My husband and I have been doing a small side project for two years now where we record daily our observations of each other for the whole month of June. At the end of the month, we’re allowed to read each other’s writings, which does not seem to hinder our ability to be honest. Annoyance, anger, doubt, and boredom come across as clear as happiness, admiration, love, lust, and tenderness.
I thought of this project last year when I found myself wondering about his specific impressions of me, and thinking in general about how you can live with someone and know them yet feel strangely hyper aware of your respective “otherness”. I can expect certain things from him and him from me with a fair amount of confidence, but as the journals have already shown, we are never entirely correct in our presumptions. (I use the word ‘correct’ loosely here.)
Aside from that, there’s also just a lot of mundane details your partner is capable of observing, which he or she may never talk to you about, yet nonetheless shape their perception of you. The way that R. does not read signage very well is a small detail I have been around him enough to know. (He has gotten better about it after being burned a few times.) Everyone has these minor, unimportant details, yet they are privileged information. Not too many people get to know about it because they don’t see it. Unless a lot of people live with you, in which case everyone might know that you don’t let anyone wash your silverware at home for fear they won’t do it well enough. But I bet no one really pays attention to the fact that you only clip your toenails outside. Or thinks about why you do it.
No plans for what to do with the material 5, 10, 15 years down the road. At the moment, I like it better that way. Then it can be about the experience. Then it can exist for our benefit. When it feels right, I’ll pull out the archives.