Saturday, January 31, 2009

"It Is Impolite To Use Headphones While Someone Else Is In The Room"

My second term is under way. I am back to studying devotedly.

Andrew has been depressed for weeks, and especially so since Christmas, but his depression started to pass this week. For that I am grateful.

For those who do not know Andrew, they would never have had any idea that he was depressed these last several weeks, and this is because he goes through the motions, beautifully, of pretending to be perfectly fine.

I, however, can tell when Andrew is depressed, and he has been exceedingly depressed since the beginning of December.

I told Andrew’s mother at Christmas that Andrew was depressed, and she told me that she could tell he was depressed, but she also told me that she knew exactly what to do.

Among other things, Andrew’s mother says that we need to move to a new apartment, because the low ceilings of our apartment make Andrew feel cramped.

Andrew, however, refuses to contemplate a move, insisting that we remain right where we are and stick it out for three years. He says that we have a signed lease under favorable terms, that we painted and fixed up the apartment to suit our satisfaction, that we bought furniture expressly tailored for the layout of our apartment, and that it would be foolish to throw away our investment of time and money. He utterly refuses to waste energy even thinking about new living quarters and undertaking arrangements to move our things.

A few days after we returned from our holidays, Andrew received in the mail a set of very expensive, very high-end headphones, a gift from his mother and father. Andrew is supposed to use the headphones to listen to music while I study, especially dissonant, 20th-Century music in which I have little interest.

Andrew refuses to use the headphones. He has not used them even once. The headphones remain on the shelf, untouched, in the very box in which they arrived. Andrew claims it is impolite to use headphones while someone else is in the room.

One of Alex’s assignments during his visit with us over the January holiday weekend was to insist that we buy a television and subscribe to cable so that Andrew could follow the college basketball season. Alex was under instructions from his father to buy us a television himself, and to arrange himself to have cable installed, if we refused.

Andrew simply would not hear of it. He insisted that television would be a distraction for me—and in that regard, he was right—and he said that he would not even allow a television to cross the threshold of the apartment. Further, Andrew told Alex that if Alex bought a television for us during his visit, Andrew was going to return it to the vendor as soon as Alex returned to Minneapolis.

When Andrew is depressed, he does not sleep well. Either he will not sleep at all—in which case he will get up in the middle of the night and go into the kitchen and read—or he will toss and turn and talk in his sleep. I can understand some of what he says in his sleep. He talks in his sleep to his mother, to his father, to the dog, and to me, and he constantly talks about “home”. I have heard him say, a hundred times in his sleep, clear as a bell, “I want to go home”.

I noticed that Andrew became demonstrably better, day-by-day, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. He seems to be back to his old self today. I am relieved. I know that Boston, which he intensely dislikes (as do I), is the source of his depression.

I feel guilty, having dragged him here.

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