Friday, May 08, 2020

In dependence

The longer a couple is together, the more their lives become intertwined, and they may become quite dependent on one another, all without ever realising it—until it all ends. This has been the biggest thing I’ve come to realise over the past couple months.

Ever since Nigel died, I’ve needed to figure out how to do everything for myself, something that became a much bigger deal when I moved into this house. Technology was the main thing I was worried about because I thought it would be very difficult for me, and that I’d have to learn how to do things—or, at best, relearn them.

Things turned out to be quite a bit different, mostly.

Every time I’ve been faced with a technology problem I’ve eventually solved it. It turns out that I haven’t needed to learn much (yet), nor even re-learn things. Instead, I just needed a bit of a refresher so I could do things I haven’t had to do for decades.

I first realised that things were very different than I expected when I was unpacking boxes of Nigel’s stuff, including from the old garage. “That’s a SATA hard drive,” I said to myself, or “that tool is for putting connectors onto network cables,” or “that box is for VoIP” (Voice Over Internet Protocol, which is where the “landline” is hosted by a company that delivers the connection over the Internet, something we’ve had for years).

Some problems have been harder to overcome than others, but nothing has made me want to give up entirely, which is good because I can’t call in a professional to help until Alert Level 2. By then, I doubt I’ll need any help, unless something totally unexpected comes up, of course.

There’s one thing that’s been on my mind a lot: I wish Nigel had either told me how to do things or, at least, written down notes so I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over again. But, really: Who actually does that? I never did that, either, but in my case there would have been very little that Nigel either needed to know or that he’d have trouble figuring out. That wasn’t just because he was so very clever, though he was, but also because of our division of duties.

Like a lot of couples, he did some things and I did other things. Among the things I did was editing documents for him—grammar, apostrophes, commas, yes, but also wording: Did it say what he meant to say? The more important a document was, the more likely he was to ask me to help him. And if it was a difficult situation, like responding to a difficult and demanding customer, he relied on me to package his response in as non-threatening a way as possible, something that was easier for me because I was an outsider to his work.

Among other interests, Nigel loved technology and was always coming up with new ways to use technology to make our lives better (like the solar powered gate I talked about back in October). He was often changing things so they’d be “better, faster, stronger”, as I sometimes put it to him. He smiled when I said that, with his little cheeky grin that showed me he was in on the joke.

Over the past few years, we had (at least…) five different digital cordless phone sets, most of which were used with our VOIP system, each set replaced as Nigel found ever better solutions. That’s why there was no point him in telling me how he’d set it all up, because he kept changing it. If he’d written down some notes he could have updated them and that would have made things much easier for me, but, like I said, who actually does that?

If I’d had any idea that I could have lost Nigel, let alone so fast, I’d have made it my business to know how everything worked so I could maintain it (and in this case, “it” can mean a lot of things). But I couldn’t know any of that, and I was happy to let Nigel tinker away with stuff as much as he wanted to because it made him happy. He enjoyed it so much, and if I’m honest, I felt it was kind of cute how passionate he got about things that many of us would’ve thought of as boring (like a phone system). Besides, I never knew what I needed to know until I needed to know.

So, here I am, refreshing my memory and updating my knowledge as needed, but not until I need to because technology stuff definitely takes me longer to figure out than it used to—it seems I only have so much room in my head these days, not just because of age, but because of everything.

I’d like to think that Nigel would be proud of how well I’ve done with figuring this stuff out, but as I said in the past, I actually think he’d be more surprised, shocked even. Sure, he knew I was smart enough to figure technology stuff out, but it’d surprise him that I actually did, especially because it meant I was paying attention when he talked about his latest technology passion. But, since I didn’t listen carefully enough (obviously), he’d probably find it surprising that I took in enough for it to help me do stuff. Actually, I’m kind of surprised, too.

There have been several times in recent weeks when I’ve talked to Nigel’s photo. “Why did you have to make things so complicated?” I’d ask him, or maybe, “there’s so damn much I’d like to ask you!” Which is where notes would’ve helped: I’d have a way to actually get my questions answered. And, I should have made notes for him, too, just in case.

But, really: Who actually does that?

I’m now dependent on myself, and I’m still learning how to BE independent. I get through each challenge, but every single day I wish so much that I didn’t have to. Independence, I’ve learned, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But learning a little self-reliance isn’t a bad thing. More people in a couple should probably actually do that.

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

Just yesterday, I was talking to a widow of over a year, whose husband had made the system so complicated, and he was so fussy about her not touching it that she has a TV for which she can't change the channel and a DVD player she can't play. So good for Nigel for trying to explain, and v. good for you.