He says, “If you want to stay here and stay home and be a writer, I’ll take care of you.”
I remember his thoughtful presents, the plane tickets he’s paid for. The way he told me, laughing, “Aren’t I supposed to buy you a new handbag for each outfit? That’s what my ex-wife led me to believe.” I’ll take care of you. He means it.
I think about three weeks at an artist residency where we were fed and housed and turned loose in a playground of studios and theatres and labs to make anything we wanted.
I think about my musician friend and I laughing over tea, “What we need is a patron, some rich guy who loves art and loves us and pays our rent.”
I think about my father saying jovially, “A man’s home is his castle,” and less-jovially, “You wanna know the Golden Rule? He who has the gold makes the rules.” I remember him calling from cities with casinos, “I’ll be home Sunday,” my mother’s mouth folding shut.
I think about my aunt re-sewing her own underwear for her daughters, using her grocery money for their dance classes, not asking for more. My mother teaching aerobics in a jazz-cut leotard and ankle warmers, saving a little bit each time. My mother moving into my room when I went to college. My mother getting her real estate license and her divorce papers and the locks changed.
Last month, I Skyped my guy from the artist residency. “I’m almost done with the manuscript I came here to finish,” I told him, “but the last four scenes are going to be painful to write and make me sad, so I keep putting them off. It’s a monster.”
His face shadowed. “So don’t write it. I hate to think of you doing something that makes you unhappy.”
I look at my guy, the first man I have let take care of me, the first man with whom I can relax, with whom not everything is my job. This is my prince in shining armor, the man who would build me a castle, clothe me in gold. This man wants me to be happy, to have happy thoughts, to never wrestle with monsters. He will put up a wall against the darkness, against the urgency and hunger of write to eat, write to eat, now you must write to eat. He will cocoon me in safety, keep away the dark creatures eating me from inside until expelled in words.
“You don’t even have to publish. Just tell me if you need money.”
Money is a stone wall. I do not know how a grant and a patron and a husband are different from each other. If they are different from each other. What it would be like to have 'grocery money' or 'clothes money' or an 'allowance.' If obligation, write to earn your keep, will crush the hand that holds the pen.
“I’ll let you know,” I say, meaning, no thank you, and I push with all my strength on the windlass while the drawbridge rises up to meet me, protect me, pushing it back down to let the monsters in.
whipchick now wears makeup to bed.