Written by Louise Krug
Art by Jelena Pešić
Sometimes Louise worried that she and her husband, Nick, fought too much. She remembered how her mom would go out for a walk after an argument with Louise’s dad and sometimes be gone for a while. Louise had never done that. She had cried in the bathroom, or at the kitchen table, or their bed, and she had gotten in her car, even started it, but she had never driven away.
Louise was happy she was an ESFJ. She had taken the Myers-Briggs personality test on her computer. The Caregiver was the title of the ESFJ’s profile, and ESFJ stood for Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging. Nick found out he was an ISFJ when she made him take the test after breakfast one day, standing up at the kitchen counter because that was the only place he could use his computer while it charged. The I in his ISFJ stood for Introverted, and his title was The Nurturer.
“This is exactly right on,” Louise hooted, reading the description over his shoulder. One sentence read, “ISFJs have a very clear idea of the way things should be, which they strive to attain.”
“Like when you thought my idea of hanging stained glass with fishing line in the kitchen window looked country,” she said. “And how you like bacon but won’t eat ham.”
“Well, that’s how I feel,” Nick said, pouring more coffee and putting his mug in the microwave. “What’s the difference between a caregiver and a nurturer, anyway?”
Louise remembered getting ESFP, The Entertainer, as the result a long time ago. Maybe her changing was just part of growing older. Also, an entertainer was nothing like a caregiver. What had happened? What had been the cause of this shift?
Louise also liked to read about the compatibility of her and Nick’s astrological signs. She was a Gemini and he was a Sagittarius. Gemini, Louise’s sign, were natural intellectuals, charmers, gifted with talk. A few other sites said that Gemini was generally two-faced and selfish, indecisive and flighty. Sagittarius, Nick’s sign, were Steady Eddies. They were truth-seekers and wanted to know things like the meaning of life. Their worst trait was tactlessness.
Louise and Nick were both oldest children. That did not bode well for their union, said a birth-order book Louise had checked out from the library. They had problems sharing things, from a bowl of ice cream to the bathroom sink during teeth brushing. They had the Last Word Syndrome, and would endure the silent treatment for only a few minutes before picking the scab of an argument.
Their last serious fight had been about Louise buying things that Nick said were unnecessary. In a three-day period that Nick had been in Texas photographing basketball games, Louise had bought the following items online: a four-pack of toothbrushes for Olive called Surround (because they cleaned three surfaces of the teeth at once); a sea-salt grinder; a pair of khaki shorts for herself; a portion-control plate called Meal Measure, which had three circles for protein, vegetables, and starch; and a 1 oz. bottle of Moroccan Oil for her hair.
Louise’s defense was that she was lonely when Nick was gone.
“It’s 6 a.m., Olive’s sleeping, and I’m sitting around with my computer,” she said, smiling, hoping Nick would meet her eyes. But Nick was pretty pissed. Their toddler, Olive, was eating a snack in her high chair, toast and hummus, and Nick cut it for her in small, precise squares.
“I’ll go to the post office right now and send the plate back,” Louise said. “O.K.?”
After ten minutes she came back to the kitchen empty handed. “I can’t find it,” she said. “I know I put it in there. It’s just such a mess in that room, all those clothes and shoes.” There was a silence, and then Nick said what he had to say. He had said it many times.
“It’s O.K., Louise. It didn’t cost that much anyway. Have some toast.”
In that way, he was a Nurturer.
Louise Krug is the author of the memoir Louise: Amended, which came out in 2012 by Black Balloon Publishing. It chronicles her journey through brain surgery and recovery at age 22, and was named one of the Top 20 Best Nonfiction Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly. “ESFJ” is from a new memoir she is working on that discusses her life after brain surgery, which includes getting married and having a child. Krug is a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Kansas.
(Updated Nov. 2013)
Jelena Pešić was born in Belgrade, Serbia. She graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence with a degree in Sculpture, and from the same school with an MFA in Visual Art and Multimedia Techniques. She is a sculptor, video artist, and illustrator. She has illustrated children’s books, scientific texts, and graphic novels. Her works can be found at http://www.behance.net/jelenapesic.
(Updated Nov. 2013)