Part I – In the Beginning
What a lovely evening we had together! We went out dancing for the first time in over three years. Now that Katie is a little older, we don’t have to worry about finding a sitter. She can finally stay home by herself! My husband and I have been taking full advantage of that over the last few weeks.
It may seem odd, but we never realized that our daughter, being in junior high, no longer needed us to find someone to watch her. We both got used to either bringing her with or finding someone to take care of her. I love my daughter, but it is essential to a marriage to have time alone together. Last week we went to a play, which was something else we never did together as a couple.
Anyway, dancing last night was so wonderful. Neither one of us is very good at it, but that made it all the more fun for me. We got back about 9:00 PM, and we were both overheated from the exercise, so Gerald suggested we sit out on the porch and eat ice cream.
It took us over an hour to devour our bowls of ice cream, we spent most of that time talking and laughing at our inability to dance. Then we talked about our jobs. I’m getting swamped with more and more new projects from my boss. Guess that is the price to pay for being a high-level accountant. I like my job, but it gets to be too much sometimes. I need more time with Gerald and Katie.
Gerald works in IT. At least I mostly enjoy my job, but Gerald no longer seems to like his much anymore. Whenever work comes up, he hardly ever mentions anything positive. He typically goes off on how annoying people are with computers. He recounted yesterday that he had to sit on the phone for three hours trying to help a woman power up her computer. I thought it was a little funny, but Gerald didn't find any humor in it. I suppose if in a similar situation, I would get frustrated too.
After we talked, I wanted to go to bed. It was way past when we normally turn in as it was. Gerald wanted to stay up and read, but after a few pages, he started to gush about this new sword he found online. I told him he didn’t need any more swords, as we don't have much room for them, but that didn't seem to deter him. He just kept talking about how cool the design was. I honestly don't remember many of the details because it got boring, but I pretended to listen until I fell asleep. I love my husband dearly, but there is only so long I can listen to his rambling about swords. He probably talked a little bit about the fantasy book he was reading, but that was around when I stopped paying attention.
After work today, Gerald asked me if I wanted to go out again. I told him I would rather stay home and snuggle up together on the couch. He looked a little disappointed but didn’t say anything about it. I said if it would make him happy, he could choose a movie. That certainly got his attention, and it did not take Gerald long to pick out the movie. I rolled my eyes and pecked him on the cheek when he handed me the DVD. He is so cute and predictable. Gerald picked out a sword and sorcery film that he has watched probably a hundred times. The movie was made about twenty years ago, and is pretty cheesy. It is about a knight leading an army against an evil king that stole the princess of the land. I usually laugh while we watch it, but Gerald didn’t take his eyes off the screen during the whole two-hour runtime. Whenever I got up to go to the bathroom or get something to eat, Gerald didn’t seem to notice. He hardly moved the whole time! I never knew anyone who can get that absorbed in a movie. Katie thinks the movie is stupid, but she watched with us for a little bit. She rolled her eyes during a few of the parts, like when the knight killed a dragon, and she said something about it being pretty lame. I do have to admit that the dragon was bad CGI, and I’m honestly surprised Gerald can take it so seriously since he works in the field of technology. After less than halfway through the movie, Katie said she was going to go to her friend’s house.
Once the movie was done, Gerald hopped on the computer and looked up swords, knives, daggers, and all sorts of collectable medieval weapons. He was practically drooling as he scrolled through. Oh well, I guess he could have chosen a worse hobby. At least we don’t have a small child around the house anymore, so I don’t worry as much about his collection of sharp objects. When we first met, he was really into action figures, and I think that was much worse! He was a grown man who would go to the toy aisle and get more excited than the children. It was so embarrassing!
It has gotten so hard to figure out what to make for dinner ever since Gerald went vegan. For him, going vegan means he believes in eating only organic rabbit food. I guess it is healthy and all, but I like meat, milk, chocolate, and cheese! When I eat a cookie, he asks me if I realize how bad it is for me. That used to make me feel guilty, but now I just roll my eyes and reply that at least I will die happy. Who could possibly choose to live without bacon? Sure, I don’t eat it a lot, but giving it up completely is absurd! What is even more absurd is that Gerald’s interpretation of being vegan is eating a salad for every meal except breakfast. In the morning, he eats a bowl of fruit instead. He will probably out-live the rest of us, but personally I would rather eat a little meat and not live as long. Is it truly living or simply existing if one must forego bacon, eggs, and pancakes? I would argue the latter. I have been making Katie and myself something different for dinner for the last two weeks. Gerald can have his salads.
I almost forgot to mention, Gerald offered a suggestion for something to do as a couple: LARPing. Before I could even get a word in or ask what it was, Gerald was showing me a website that had foam medieval weapons and armor. He explained LARP stands for “live action role-play.” People basically dress up and pretend to fight with “magic” and fake swords. I casually told him I would have to think about it. I should have known better. When I say “maybe,” Gerald takes it as “yes.” Gerald continued to rattle on about how exciting it would be and how much fun we would have together as a couple. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I thought it sounded embarrassing and dumb. He was super excited, so I figured the least I could do was hear him out. Later, while doing dishes, Gerald looked up more information online like how to get involved and where to buy the best equipment. As I thought about it more, I found that a small part of me acknowledges it could be fun. Honestly, I don’t think anyone truly dislikes dressing up. When we were growing up, we were taught that dress-up is for children, so it became awkward as we got older. I do enjoy fantasy and sci-fi, but not nearly to the extent that my husband does. He comes across like he wants to live in a fantasy world. Sometimes it concerns me, but outside of being quirky, it hasn’t gotten serious … yet. I may be a little interested, but if he hears that, he would get even more excited, and I don’t know if I am interested enough to try it. Especially since the equipment is horribly expensive! There, that would be a great excuse to tell him: we simply cannot afford to go LARPing. I feel bad. I would like to do something that would make him happy, but this is going a little far for me!
I remember when we would take Katie trick-or-treating, Gerald would dress up and beg me to do it too. I reminded him every year that we weren’t kids anymore and that Halloween isn't for adults, but he didn’t care. He always dressed up anyway, and I don't mean he put on some cheap costume from a department store. No, he would spend hundreds of dollars! He would get real chainmail, real swords, real cloaks, … all for a Halloween costume! I didn't complain much because I figured it was once a year, but that is what started his sword collection. I probably could have stopped it before it got to this point, but I love seeing Gerald happy, even if that means we have extra nerdy collectibles around the house. At least he isn't into toys as much anymore, but he still plays a lot of video games, particularly RPGs. He spends ample time with me and Katie and maintains a job, so the video games aren't worth complaining about. They get annoying sometimes, and I don't really understand them, but most of the time they just look boring and repetitive.
It is strange having an extended weekend with Gerald and Katie. That rarely happens, but these days are wonderful when they come along. Today Gerald and Katie hung out at the mall for a couple hours while I stayed home and folded some laundry. When they got back, Gerald was a little off. He is usually very talkative and upbeat, but he seemed quiet, like he didn’t say anything at all, even when I spoke to him or asked him direct questions. He didn’t even grunt or shrug. There was simply no acknowledgement other than his eyes staring at me. It didn’t feel like he was looking at me, but more like through me. His eyes were wide and unblinking, and his eyebrows met in the middle as if he was somewhere between frustration and confusion. To be honest, it frightened me, and after nearly an hour of his silent staring, he went upstairs and took a nap. When he woke up he seemed happy, but he said he had no idea how he got into bed.
Gerald must be coming down with something. I had him call in sick for tomorrow just to be safe. I will keep an eye on it and make sure he doesn’t need to see a doctor. Gerald had to be reminded to spend the rest of the day taking it easy. My husband gets restless quickly, but I snuggled up against him as we watched a couple movies, and that seemed to have helped keep him from getting too antsy.
After his little spell, Gerald appeared to be fine, but I still insisted that he stay home just in case. I worry about him, and I don’t want him to risk driving if he is so sick he doesn’t remember anything. I’m probably just being overprotective, but that is what people do for those they love.
Gerald still seemed to be fine today. I stayed home with him just so he wasn’t alone and bored. He was home from work today only because I asked him to be, and now it seems like it wasn’t necessary. Better safe than sorry, I suppose. It was nice to play board games together and talk about where we would like to go in our careers. There was something else I noticed, though. At lunch, Gerald just picked at his salad, and after a few mouthfuls he started to gag and choke. I rushed over thinking he had something caught in his throat, but when I got to him, he spat it out and mumbled under his breath that it tasted nasty. Before giving any other explanation, Gerald got up and made himself a hot dog! Yes, my vegan husband threw a hot dog in the microwave and slathered it with relish and bacon bits. I haven't seen him do that in quite a while! He downed the hot dog in a minute or two, and I must have looked like a deer in headlights to him because he defensively asked why I was looking at him funny.
I told him I couldn't imagine that he would ever even touch a hot dog again, let alone eat one. He laughed it off and shifted a little. It made me wonder if he was uncomfortable with it but didn't say anything out of fear of being teased more. Anyway, later he wanted to show me how to play a fantasy video game with him. I cannot remember the name, but he said he thought it would be more fun playing with another person, so I decided to give it a try since I told him we couldn't go LARPing. It was a fun game. He played as a werewolf, and I was a knight, but I kept dying over and over. I had trouble trying to figure out how to change the camera angle, and by the time I got it fixed, an enemy would get me.
As with the movie we watched the other night, Gerald was pretty absorbed in the game. He didn't say much other than directing me and getting frustrated every time I died because that meant he got a game over too. I swear he doesn't even blink when he plays video games, and he can play so long he forgets to go to the bathroom and even eat if he is home by himself. I really don’t understand getting that engrossed in something.
It is Friday today! After work, we went out for burgers and then to a movie. And yes, Gerald ordered a burger. He even suggested the place! Of course, he did order a salad on the side instead of fries. Maybe he got tired of eating the same thing? Gerald again acted like it was normal for him to eat meat. I am not sure where this change came from or why he suddenly switched after being so passionately vegan, but it will sure make dinner easier!
Overall, we had a simple evening, but simple is sometimes best, especially after all the years of not going on dates after having Katie! The movie was an action flick about a guy hunted by assassins. It wasn’t horrible, but it definitely didn't hold my interest. I found myself fighting the urge to check my phone, and I hate it when people go on their phones while watching a movie! I feel if someone is going to watch a movie they should watch it, not stare at their phone, but this film was all over the place. It was exciting, and then it forced character development which was boring.
When we got home, Gerald was strangely quiet again like the other day. I asked if something was wrong, but that apparently wasn’t a good idea. He just stared at me, and then without saying anything, he went to bed. Maybe he has some sort of bug that is causing him to act this way.
Gerald wasn’t himself this morning either. I found myself constantly asking if he was okay, but all that appeared to do was annoy him more. He plopped on the couch and started up a video game this morning without even giving me a kiss, which is way out of character for him. Katie sat down next to him and tried to talk with him, but Gerald just ignored her. After a few minutes of that, she sighed loudly and stomped off. What in the world is going on with my husband? Why was he acting this way?
After lunch, something abruptly changed in him and he was chatty again. Katie didn't seem very impressed with her father’s behavior, though. When Gerald’s mood improved, Katie’s soured to the point where she asked him why he suddenly cared about what she had to say. That looked like it took Gerald off guard, but before he could respond, Katie got up and ran to her room.
Gerald asked me what was going on with her, so I told him he didn't treat her very nice this morning. Gerald’s expression told me he had no idea what I was talking about. Things were tense in our home after that. I tried to talk to Katie about it, but she insisted her father didn’t care about her and that she had every right to be upset. I told her that might be true, but he was still her dad, and he hasn’t been feeling well. Katie cocked her head to the side, with one eyebrow raised, which told me exactly how she felt.
Gerald didn’t seem too concerned about it at first. He watched TV for a couple hours, but afterward he asked me if Katie was alright. I told him he hurt her, whether he meant to or not. I could tell by his heavy sighs and sullen eyes that he thought the whole thing was ridiculous, but he did eventually go talk to her.
I didn’t really hear how the conversation went other than my daughter shouting at Gerald at first. After a while, things quieted down, and she seemed happier. I figured it was best that they sort it out without me getting in the way. When Gerald came back after his discussion with Katie, he seemed a bit out of it again. He silently shuffled back over to the TV, turned on some cooking show, and just stared mindlessly at it. I don’t know if he did that to cope with what just happened, or if he still wasn’t feeling well. I’m just hoping tomorrow goes better. I hate drama, especially in the family, but that is to be expected when we have a teenager.
I said it is better that he collects swords than action figures not that long ago, but I’m not so sure anymore. Without telling me, he ordered a $200 fantasy dagger! I saw it hanging on the wall after work. When I asked him about it, he claimed he had told me and that I seemed okay with it. I would have remembered him telling me he was going to spend so much on his collection! At least action figures are cheap. It may have been embarrassing having my husband shop for them, but we could afford them much easier.
I told him to return the dagger immediately, but he said there was no return policy. Ugh, so that blasted thing is now hanging in our room with all the other fantasy clutter he has. Why can’t we be normal and have ordinary things on our walls like pictures. Although I guess he did want a picture: he also ordered a poster of a black dragon perched on a castle, and he hung it in our living room. Ugh, what an eyesore! I think Katie is embarrassed to have her friends over. She hasn’t had anyone come over for more than year now.
I hate arguing with Gerald, though. I don’t like going to bed when we are upset with each other. I like to fix things and make everything better. Eventually, I figured he already ordered the dagger and there was nothing we could do about it due to the vender’s return policy. That doesn’t mean I’m not angry about it, since that is money we could have used toward food or a long overdue trip for me to see the eye doctor. What I learned about being married is that picking my battles is important, and after saying my piece there is no point in repeating it over and over. Gerald knows where I stand. If he does this again, though, I will kill him.
We went out to dinner again, but this time I told him we had to go to a cheaper restaurant due to his overspending on his hobby. Gerald looked disappointed. He wanted to try a new steakhouse that was just built, but he didn’t complain. Yes, now he apparently wants steak. His conversion from vegan to “normal” is not just sudden and unexpected, but Gerald acts like he wasn’t actually a vegan to begin with! And this is just within a matter of days.
Gerald ordered a glass of milk and strawberry pancakes, and I got a shrimp pasta. It was okay. The meal wasn’t the highlight, though; I just enjoyed having time together again. Gerald apologized for ordering the dagger, but swore he thought he talked to me about it. I reinforced that we hadn’t discussed it prior to ordering and that neither of us should order anything unless we talk about it first. He looked like he feels bad about it, and he kept apologizing throughout the evening.
Gerald asked if I thought Katie was alright. He told me he felt bad for what happened, but he said he couldn’t really remember it. He told me his mind has been feeling foggy lately, and it has been getting worse off and on for a few months now. I thought it was just him not getting enough sleep, but he said he has been able to get plenty so he doesn’t think that is the case. I told him it could be serious and he should see a doctor. He agreed and said he has been feeling funny, more than just the fogginess in his mind, and he sometimes loses bits of his memory. Hearing that scares me. Hopefully he doesn’t have a brain tumor or something wrong neurologically.
Right away this morning I called the clinic and made an appointment. They were able to squeeze him in later in the morning. We called into work and said we would be in later. I wanted to be there for him and see if doctor could provide any sort of answers.
The appointment ran late, and it took over an hour just to get in. I suppose I should be grateful we could get in at all today, but honestly it was a total waste of time. The doctor looked him over and couldn’t find anything wrong. He said it didn’t appear to be anything serious, but since my husband doesn’t have any headaches, the doctor wondered if it was just a sinus infection that lingered. He said Gerald’s sinuses seemed inflamed and that even if my husband feels like he is getting enough sleep, the symptoms strongly indicated sleep deprivation.
I’m not convinced, but whatever. The doctor wasn’t alarmed, so maybe I shouldn’t be either. After the appointment, I went to work and found my boss had several more projects for me, so I am now almost a month behind. I have to work this coming weekend to try to catch up a little bit.
It has been nearly a week since Gerald saw the doctor. It is hard to be certain if he has gotten any better or not. When I thought he was on the upswing, he would just stare off into the distance. Yesterday I found him sitting on the couch making guttural noises. I rushed over and called his name a few times, but he didn't answer at first. His eyes were open, but it looked like he was asleep. After shaking him a bit, Gerald abruptly became alert again and asked me where he was and what happened. I said he should be able to tell me. When I told him he didn't look well, Gerald just brushed it off. I couldn’t believe how unconcerned he was, but if he isn't worried I will let it be.
What shocked me the most was not just his nonchalant attitude, but that he acted like it never happened at all. The only thing he seemed to worry about was looking for more swords online. I sighed loudly, hoping to give him the hint that he needs to remember he cannot buy anything. Gerald didn't seem to notice. Katie came over later and saw what her father was looking at. Apparently at that point he had begun looking at LARP stuff. What happened next blew me away. I thought she would have rolled her eyes and say something about how dumb LARPing looked. No, I couldn't have been that lucky. Instead she blurted out, “Hey, that looks kinda cool”
Gerald then gave me the biggest puppy dog eyes. It was adorable, really, and he has been so sick I just couldn't resist. I said we could try it as a family if he finds something more affordable and local. I expected it would’ve taken Gerald some time to locate a place that met those requirements, but I was wrong.
Within just a couple days Gerald managed to find some cheap costumes, which were meant for Halloween. He also located some fake weapons that looked like they were made for children and probably wouldn’t last longer than five minutes. The costumes looked cheesy, and mine hardly covered me. Gerald said that most of the costumes were like that. I’m not sure a “warrior princess” would wear anything like this. It is a simple tunic and short skirt that did not leave much to the imagination, so I wore a tank top and sweat pants underneath. Gerald complained that I was breaking character, but I made it perfectly clear with him that there is no way I’m going out in public looking like that.
Katie’s outfit wasn’t nearly as revealing as mine, but I still asked her to put a tank top underneath. Her outfit was supposed to be a wizard, which mostly comprised of a long blue robe and pointed hat. Gerald’s costume was labeled generically as “fantasy warrior.” He, of course, gets fake armor and a much less revealing outfit. His costume looked the most ridiculous with the plastic breastplate and helmet over an obviously fake leather jerkin. Needless to say, after we were dressed, I seriously regretted my decision to go along with this. Katie was excited, though, and that made it a little better for me. I looked forward to doing something as a family, I just wish it wasn’t LARPing. I looked like an idiot and knew it.
Perhaps my husband and I have a different definition of “local.” It took us over forty-five minutes to get to the place. It was basically a random forest in the middle of nowhere. We registered for a team and found there were only five other members that showed up, so it took another hour for the game to start. It was my family and five other individuals sneaking through the woods and pretending to attack an opposing team of fifteen people with fake magic and department store weapons. The whole thing lasted for two agonizing hours that each felt like decades to me. Gerald obviously had a blast and really got into it. He would pretend to track and even made his voice deeper to match his interpretation of his character.
I think Katie was having second thoughts about her initial excitement too. After about a half hour, she started complaining about how many trees there were and that she couldn’t see anything through them. After a while her complaints moved to all the bugs and how she was going to be itchy for the next month.
Beyond that, there isn’t much to say. There weren’t that many people, so the game was mostly spent sneaking through the woods, but Gerald looked like he thought it was exhilarating. I’m glad he enjoyed it and got to try something he was interested in. That alone makes the experience worthwhile to me, but never again. This is not how I wish to spend my weekends. When I told Gerald that I am done LARPing, his shoulders dropped and face scrunched for a brief second, but he seemed to understand and be grateful that I was willing to try it with him. And I wasn’t able to get ahead on any of my work like I had hoped. Oh well, at least we got time together as a family. That’s more important anyway.
Tonight, was my night to pick the movie. Most often I just let Gerald pick what we watch and do because I want him to be happy and I typically don’t care. I felt different today, though. I wanted something girly and romantic, so I dragged him to a drama/romance movie. Gerald pretended to be open to it, but it was obvious by his loud sigh that he was less than excited by my movie choice. He didn’t complain, but he probably knows that he usually gets to pick the film and decided to just go with it.
The movie we saw was about a country girl who moved to the city and met a guy at a bar while she was attempting to acclimate. It was a movie with a barely-there plot and looked like it was more targeted at someone Katie’s age, but I enjoyed it. I don't care to see it again, but it was a fun change from what we normally see. Gerald picked at his fingernails and looked completely bored during the movie, but he didn't complain. I am grateful for that.
After the film, I let Gerald pick the restaurant, so of course he chose the steak place. He recently got paid, so I agreed to it. I still can't believe how badly he wanted to go to a steakhouse. Why the sudden desire to change his diet, especially after being a vegan apologist for a few years? I asked him about it again today, and he didn't seem to think it was important. He told me that salads everyday were starting to get gross. I could see that, but when he ordered his meal, he didn't get any vegetables on the side! Instead he asked to swap out the veggies for French fries.
I ordered a salad, which appeared to surprise Gerald, but he didn't comment on it. I couldn't let it go, I had to probe my husband for answers. It just didn't make sense because he would preach how unhealthy meat is for the environment and the human body and now he is eating it like he never believed any of that. Gerald said aside from the flavor, his stomach had started to hurt from eating salad so much. He said it felt like his body couldn't digest all those greens as well anymore. I asked him if he was sure it was the vegetables and not something else, but he said he was certain. As soon as he started to eat meat again, his stomach felt better. He also said he has been craving meat much more often.
About midway through our dinner, Gerald brought up that he has been having strange dreams nearly every night about the same thing. As he started recanting the dreams he’s had, his voice dropped and he periodically looked over his shoulder and to the tables next to him. He seemed worried that someone might overhear him. I don’t know why. Even if they did, it was just a dream.
His reoccurring dreams are about a large hairy guy chasing him through a field. At first it sounded funny, and I imagined a burly hillbilly dressed in plaid trying to run after Gerald and getting exhausted. It was clear that Gerald didn’t find any humor in it and that telling me was difficult for him. His voice kept cracking, and he wouldn’t look at me when he spoke. He just stared at his plate and picked at his food. He said sometimes the guy caught him, but sometimes Gerald ran into the forest to hide, only to be found again. He then went on to say that the man did not feel like an ordinary man, and for some reason he is afraid of this man, even when he thinks of the dreams during the day. I didn’t know he was having problems like this. As far as I could tell, Gerald was sleeping soundly at night. Why did it take him so long to tell me about this? He has been having these dreams for a couple weeks now. They clearly disturb him, and I cannot understand why he didn’t tell me sooner.
I asked Gerald about his lapses in memory, and he thinks they have gotten better. Maybe the doctor was right about Gerald just not getting enough sleep. I sure hope that is the case.
After work, Gerald would not stop staring at me! This time, though, he tried to hide it. Every time I looked at him, he would quickly look away or pick up a book from the coffee table. I asked him if he was okay, and he said he was, so I shrugged it off. After dinner, I sat down at my computer to do some work, and out of the corner of my eye, I caught him looking at me. I have no idea what his problem is but he glared at me almost the entire evening! What could I have possibly done that would upset him so suddenly? The looks from my husband were too distracting for me to get much work done, so I decided to write in here instead.
I'm now so far behind that frankly it doesn't matter if I get anything done after work or on the weekend because I will still be behind. That is cynical of me, but it is true. Gerald asked why I'm working from home when I'm salary and not getting paid for it anyway. I told him it is because I'm have a lot of catching up to do. He just snorted and shook his head before going back to his book. Is he mad at me for spending extra time on work? I have responsibilities! I think something else is bothering him. He didn't look like he believed my answer to his question. I don't know why or what he is upset about, but he refused to talk about it. I asked him again if he was feeling alright, but he just nodded and grunted. I thought maybe he needed to get out of the house and have some fun, but when I suggested going somewhere, he didn't answer.
Something is not right. I don't know what it is, but this isn't my Gerald. Whoever this is sitting in the living room is cold, distant, and irritable. He should see the doctor again. Maybe he has depression, or maybe he is still having those dreams he told me about. When I don't get much sleep, I act like he has today. I told him he should see the doctor again because he is acting strange and it worries me, but all he did was snort! I'm completely at a loss. I don't know what to do. All I can do is pray that we get answers and that he gets better soon.