Surviving a weekend without the man of the house
This past weekend my husband left town and suddenly I found myself feeling like a pioneer. The main difference between my life and that of a pioneer’s is that I am set up with things like brand-new appliances, a toasty warm house, and other conveniences such as running water, electricity and a car.
However, a short time after my husband’s departure I realized just how dependent I am on him. Having him gone for four days with no way to reach him was a problem for me, partially because I am still making the adjustment to living on acreage at our new home, which some readers may recall I wrote about in my last column.
Now I know all the staunch feminists out there who are reading this will cringe and think, “Come on, you’re a capable woman.” And I am. I’m also dependent on my husband for certain things. I, too, have long considered myself a feminist. I even once had a letter to the editor published in Ms. Magazine.
But slowly over the years, my husband and I have gravitated into our different, somewhat sexist roles, which I believe work for us. We seem to take on the jobs that we are individually good at. We make a good team. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to do that well when he is out of town.
The first thing that happened after my husband left town occurred fairly late on a windy night, as I was driving up our driveway. My younger daughter was with me, as we came upon a newly fallen dead tree across the gravel road. I got out of the car and with my headlights shining on the tree trunk, I tried to budge it, to no avail, and then I got back in the car and told my daughter that we should probably just leave the car there and walk the rest of the way up to the house.
“No way, Mom,” my daughter told me. “Let’s try to move it.”
Luckily for me, my younger daughter is a lot like my husband. She’s a worker — a Type-A, full of adrenalin and determination kind of kid. Together we tried to lift it, and it budged a little, to which I told her, “See, it’s too heavy for the two of us.”
“No, it’s not, Mom, let’s try again.”
Well, we did find the strength just then and although we didn’t actually lift it, we dragged it to the side of the road, and we left it there as our hallmark to girl power — to a job taken care of, but not without some thoughts that went something like, “Where the heck is my husband on a night like this?”
I arrived home to a teenager who had managed to ignore about six phone calls except for the ones she had made. The volume on the stereo was cranked way up. Several of the phone messages were in regard to a hazardous waste leak from a piece of equipment that belongs to my husband’s business. It was a problem that sounded serious, especially to the caller, and something I did not feel interested in taking on.
I tend to be only selectively involved in my husband’s business. If it concerns sponsoring a team, feel free to approach me. Lawsuits, hazardous waste spills E I leave all those headaches to my husband (once again, my apologies to the feminists out there). In my defense, asphalt and snow removal are not my line of work.
Then the power went out. OK, how many signs do I need to show me just how dependent I am on my husband? My first thought was that I hoped it came back on before dark, because I did not want to be sitting home as the only adult in a cold house in the wilderness on a ridge top with a few candles, a few flashlights, and my dog who likes to bark at wild animals. Realizing that I lacked important information about the workings of our new house made me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Then the rational side of my brain kicked in and I went about gathering flashlights and batteries, locating the breaker box, and determining that despite continued loud music being played on a stereo by a certain child, no fuse had been blown.
As I write this, the electricity has come back on, but my husband has yet to return home. Thinking of myself as a pioneer may be a poor analogy, but I do feel as if I’m out here in the wilds which requires an extra measure of braveness and self-reliance. I guess it would be more accurate to say that I am simply a modern-day woman who wishes her husband would just come home.
Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since 1981.
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Olympic House was empty but for some maintenance workers and all those ghosts.