I asked Bear how his day was.
He thought about it for a second. He said, “Somewhat so so.”
Somewhat so so? Is that even a thing? Is that a state of being? The next step down is “Entirely so so.” The next step up is “Partially OK.”
I found this really embarrassing Word document from a long time ago, before I moved to NYC. In it, I’m describing the guy I’m definitely going to meet there. The guy I’m going to marry. The first thing I say about him is that he writes these absolutely lovely songs on guitar. His lyrics are heartfelt, subtle, and clever. They’re about things that matter. His finger picking is impressively accurate.
He is a passionate guy.
My mom always said I needed a passionate guy.
Once I had this dream about a herd of white horses running through a shallow river. I was waiting on the bank. Then a black stallion came tearing down the hill on the other side and splashed mightily up to me, and I jumped on his back. Someone should analyze that dream.
My mom did. She said it meant I needed a passionate man.
My grandma said it meant I should be careful. Very careful.
Bear does not appear to be passionate. When I meet him in the evening, after work, he is wearing a pale blue button down shirt and the same gray pants he always wears, and nice shoes I picked for him from DSW. He appears to be big, calm, and nice. The kind of guy you would never be afraid to talk to.
He almost never has anything exciting to report, because he doesn’t think that things are very exciting, in general. Things are usually “So so.” Or “OK.” Or, at their best, “Pretty good.”
“How was that meeting?” I ask. I know it was a big deal. I can feel it.
“Pretty good,” he says. He thinks about it. He downgrades it, “So so.”
Damn. So it was bad? Or was it good? I’m still not entirely sure.
I am either great or I am probably going to cry soon. Not that I’ll actually cry, but don’t push me. Nothing in my life has ever been so so. It’s all been amazing or pointless, full of potential or infuriating. I always think things will lead to other better things, even when they’re not that great themselves. There’s a corner up ahead, and the things will turn it soon, and on the other side is a wonderland of awesomeness. Or my mind builds, brick by brick, a big, definite wall in front of the corner. There’s a mean-looking guard in a yellowing polyester uniform out in front of it, loudly chewing old gum. He says, “You kidding me? This corner’s off-limits, girl. Get outta here.” He adds, as an afterthought, “And you look like shit.”
So I don’t understand Bear’s mind.
But I like it, because it’s comforting. It’s always even.
My mom and Bear had this big life talk last week, while we were snowed in together. She was asking about life goals, he was giving practical answers. His answers were all about hard work, responsibility, and patience. She said, finally, “What are you passionate about?”
“Kate,” he said, without thinking. “She’s my passion.”
I am the thing that he describes in dramatic terms. “How’s life?” a friend asked him at a lunch, a few months into our relationship. “Amazing!” said Bear. He might have even used that exclamation point. “Incredibly happy. I’m so happy.” The friend and I both laughed. The friend looked at me. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
I don’t know if Bear is a passionate man. I don’t think he is, really. The man knows how to love, that’s for sure. He never doesn’t love. But he’s never going to write me a song on guitar. And I’m still waiting for him to have a “Great!” day. It’s been two years now. He still hasn’t had one. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
“Are you sure it wasn’t great?” I ask him.
He thinks about it. “Yeah, pretty sure. It was OK, though.”
Yes! OK! We’re doing OK.
* * *
Unroast: Today I love the way I look, reclining, with a cat on my stomach.
P.S. Also, I had this crazy dream about being pregnant, and then it turned out I’d just taken some weird medication that made me look pregnant, and it went away. And I was disappointed and relieved. I keep having pregnancy dreams. It’s freaking me out a little.
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