On reading Audrey Niffenegger's Time Travellers Wife I became instantly aware of a parallel between the love affair portrayed in her book and my own relationship with my husband and although, today, my husband has been an integral part of family life and performed his favourite role of helpful husband and loving father, this is not how life is every day. Today he has both spoken to me and sympathised with the debilitating migraine which has tormented me for hours. I know, today, I exist in a world we both share but, as a Time Traveller's Wife, I have grown to accept there are periods throughout our seventeen years of marriage when the situation is completely different and on these occassions my husband will be absent for days.
I am given no indication when and for how long he will be gone in spirit, if not in body. If pressed he would say we have a communication problem but in truth he is simply not here. Oblivious to conversations with him about friends and family he is at best dismissive or disinterested when he is "away", however more often than not he is completely unhearing. Lost in a Walter Mitty existence where he forges ahead with experimental endeavours and moneymaking schemes, he has no idea I am left unacknowledged for days. Noticing nothing about me, our children or our environment, he remains absorbed and silent in thought and when, on his return, he finds me angry at his neglect, he is hurt and confused. Firm in his belief he has not only been present but engaged and communicative of his dreams when in reality he has not.
Perceiving himself to be a craftsman of conversation and annoyed when I cannot follow his fragmented train of thought, he sees only someone finding fault rather than a wife attempting to piece together Time Travelling adventures he has embarked on without her. Knowing himself to be a loving man and the source of much affection, he has no notion I have lived my life in silence for days while he has been frequenting his own separate world alone.
Day in and day out I live with the fear he may be planning to set sail on yet another reckless voyage believing he has my approval. Terrified he might, in the blink of an eye, travel once again to a place where he is confident of his chances of financial success not realising I am neither at his side and nor have I agreed to the trip. The man I married knew I feared debt, yet time travelling provides him the means with which to justify his decision to journey into treacherous debt infested waters. For him, it was a calculated risk taken in a land where his decisions were always good ones and his status as a businessman invincible. I have no doubt, in his mind, I was at his side urging him on, fully aware of all the dangers.
Alone yet again, today and every day I take up arms in my communication battle with his creditors. Isolated by both his absences and his inability to engage with our problems has discouraged me from sharing any facet of my debt fighting crusade with him. Now, I too have a parallel universe in which he plays no part. Fully aware of the dangers of time travel, I have ensured my own feet remain firmly planted in the here an now. I can only hope while I try and make the best of a very bad lot, my husband is not silently planning more business gambles in a land which is completely foreign to me, in a place where I have no wish to be a visitor.