Night and day: He's beneath the moon, she's under the sun

October 14, 2001|By SUSAN REIMER

Like you, I read People magazine and, like you, I have my nose pressed up against the window of the cult of celebrity.

In particular, I long to retreat to the rugged solitude of my 5,000 square-foot house on the rocky coast of Maine or to the sprawling simplicity of my horse farm in Montana.

But I am realistic, and I know I will never live like the stars, or dress like them, or look that well-preserved at 50.

One thing I do share with Gloria Steinem and Katie Couric and their partners, as well as other jet-set couples, is a bicoastal relationship.

Well, the middle-class version of one, anyway. My husband and I live under the same roof, but in wildly different time zones.

I am New York, and he is California. When I am waking, he is sleeping. When I turn out the lights, he's just getting started. You can set your clocks by us: I am A.M. He is P.M.

I am Good Morning America and he is a West Coast baseball game that's gone into extra innings.

We only need one remote control and we could share a single bed. Our lives intersect at about 4 a.m. in the Land of Nod, and at about 4 p.m. over the cell phone. We leave notes on the counter, messages on the answering machine, and we send each other e-mail.

I could blame it on his job, and I do. Or I could blame it on the kids, and I do that, too. But I think it is congenital. You couldn't find better illustrations for "body clock" on the Discovery Channel.

As a baby, my husband was kept awake by his mother until his father came home from the late shift at midnight. He hasn't been to bed earlier since.

As a baby, I was put to bed by my no-nonsense mother at 7 p.m. (She had four kids under the age of 5. We were lucky if it was dark outside.) To this day, I stop making sense after dinner. Don't telephone, because I won't remember what we talked about -- or even that we talked -- because I am just too tired.

When they say "opposites attract," I'm not sure they mean "day and night," but that describes us better than "quiet" and "outgoing." The good news is, we pretty much have all 24 hours covered as far as our kids are concerned.

I can rise at 5:30 a.m., make a hot breakfast, iron a pair of trousers, edit an essay, pack a lunch, fill a crock pot, glance at three newspapers, take the recycling to the curb and be on my way to work before 8.

My husband can't find his glasses until 11 a.m.

If he tries to get up with the kids before school, he invariably says things he would regret if he could remember them. He's not grumpy, he's just goofy.

But he is there for them at night. Their uniforms or a favorite shirt will be freshly laundered and waiting on the breakfast table.

He will search all night (literally!) for the lost car keys or the lost book, and whatever he has painted or glued for a child will be dry by morning. If someone is up late studying, that child isn't alone. And, while nobody ever oversleeps on my watch, he is always there for a ride home from a friend's house at 11 p.m.

As you might expect, the time difference is tough on a marriage.

He is always suggesting that we go out for breakfast, but I am sure he must mean lunch. If a movie has a start later than 7 p.m., I will fall asleep in the car -- on the way there.

The kids will leave for college someday (we hope), and the need for this round-the-clock coverage will cease. Like newborns who have confused night with day, my husband and I will have to reset our internal clocks.

I just know he is going to agree with me that mornings are the best part of the day.

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