Yesterday Brian replaced our light bulbs with fancy new ‘Daylight’ bulbs. They are allegedly the same wattage as our old bulbs. The first time I walked in the bedroom they seared my delicate retinal membranes like tuna steaks.

“OW!” I said, and at the same time Brian said, “Isn’t it great?”

While it is true I have mourned the absence of daylight for the last few winter months, I do not miss it in my bedroom at 11pm. And this was no ordinary daylight. The aggressive, blazing blue-whiteness of these bulbs seemed to radiate from the very air molecules around me. It was the kind of nuclear glow in which you worry that you are about to see how your bones are looking these days.

I could see Brian’s fair Irish skin beginning to freckle as he lay peacefully reading in bed.

Realizing that his intentions were good, I decided to withhold judgment for a few minutes, at least until my eyes adjusted, or bled, whichever came first. I sat down on the bed and squinted around. The walls, which Brian had painted a cheerful yellow when he’d moved in a year ago, had a sudden manic intensity from the glare. Every crack and painted-over hair stood out in sharp relief.

“Hey Brian,” I mused. “These walls– did you use a base coat? They just look so patchy. I never noticed before….so many imperfections…”

I went into the bathroom, and confronted my own mug shot. I had aged twenty years. The face in the mirror looked like it had two children and three open warrants. That was it.

I got into bed with my sunglasses on. Brian pretended not to notice. Relationships are all about compromise.

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