My husband won’t shut up about rockets. For the past few months he’s been designing and printing model rockets on his 3-D printer (because yes, he has one of those), and he is OBSESSED.
“Can I show you my launch pad?” he says, coming at me with a plastic box spewing red and blue wires out the back.
I sigh because this is the fourth time in past few hours that he’s wanted to show me something rocket-related. I know he’s proud of his handiwork and wants to show it to someone, so I say sure. He then goes into a detailed description about all the buttons and wires while my eyes glaze over.
In fact, a normal conversation these days (if you can call this a conversation) might go something like this:
ME: “So I read an article about how to transition your baby out of swaddling.”
HIM: “I finished fiber-glassing my rocket last night.”
ME: “I think she might be going through a growth spurt. She was cranky and eating a lot today.”
HIM: “Now I just need to sand it and get the wireless in my raspberry pi zero working.”
It’s both funny and sad how I can talk of seemingly nothing but our baby these days, and Paul can talk of nothing but his baby, the rocket. Of course, there is one difference: Paul actually cares about our baby, whereas I care not a whit about his rockets.
That’s why I was excited when he found out about a local model rocket club that meets once a month. “Dear god, please go,” I told him. “Please make friends with people who are interested in rockets.”
We were taking the baby on a walk around the block when I said this, and then I added, “I mean, I don’t talk to you about my writing. I talk to other writers about my writing. In fact, I’m going to dinner with a friend in a few days, and we plan to discuss the novel I’m working on because she just finished reading it.”
Paul said he felt bad that he hadn’t read my latest novel.
“It’s really okay,” I told him. “I have writer friends for that exact purpose.” I told him about the time I saw Joyce Carol Oates speak. “She said that her husband never read any of her books, and she liked it that way. They had plenty of things they shared, but her writing wasn’t one of them.”
Paul then apologized for talking excessively about rockets. “But I wish I had friends I could talk to about my interests,” he said, looking forlorn.
I feel bad for him. His interests (theoretical physics, model rockets, extremely sophisticated mathematics, 3-D printing) are ones that not many people share. He sometimes feels isolated and alone in his endeavors. And when he makes an exciting breakthrough, no one is able to appreciate it with him.
Again, this is why I’m really excited for him to go to the rocket club.
I’m also super grateful for the friends I have who share my interests.
For example, I’ve recently started hanging out with other new moms. We’ll meet at each other’s houses and let our babies roll around on the floor while we discuss sleep schedules and cloth diapers. They understand when I show up late, with spit up stains on my shirt, and it’s nice to have some low-key adult interaction during the day. I read somewhere once that there can be nothing lonelier than staying at home with your baby.
But you know what else can be lonely? Writing. It’s inherently a solo venture. Which is why I think it’s so important to have people you can talk talk to about your writing (or talk to about writing in general). People with whom you can work through your ideas. People who will read your first draft. People who can sympathize with you about that rejection letter or that scene that just won’t come together.
I’ve found my writer friends in all sorts of places. Some are from my MFA program. Others are from writing groups I’ve been a part of or writing conferences I’ve attended. One is a high school friend. Another is a college friend who happened upon my blog and contacted me.
Because of these wonderful people, I feel supported in my writing life. I write alone, but I don’t feel isolated, and I know that when I have breakthroughs both big and small, these people will celebrate with me.
I’m really hoping the rocket club can provide at least a little bit of this for Paul. Because there are plenty of things that he and I share, but an interest in rockets is definitely not one of them.