One of my favorite musicals of all time is Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years. It chronicles a couple’s (Jamie and Kathy) five year relationship. The man starts his story from the beginning and the woman starts hers from the end, they meet in the middle and sing about their marriage. It is funny, and honest, and tragic and the rumor is that JRB based it on he and his ex-wife’s failed marriage though I don’t believe he’s ever admitted it.
One of the major problems among many in their relationship is that Jamie is a wildly successful writer and Kathy is a struggling actress.
And a lot of the time I find myself feeling like Kathy. Or teetering on a tightrope, threatening to fall into Kathy-like feelings.
Because the Prof is headed toward major success. Maybe not tomorrow, but someday. That is something I have no doubt of. He works so hard and he is going to be famous. Not like adopt children from Cambodia and get slammed on The Soup famous, but famous in his own right. Maybe “respected greatly in the theater-world.” Or “much sought-after” ya know?
And my dreams are much smaller, and quainter. I want a steady job that I don’t dislike, even though if a fairy could wave a magic wand I would be a director too. I want to be a mother (which I understand is not a small dream, but nobody writes reviews for that sort of thing.) I want to own an entire set of pale blue china and I want to learn to sew awesome Halloween costumes.
In the summer this feeling generally gets worse. The whole jealously and restlessness. Last summer the Prof was in an amazing program called the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. The program is extremely selective and it was an amazing opportunity. His days were long but he was with amazing people from all over the world doing the thing he loved most all day and living it up all night.
And there were many nights when our phone conversations were shorter either out of exhaustion, or the fact that he was on his way to the bar to hang out with people from the directors lab. I was so frustrated with my life. He’d call and tell me his elaborate stories from his day and I’d be like “Ummm I made M a peanut-butter sandwich and watched the damn Care Bears movie 25 times.”
And its hard for me not to feel resentful, which is my own problem.
I don’t wanna be a Kathy!
The other night the Prof and I talked very briefly on the phone. He told me was exhausted and much to my disappointment we hung up after about 20 minutes. The next day he called and said how tired he was, he had ended up hanging out with friends until 5:30 am.
I got really hurt. I can totally understand how it happened. I can. He had the intention of going to bed but friends wanted to do fun things. And yeah sometimes fun things can be *gasp* more fun than listening to me drone on about what I ate for lunch that day. But still. “He could have been on the phone with me” I lamented.
I mean that isn’t that far off base right? He hung up after a short amount of time with me and though he was “exhausted” he somehow found energy to stay up with his friends.
Later when we were discussing it he said “Sweetheart, you realize I’m probably never going to see any of these people again right?”
And that’s true. That was the argument last summer when he was at the Lab. And it’s true.
And I can’t be a Kathy. I can’t resent his success, and I can’t keep him from having these wonderful experiences and I can’t be jealous.
“These past couple days have been hard, I was so used to at least talking to you for many hours every day. It made not being able to SEE you or TOUCH you every day a lot easier. I’m feeling resentful and I wish I weren’t. I think a lot of it has to do with me being bored and miserable at home. It’s not going to be easy for me, those weeks you’re in New York. I know you’re going to try your best and its unfair of me to ask or want anything more. It’s just hard. I kind of hate it. I hate that I think about you all day and then when we do get to finally talk at night sometimes you don’t live up to what I’ve been dreaming of all day. Which isn’t your fault but entirely my own.”
– an excerpt from my private journal, last summer.
Same shit, different summer.