A few days ago I attended a marriage talk with my husband. This is what we married people do. Just like tourists go to gawp at exotic animals in national parks, we go to see and hear from people who’ve been married for decades.
Why? It gives us hope. Anyway! The speakers; a very jovial couple who’ve been married for just over 20 years; shared with us an anecdote from the first ever lockdown in March 2020. A friend of theirs called them in distress, begging them to invite her husband over just so that he could leave the house. According to the distressed friend, her husband had become omnipresent. Everywhere she turned; there he was, popping up like an unsightly pimple and she just couldn’t get away from him.
The worst thing was that he had even started giving his (unsolicited, unwelcome) opinions on how the household was run; how much milk was being consumed, what time people woke up and so on.
Well, it turns out her case was not unique. What this pandemic has revealed is that many of us are married to ghosts. You wake up in the morning and the other side of the bed is empty— but warm. A faint scent of cologne lingers in the air. At the dining table, a half-drunk cup of tea confirms that indeed, someone had breakfast. Outside, if you squat and look closely, you can make out the tread of car tyres on the ground.
When you get back from work, you take a shower, engage with the children, have supper, watch something on TV and then go to bed. At some point, the ghost returns, but you only notice this the next morning when, once again, the other side of the bed is empty but warm.
Imagine the shock, then, after a few years of this arrangement, of coming face-to-face with this ghost, calmly seated at the dining table, reading a newspaper! If it were me I’d first hit it -very hard- to confirm that it was real.
Let’s celebrate all the married ghosts who finally made it home in 2020!