My husband went off for a “private audience” with his mother, as he calls it, while I stayed behind at the hotel. During the whole time he was gone, I lay on the bed and looked out the window. We always stay at the same old downtown hotel, which is not too near the family. My husband is adamant about this, and I’m discovering why: it’s the key to our visits going smoothly.
The distance, the shuttling back and forth across bridges: these are metaphorical features of social encounters that cast my own identity into sharp relief. Whereas at an earlier period in life, I might have strained to make these differences less, to mitigate them in some way, now, in my second marriage, I am less inclined to. I admire my mother-in-law, for instance, but I shall never be like her. Far more reticent and self-effacing than she, I am powerful in my own way.
If anything, our differences are motivating. The tension affirms my own particularities, galvanizing my desire to be true to myself and calm in the face of differences that would otherwise be unnerving.