doing this for a while now, it's pretty easy for me to spot T's weaknesses, and for him to spot mine. It's maybe a little harder for us to spot our own.

So we've got this elephant we need to get out of the room. And T wants to take its measurements and think about whether the downstairs neighbors are going to be disturbed by the sound of a 2-ton animal clomping around our apartment. And I'm all, "We gotta get this thing out, NOW!" Ready to shove the damn thing through the window, even though he won't fit and would fall three stories to the concrete, hurt himself and most likely take out the front wall to our apartment in the process. T reminds me that we don't HATE this elephant, we want to be gentle, plus we need to recover our security deposit. And I remind him that a giant elephant in the middle of the room makes it hard to see the TV, not to mention our lease says we're only allowed one (1) animal in the apartment.

(to be continued... I'm late for my last class of 2L year)

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