Thursday, December 13, 2012

What's In a Name?

I have never slipped and called Sheldon "Brian," though lately, I've done it in my head a few times.  I'll go to say something to him and I have to mentally make sure that "Brian" doesn't come out of my mouth.  I'm sure part of that is that we have a friend named Brian who spends a lot of time at our house and, indeed, I find I'm more likely to feel the potential for a slip of the tongue when he is around.  It's weird -- I don't think Sheldon would get mad if that came out, and I would say it's actually a complement.  I think I feel the possibility of this happening because the comfort level between us is so great, and because our life together is so "old hat."  Our year-plus of living together has gotten to the point that it feels totally natural, and like something that has just always been the case.  He is very different from Brian, and our relationship is quite different too, but the familiar feeling is the same.  I think feeling that way has caused my brain to circuit into its habits from when I used to feel that way.  Much as Brian and I used to have our routines, so do Sheldon and I.  Just as Brian and I used to have inside jokes, and could communicate our thoughts with a split-second glance, so do Sheldon and I.  We are best friends, we share our thoughts and fears, our judgments and opinions. 

There is a level of comfort, a level of love, a level of "home" that you feel with a partner, and that's where we are.  It's something that takes time to develop, to unfold.  It happens while you brush your teeth together, while you fall asleep intertwined with someone over and over, while you start sharing the same language and meals, while you let your guard down more and more until you don't care if that person catches you picking your nose or hears you singing in the shower.  It is when you stop feeling like people who live together (with cats) and start feeling like one family unit.  This is where we are, and in some ways it takes me back to when I had that before with Brian.  The details of our lives are different, but the feeling is the same.  And sometimes it makes me go on "autopilot" and almost makes me say the old familiar name I spent so many years saying in that context.

I also worry that when I'm older, if I end up suffering from some affliction that confuses my senses, that I will resort back to that name, or that it will come out from time to time.  What if I'm an old woman asking for my husband, Brian?  How will that make Sheldon feel?  I know this -- it wouldn't mean I love him any less, just as my close calls now don't mean that.  In a way, it's like a mother who calls her children by the wrong names (we've all heard some version of this), running through them until she reaches the appropriate name.  It doesn't speak at all to who she loves more (as though there is any competition of the sort!) -- it means she view them similarly, and that talking to one is like talking to another.  She gets the same warm, loving feeling from all her kids, and sometimes the brain and tongue don't work well together to get the correct names and words out.  I feel the same way about Brian and Sheldon.

The name "Brian" is wrapped in love and comfort for me, and stands for a partner and friend.  Sheldon makes me feel all those things, too, and that's where my brain and tongue sometimes get tied up.

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