After a month, the grooves, the ins and the outs, have changed a considerable amount. I’ve delved into having a canned response when people ask the inevitable question: “How are things going?” I know what they mean when they ask, because there’s a change in voice when it is asked. My inevitable response is, “It has its up days and down days.” This is an incredibly true thing, for as cliche as it may seem. Every day is ever so slightly different, and one month on, there are interesting variables here and there.
For one, it’s really hard to change the name you’ve given to your significant other, once they aren’t your significant other anymore. Given the current situation, the term “Ex” doesn’t quite work – if this relationship is in a hiatus, then she really isn’t my ex, is she? The syntax of things changes up in instances like this: “I’ll send off a text to my not-wife and see what she thinks” is one of the many examples of things I’ve said in the last month.
One of the worst parts of the first couple of weeks was the slight variations in routine. My schedule varies very little, and most work nights, I get off work at midnight. Around 11 o’clock, without fail, I begin to mentally prepare to go home, think about what I’ll be doing when I get there. When I was in a relationship, this was something that was easy: we would have dinner, watch some television, possibly have sex, and then usually she would go to bed, and I’d spend some time on the internet, catching up on Facebook and news and things like that. However, the dynamic has shifted, and as such, the preparations have as well. During that first chunk of time, even the best day would turn to absolute garbage between 11 o’clock and midnight, and possibly even longer, depending on if I was coming home to actually spend time with my newly-roomate, or if she happened to be in bed already. Even now that I’m used the arrangement, I can’t honestly tell you which version of things was better.
At times, it can feel like I live with a ghost, or that I inhabit the same space with someone who I cannot see. She and I work roughly opposite schedules a good chunk of the time, so I would go decent amounts of time without properly seeing her. I would wake up in the morning, and things would be ever so slightly different around me, despite the fact that nobody happened to be in the house. I would do my daily preparations, and when I would get home from work or whatever it was I was doing, the same thing would have happened: I am alone, and my surroundings are altered. This could easily be said for any couple that works opposing schedules, but there is a strange disconnect involved. I imagine it’s something like (and you must pardon the comparison) the Keanu Reeves movie The Lake House, in which two people inhabit the same space, but not the same time. At times, with no human contact, these things can become disorienting.
The change in daily routine is the biggest thing to get used to. After several years inside a relationship, it’s easy to take things for granted, but the fact of the matter is, even if your routine is exactly the same, the change in dynamic is enough to make your day-to-day life incredibly different. There is something to be said about being able to count on having someone to come home and cuddle with at the end of a shitty day, and who is just as excited for you to be home as you are to be home yourself. Of all of the things I miss, this is probably the one thing I grew to miss the most.
It isn’t all bad. I’ve gotten in a couple disagreements with people where “I need to go home” hasn’t been a good enough excuse. “Things are different now,” they remind me, and they are right. Though it’s a sign of respect that I do let my ex know where I’m going to be if I’m out late, and when I’ll be home, it isn’t necessarily her place to tell me when I need to be home, as it isn’t mine to do the same for her. There is a strangeness to the new-found freedom involved in not being bound by my typical refrain of “My wife wants me home by…”, as though the world is a brand-new playground to be explored.
After the dust has settled, it’s an interesting thing to explore the restraints and freedoms granted by a sudden shift in perspectives. It can be exciting, but also terrifying, to look at a room in a completely different way. We’ll see how that changes in the coming months.