Today is 16 years from the day I met David, though I don't know if we met so much as we were just in a conference room at the same time (it was several months before we had an actual conversation). I'm sure there were introductions. I don't remember my corporate years well, but I remember introductions being kind of a standard thing. What I remember of that particular meeting is not much as I spent most of it trying to see around the person sitting between me and David. He was ridiculously handsome, like the kind of handsome that made me blush. I remember checking for a ring, hoping he wasn't married, or that if he was married, he wasn't super moral about it. If, in the universe's grand design, David had turned out to be a cheating bastard, I would kind of deserve that. The thing is, I've been thinking a lot about relationships and the differences between what we need and want and deserve. (I've been thinking about it in my work, really, trying to crack a project.) And one of the things I keep coming back to is how much of this gets set up in childhood.
I am the youngest in my family, by a lot (or what seemed like a lot when I was little). My relationship skill set includes "getting a lot of attention" but does not include "actually relating to anyone else." I'm good at showing up, but I have to work really, really hard at being present. I used to think this was mostly a writer thing, like it's hard for me to be present for you because I'm super busy with the people in my head. It may be more that the first formative decade of my life was spent making people watch me play Barbies (so long as they never touched the Barbies, and preferably, didn't try to look me straight in the eye).
Looking back through really all of the characters I've played with, they're struggling with connection, so this is definitely something that informs my work. But I think even more significantly, it's something that makes the work I do possible. I talk to a lot of writers, especially women, who struggle to carve out literal and psychic space to write. This isn't a problem that I have. When I am deep in a project, really deep in it, I just don't come up for air. It is really a happy accident that I've ended up with someone willing to do most of the day-to-day heavy lifting. I am amazing at the more fun, performative aspects of family life--celebrations, holidays, various memory-making things, but months, possibly years could go by without me remembering to ask if anyone has bothered to brush their teeth.