The past few days, I’ve been a sounding board for a friend who is trying to decide between a guy she really likes, who’s across the country, and a guy who’s here and willing to mess around with her, but who remains technically just a friend. Every time I talk to her, I get word of the latest email from the far-away guy, the latest conversation with the local guy, her latest internal struggle between wanting to have cake and wanting to eat cake.
“What’s new with you?” she asked me in the middle of one of these conversations the other night.
With me? I thought. Nothing is new with me. I’m boring.
It reminded me of one of my favorite poems, “Being Boring,” by one of my favorite poets, Wendy Cope:
If you ask me ‘What’s new?’, I have nothing to say
Except that the garden is growing.
I had a slight cold but it’s better today.
I’m content with the way things are going.
Yes, he is the same as he usually is,
Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
I get on with my work. He gets on with his.
I know this is all very boring.
There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
Tears and passion-I’ve used up a tankful.
No news is good news, and long may it last,
If nothing much happens, I’m thankful.
A happier cabbage you never did see,
My vegetable spirits are soaring.
If you’re after excitement, steer well clear of me.
I want to go on being boring.
I don’t go to parties. Well, what are they for,
If you don’t need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.
Someone to stay home with was all my desire
And, now that I’ve found a safe mooring,
I’ve just one ambition in life: I aspire
To go on and on being boring.
I first read this poem while I was living in Wales with my ex – a time when my life was boring in every sense of the word. I took comfort in it then, because it reminded me of the good aspects of a boring life, namely the lack of the sort of drama and indecision my friend is dealing with now. But I wasn’t really happy being boring with my ex, so much as I was just bored.
Things are different now. This time, the poem didn’t give me comfort; it made me feel comfortable. And lucky. The side of me that rejoices in relationship drama can rejoice in other people’s (thanks, friend), while I can happily go to bed every night, knowing that Doug will be in after just a few minutes, after he brushes his teeth and feeds the rabbits.
He gets into bed every night by climbing over me – even though there’s an open walkway around the foot of the bed to get to his side. It’s just one of our boring, happy couple rituals – instead of a goodnight kiss, I get a 180-pound goodnight “smash.” I love it.
Last night, for whatever reason, I was feeling insecure, so I stopped him mid-climb to beg, “Don’t leave me!”
“Why would I leave?” he asked, confused. “I just got here.”
“No, I mean don’t leave. Don’t stop loving me and run off with someone else.”
“I would never do that. You’re the most gorgeous woman in the world. Why would I ever want to stop looking at you?”
This morning, I was at my esthetician-friend Tara’s salon, getting some waxing taken care of. As she was carefully shaping my eyebrows, she asked me what I was planning on doing after my appointment.
“I might go meet Doug for coffee before I head into work,” I told her. “He’s on a bike ride.”
“That’ll be nice,” she said.
We went back to talking about… Who knows? Mutual friends’ lives, the detox Tara did last month, my writing. There was a girl trying on dresses, trying to find something to wear on Valentines Day.* (“But it has to be something I’ll wear again,” she insisted, which is so not how I choose my dresses.) Tara’s tiny dog, Minnie, was intermittently scratching at my ankles, looking to be picked up.
Then I became aware of another conversation going on in the boutique, somewhere behind the chair I was sitting in. Two women – both pregnant – comparing symptoms.
Six months ago, this would have killed me. Six months ago, it would have felt like just my luck that there be not one, but two pregnant women in the same place at the same time as I was. This morning, though, my reaction wasn’t so much to actively panic as it was to contemplate what my six-months-old reaction would have been.
Still, I noticed that Tara was aware of the women too, and the fact that their chosen subject is a potentially sensitive one for me. She offered to put a little powder on me, to cover the redness the wax had left, and I accepted. But she didn’t stop there. She also gave me blush (which I never wear) and a shimmery rose lipgloss.
“Beautiful, darling,” she said, handing me the mirror. “Now you have to go meet up with Doug for sure.”
In other words: “Beautiful, darling. You are beautiful; your relationship is beautiful; your life is beautiful, just as it is.”
And I agree.
*For my blog friends: I want to see who I’m talking to. I demand full visual disclosure on Valentine’s Day. A wedding picture from those who are married, any favorite picture from those who are not. I’ll play too, promise.