Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guest Blog: Frog Fight by Jessica Inclan

(Dear readers, from time to time I welcome guest blogs from authors. I have not read any of Jessica's books, but I have read this post and really enjoyed it. I will explain more about why I do this in the future--for now, enjoy Jessica's post!)

The truth is—and we know it—real relationships are always harder than romance relationships. And this is true, even if our characters are separated by different worlds, kept apart by angry aliens, as Darl and Claire are in my latest novel Intimate Beings.

Yes, they think that minor difficulty is a problem, but they haven’t lived with each other for years, dealing with the minutiae of modern life. Aliens, shmaliens.

Let me tell you about a real relationship issue. One night as my boyfriend Michael and I were stuck in commuter traffic heading back from the gym, moving toward the Caldecott Tunnel and Oakland, I heard something other than the whir and push off way too many cars trying to funnel into two small lanes. I stopped our conversation and said, "Is that noise frogs?"

Unrolling the car window, we realized that the noise that had beat its way through closed car windows was a chorus of frogs. Hundreds, probably thousands of them on the side of Highway 24. The sound was amazing--guttural amphibians on steroids croaking out slight whiny squeaky croaks. The recent rains must have pooled enough to allow for this wild renegade western town of frogs to pop up.

So we were both as quiet as we could be and despite the highway noise, listened. I turned back to my boyfriend and said, "Can you believe that? Isn't that amazing?"

In the pause, the frog song filled the car. And he said, 'Yeah, if you like frogs."

With that sentence, an evening worth of slightly heated and upset words followed.

That's all it took. Well, more followed, but it started with frogs.

How is it that anyone manages to ever live with another person? Much less sit in a car with someone else for a prolonged period of time, especially a person who doesn’t think frogs are amazing? We are all so vulnerable and prickly, with feelings and issues and soft spots. We should be wearing pillows strapped around our bodies, helmets, and earplugs just to get through the day unscathed by human verbal sally.

Or maybe that's me. Maybe I haven't learned half the lessons I need to. I keep trying, of course, but when the man I love doesn't like frogs?

Are the frogs me? No. Do I really care that he doesn't like frogs? No. But I want him to be enthused about my enthusiasms. I want Michael to accept unequivocally my passions and interests and loves. I want that support, even if it’s for a renegade frog colony. I expect this, we expect this, and I am sure it's unrealistic.

What does he want? He wants me to be a little less touchy. To let him get away with some gaffs now and again. To pay attention to his feelings.

So our discussion went from frogs, to work, to family, to sitting in our living room working on our relationship. Neither of us wants to go the way of our former marriages. We fear the hidden angers that seep under the carpet of everyday life and rot the floorboards. We don’t want resentment and anger and repressed desires to ruin this very special love we’ve found. But how easy it is to not do the work needed. How easy to let all this feeling and hurt go into a room and sulk for years and years until it grows into a giant, a teenager with enormous limbs, pimples, and a big voice.

“I’m leaving home,” the teenager roars. “You just don’t understand me!”

Frogs did not lead to rotting floorboards or pimply, out-of-control teenagers. Instead, we had a glass of wine, watched the rest of The Number 23, which I don't recommend. But the film has a happily ever after ending, to a certain extent, and so does my frog story. The frogs pushed us toward discussion, toward more closeness, even if Michael doesn’t love the sound of their early spring cries, even though I still wish he did.

My advice? When you hear frogs, open the window and listen. They are telling you something, whether you like their song or not.


Lesa said...

Hi Amy,

I awarded you The Bookworm Award on my blog this morning, but don't worry about doing the meme if you don't like them. I understand some people don't like them or have time.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this guest post, Amy. Hmm - you're giving me ideas for MY blog. (smile)

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