Lou’s done with his travel to the west coast. On his last trip back, I met him for a weekend in Las Vegas, since I had to fly out for a meeting in Palo Alto anyway. My mom took care of Anjelica at our house for a couple days. We stayed at the Venetian, and he showed me around to the places he had been before. I felt like he was literally replaying a trip that he had with someone else. Besides gambling, I can’t imagine him doing those things by himself like he claims.

Our house is still not for sale. Lou refuses to list it because then, whomever we buy from will know that we are in a position where we have to buy a house, and we will have no negotiating power in the purchase. Ok, so we can’t sell until we buy. But now, he also refuses to leave the house unattended while we live in temporary housing so I can work, and we can focus on buying. He will not move into the two-bedroom apartment that corporate relocation set up for us. Even worse, he will not agree to let Anjelica move with me and attend the new school we selected for her. It was humiliating to explain the situation, ask for continued temporary housing and weekly travel between Massachusetts and Delaware, and the ability to continue working remotely. They approved it because their options are limited; it would be difficult to replace me right now given the state of the business. I am very good at my job, otherwise they surely would have fired me by now. That would probably make Lou happy. He keeps saying what a mistake this was, and that it would be better if I backed out of this job. Back out and then what?  I don’t have a job to go back to. And even if they took me back, my career future would be shot based on this fiasco.

He really thinks I should quit. I really think he should be able to pick out a house. I don’t understand his actual problem. I do not think he is seeing anyone that he doesn’t want to leave, unless you count his personal trainer at Gold’s Gym. He is addicted to the bodybuilding workouts, diet, and competitions. The competitions are such a big deal, as if he was training for the Olympics. Good thing they test for steroid use, otherwise, I imagine he would be tempted to use something to accelerate growth. Sure, his body looks good, but he spends way too much time on it. In the shower. He calls me in to shave the nether regions he can’t reach. Body hair is removed to show muscle definition. Exactly what definition is between his butt cheeks and who is going to see it?  At the mirror. Constantly checking out his definition from all angles and practicing poses. “Just brush your damn teeth!” I want to belt out. At the gym. Each day has a particular workout, and several hours of personal training each week. At the table. Every morsel is leanly prepared and weighed out to precise servings. The choreography. The performance has to be rehearsed a million and one times daily. The same music plays over and over and over as the moves of his routine are perfected. The final countdown. He has to diet down to carve up for competition, then tan and paint on color and lube to let his glorious body shine under the lights.

Obviously, his obsession makes me a little crazy. The biggest challenge for my part of this isn’t all the cooking, but the constant, relentless need for me to praise, compliment, and admire him, and to be able to notice and comment on the slightest changes and improvements. It’s as if he is a little child relentlessly squealing, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” I am proud of him for being able to set and achieve his goals, but there is a limit to how much interest and support I can show for what I see as such a vain and self-centered activity. It is a hobby and personal passion, not his profession. I cannot possibly be expected to care about it as much as he does. But yet, it is not only expected, it is just about demanded of me. I don’t complain. I don’t argue. I don’t even show the least bit of irritation or attitude. I just support and clap and cheer. And make the food. And shave his ass.

Nobody shaves my ass, metaphorically speaking. And I certainly don’t have a cheering section supporting me from home. We decided together to make this move. This was not about advancing my career. It was about relocating to advance our lives as a family. My career got a boost in the process, but I’m not getting the least bit of support from Lou to make it successful. I do not feel like he is purposefully trying to undermine my job, but I do feel like he could care less one way or the other what the impact of his actions are on my career or on me personally.

So, he can dig in his heels and whine all he wants. This time, perhaps for the first time, ever, I am standing my ground. There is absolutely no reason we cannot find appropriate housing. Our geographic search keeps getting further and further away from my office, but I’ll make a long commute if necessary. We will find something. We will move.

We’ve already totally destroyed our relationship with our first broker, who is arguably the nicest, most patient guy imaginable. I’ve lost track how many houses he showed us, including times he drove me around alone when Lou couldn’t or wouldn’t come. We found an expired listing for a house in Hampton Falls that we really liked. This was the second time we were interested in an expired listing, and the realtor did the same thing he had done on the first occasion, which was to get an agreement from the seller for a one-time buyer specific contract so that he could broker the deal for us, and still get a commission from the seller. We didn’t discuss details, but it was fine with me when I heard the arrangement. It was not fine with Lou. You would think it was a contract with the devil himself. Lou was outraged at the conflict of interest, and a perceived breach of our own contract with him as our buyer’s agent. This was despite the fact that we never even signed the buyer’s agency contract with the realtor, and he continued to operate in our best interest as if we had committed to him. Lou called everyone up the chain in both the real estate agency’s firm, and in the Agilent/Hewlett Packard relocation chain of command. He yelled at people who had done nothing but try to help us and was horrified that our realtor was not being fired. Eventually Lou calmed down enough to work with his partner and friend from church who tried to complete the deal for us. The worst part is that we did not go through with the purchase. We made a firm, non-negotiable lowball offer far below the asking price. The seller who built the house gave us way too much information, including all the construction costs. Lou applied what he considered to be a reasonable annual appreciation to set the maximum we should pay, regardless of the market appraisal. That didn’t go so well, which was a shame because the house was beautiful, on a huge private lot with apple trees, and just a bicycle ride from the ocean in New Hampshire.  I thought it was perfect, and priced fine.

I am steadfast in my commitment that we will move.