My husband Justin is the kind of person who doesn’t like it when you read things aloud to him. When given the choice, he nearly always prefers to read the words himself. Similarly, he’s not someone who often stands and reads things aloud.
So when he started roaring with laughter and insisted he had to read something to me, I figured I was in for a treat.
And what he read me didn’t disappoint. It was a story by reporter Christopher Ingraham about the time he’d ordered live crickets off the Internet and discovered all too late that they weren’t secured in the shipping box beyond a single piece of tape.
His house was suddenly filled with crickets. As he fought to contain the issue, he continued to hear his unsuspecting wife responding with confusion to all of these crickets. Crickets out of nowhere.
He’d essentially bought a biblical plague off Amazon.
Hilarious. And awful. And weirdly relatable… because haven’t we all gotten into bizarre messes under the best of intentions? I sure have.
Anyway, the very next day Nicole Cliffe wrote (likely in response to either the original post or the followup piece in the Washington Post by the cricket releaser) “in every relationship there is the accidental cricket-releaser person and the where-are-all-these-damn-crickets-coming from person, look in your soul and ask: which am I?”
This gave me pause. Which one was I?
Trying to Figure Out If I’m the Cricket Releaser or the Cricket Finder
I sat with the question myself for a few minutes, in regards to my relationship with my husband, since I find that it’s in domestic relationships that you can often do the most cricket releasing and finding.
It was a far more difficult question than I’d thought it would be. Looking over our history honestly, I could certainly think of times when he had goofed and brought some chaos into the fray. But then again, so had I.
We’d both released crickets. Plenty of them.
This was a stark contrast from my previous long-lasting domestic partnership. In that relationship, my ex had clearly been the cricket releaser. And I was continually in a state where I was finding his messes and trying to contain them.
With my ex, there was clearly one responsible adult in that relationship, and it was inevitably me. Sometimes this was okay. It was a welcome change feeling like I somewhat had my shit together, after the mess I’d been as a young person. But it was also kind of a bummer always feeling like a wet blanket. A Person Who Is No Fun and Too Serious.
And many times it felt like that relationship was composed of two disparate entities, The Ministry of Fun and The Ministry of Responsibility, and neither of us could escape either structure and really meet somewhere in the middle. Instead, my ex and I were always separate. On different teams.
Conversely, it’s never felt that way with Justin. Sometimes I’m the hopeless case, sometimes he is. And both of us have the capacity to be breathtakingly responsible when the situation calls for it.
These days I’ve come to appreciate this more balanced give and take, but in the early months and years of our relationship, it was disconcerting. I always worried that I was actually the cricket releaser in chief and Justin too polite to call me out on it. And having always had to clean up the messes, I knew how much of a burden that could be and was mortified at the thought that I could be doing that to Justin.
Actually, to be honest, I still struggle with those doubts sometimes, the feeling that I’m forever releasing crickets and never rounding them up. So I decided to take this opportunity to get his take.
I read him the quote by Nicole Cliffe. “So what do you think? Am I the cricket releaser or cricket finder? Cricket releaser, yeah?”
He thought for a second. Shook his head. “No, we both release plenty of crickets.”
“So you’re saying we take turns releasing crickets?” I said.
He nodded. “Yeah.”
We Take Turns Releasing Crickets
It’s an interesting departure from everything I’d been taught about love and relationships by sitcom marriages. Real life has taught me that relationships aren’t necessarily a partnership of one person who is continually adding complications, dramatic tension, and adventure — and one person who is forever even-keeled, steady, responsible.
They can be. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But there are other combinations possible. And a lot of people who aren’t necessarily fully responsible or irresponsible (I would wager most of them). Instead, they’re a mix of zany and grounded. Sensible and illogical. Whimsical and steady.
And if you get people who possess the same characteristics in the same rhythms into a relationship, I think you can get an entirely different pattern. You can have people who take turns releasing crickets and who take turns finding them. Relationships in which it’s not always the same person who stays up the entire night partying and not always the same person who gets up early the following morning to sweep up the mess.
Where things ebb and flow. The roles change.
And maybe it’s messier this way — maybe it would be easier to stay typecast, in familiar roles.
But having had that already in the past, I’m quite happy with the way things are now.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything, this give and take. The shared mistakes and humility. The way we take turns teaching each other things.