Monday, July 24, 2006

Husbands, Dreams

Last night, I dreamed about Dimarc, my ex-husband. I dreamed we were at some sort of corporate team-building event, where they break you into groups and you have to say positive things about yourself, and everyone feels ridiculous.

We were waiting for the event to start, and we were sitting on a raked stage with about 20 or 30 other people. Yep, a raked stage, tilted at about a 20-degree angle. I didn't feel that we were slipping, though.

There was a gal named JAckie sitting not too far away. She was single, in her early twenties, with long, blonde hair, wearing size two jeans and a serene smile. Some guys were flirting with her and she was modestly laughing, a very sweet, sensible-looking girl. The thing with Jackie was that she was a virgin, and everyone knew it.

I asked Dimarc if he wanted to be with her. He looked surprised, and asked why I would say that. "Well, I don't know where we are right now. I don't want anyone else, but..." Dimarc smiled at me and said something to the effect that she was pretty, but he wasn't interested. I wasn't comfortable with that. Seeing my discomfort, Dimarc took my hand and said "We're here. We're together. I don't want anyone else."

I laid down on my side, with my head in his lap, looking out over the rows of chairs in front of us, and the people milling about. I realized that we were only about a foot off the ground. I still didn't feel the rake in the stage. Dimarc rested his hand on my shoulder, and I wrapped my arms around his knee. I just snuggled comfortably there. I felt incredibly safe, and secure.

Suddenly I was on my feet in the middle of the crowd. The team-building event had begun, but this one was for married couples, rather than business teams. The person leading the show instructed us to inform the person standing behind us of our spouse's name, favorite song, and date of birth.

I turned to a tall, thin, blondish man behind me and said, "Dimarc. Birthday February 9th, 1967. Favorite song is..." I thought. "He's a singer, he doesn't have just one. IF he had to pick a favorite, it would be something by Billy Joel, or maybe the Bealtes, or a Broadway Showtune." This wasn't good enough. "Maybe The Stranger or Running on Ice?" I stammered. "Or The Ballad of Booth or Molasses to Rum? He likes songs he can really sing."

At some point I looked across the room and one of the other groups of people was jumping up and down. They had moved on to the next part of the exercise. I realized with a panic that I had no idea what Dimarc would choose as his favorite song. I woke up.

I didn't open my eyes. I knew that I would not see Dimarc if I did, and a deep, profound sadness washed through me. I rolled over and reached for G. G was sleeping on his side, his back to me. I curled myself and around him and tried to re-orient myself, and lose the sadness. It took a while.

Not too many minutes later, G stirred. It was 5:45. "You're not getting up yet, are you?" I asked him. I squinted up at him. "I need snuggles." G chuckled a bit and snuggled back down with me. I laid my head on his chest and we wrapped our arms around each other, and I felt better. "I was dreaming about my ex-husband," I mumbled. "It was very upsetting." G squeezed my shoulders just once, and we drifted back to sleep.

Far too short a time later, G extricated himself from my clutches, and dug around in his drawer for some clean underwear. "What's your favorite song?" I asked him sleepily. "What?" He asked, giving me the "Youcrazy?" look. "There are so many," he said."

"You have to pick one!" I said, eyes, still closed, struggling under the covers between sleeping and waking. "I need to know..."

I drifted off again.

When G came in to give me my good-bye wake-up kiss, I grabbed him and held on. He made the "Poor Baby" face at me. I knew I'd have to tell him about this later. "Have a good day," he said. "You too," I said, like every morning.

After I heard the door close and lock, I stayed in bed a few minutes. I continued to mull over what Dimarc's favorite song might be. I thought about a sweet love song by Billy Joel that had been one of our special songs, and wondered if, during the good times, it might have qualified. That song played in my head and I was surprised I still knew the lyrics:

When I raise my weary head
and you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
you say "Use my body for your bed"
And I feel my withered roots begin to grow
Well I've never had a place that I could call my very own
I want you in my house, 'cause you're my home

Or something like that.

It's a beautiful song, and more than a little cheesy, but Dimarc used to sing it to me, and I'd weep with love. We were both dramatic people. And I think, for awhile, we really felt that way about each other. Sometimes I get immensely sad, realizing how horrifically things turned, and how we eventually did a complete 180 from those concepts. It's like we seemed to have so much, and we lost it all. All because of simple human flaws, things that I still think were preventable, repairable, but that just required more effort than either of us could bring ourselves to make.

It took me no time at all to come up with a favorite song candidate for G: More than a Feeling by Boston. He and I both like upbeat, energetic songs. That says a lot about our relationship. He has been a major force in my life, and I've been more cheerful and upbeat since I've been with him than at any previous time in my life. It's one of the things I most love about being with him. So much laughter, so much energy! It's ironic - because I used to feel like an emotional albatross. I don't anymore.

On Dimarc's 40th birthday, it will have been almost 10 years since we met. We met in the summer of his 30th year, my 25th. I will be 35 soon. God, it's Ten Years he's been a figure in my life. In some ways, he still is very much in my life.

G and I hosted a visit from Trip and Slam yesterday. Lots of laughing and board game playing and screeching and general good times. And plenty of talk about having kids, and the cost of weddings, and buying homes big enough to raise a family.

I am in such an entirely different place with this marriage than I was with the last one, and it feels so wonderful. And so very necessary in some ways. I'm becoming impatient. At this rate I'll be 37 when we have our first kid, and I'm sweating it. My first marriage contained nothing of this element whatsoever. Having a family was just not on our radar screen. Dimarc wanted to buy an apartment, but I didn't want to commit to a mortgage, something in me sensing that we be in a whole lot of financial trouble if we did. G and I both, on the other hand, want a home of our own, as soon as we can get one, knowing that it will be around two years. I want a condo in the city, or at least a short train ride from the city. He'd prefer a house in a nice area of North Jersey, but I'm not having that. But we both know we need a shit-load of money for it, and we're planning.

I don't have time to finish writing down all my thoughts. It's now 8AM and I have to drive away, to my temp job. The dream is over. And life is... frankly, it's better.

My life is better than my dreams.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Maybe he just didn't like Janet's ensemble?

So last night I was in this gay bar, and Justin Timberlake was singing about whips and shackles and stuff, and I'm thinking, this was Britney's ex?

Oh, wait, that wasn't a gay bar, it was my car.

But seriously, isn't "Sexy Back" the gayest song on the radio right now?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Inner Struggle

10:10 AM
Today is one of those rare mornings where I woke up in an empty bed. G is visting friends in Massachusetts today.

I had all these grand notions. I was going to shower as soon as I got up, eat something lite, maybe a skim-milk and strawberry smoothie, and then go to the gym. Productive day of housecleaning to follow, and maybe some singing.

Instead, upon rising, I immediately wandered to the laptop and began looking through my contacts's flickr pics. I have been sitting here for 1/2 hour. Haven't even made coffee yet.

I'm not exactly an internet addict... but when I'm feeling lazy, the 'net is very magnetic.

10:49 AM
I've showered and put on my workout clothes, vacuumed the kitty litter off the kitchen floor, and made myself that smoothie. Skim Milk, frozen organic strawberries, and agave nectar, this great natural sweetener I found in the grocery store. For some reason I grabbed a handful of fresh cherries that G bought last week - non-organic. I pulled the stems and removed the pits by splitting the cherries with my teeth. This is so very hee-haw, I thought to myself, but I have cherries in the house too seldom to justify buying a cherry-pitter. And I didn't feel like washing the paring knife.

The smoothie is delish. I dithered a bit as to whether to change the cat box first, and my hunger won. Just as well. Changing the cat box wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to carry the garbage all the way out to the dumpster in back of the building.

The people who live in the apartment on the lower back part of the building have a beautiful flower garden, with lots of Tiger Lilies. Now, Tiger Lilies are some of my favorite flowers, but apparently they are also favorites of the local wasp population. The large, slender, admittedly beautiful flying instruments of death that constantly hover about that part of the yard are the bane of my existence, and a major factor in my desire to move from here. Not to mention my recent fondness for autumn.

The laundry room is in the basement of the building, and you have to carry the laundry outside the building to the basement exterior entrance, which you then have to unlock with your building key. The door to the laundry room is directly underneath this flower garden. I feel like I'm taking my life in my hands every time I do laundry on a nice day. The Dumspters are across the yard from the Garden of Death. In between the Dumpsters and the Laundry Room door is a large tree. A flowering tree. With low branches. The whole dame side yard is an anaphylaxic zone.

I simply must do laundry today. It's my turn. And I must change the catbox.

11:38 AM
Ok. Heading out to the dumpsters.

12:01 PM
Ok I'm really going out to the dumspter now.

12:03 PM
The garbage has been disposed of. I HATE NATURE. Is it too early for whiskey?
I'm going to the gym now.

8:35 PM
Had a great workout. Came home and cleaned the whole house. Another shower, a sundress, and a big lunch spread just for myself including chicken, rice and beans, spicy guacamole, pita chips, and a Rum-n-Coke. G arrived home when I was halfway through my dinner, about 4:30.

About an hour and a half later, we went to the Flywheel Ice Cream Shoppe in Piermont for treats. We talked about the wedding on the car on the way back.

More to the point, we talked about why we can't afford to get married right now, and why letting his parents help pay for it will be more trouble than it's worth, and how my parents can't really afford to pay for it. We talked about eloping and having a party afterward. I pressed that issue as hard as I could, without pissing G off. Although I honestly couldn't bear to deprive him of a wedding, when he so clearly wants one. It's ironic, the role reversal.

I'm torn. There are so many reasons why I just want to be married. Practical ones like health insurance, which I desperately need, and romantic ones like the fact that, as far as I'm concerned, we're already married and have been for some time. And yet after all this talking about it, I'm wanting a wedding now too. I want to see Kristin and Lisa and Galpal all dressed up in Chocolate Brown silk. I want to see my Mom in a gorgeous mint green dress. And dammit, I want a wedding dress. A real one. And I want a cake with rolled fondant icing and sculpted designs. And pictures. I want lots of gorgeous pictures.

I want memories. New ones.

The problem is... I also want a home with more than two rooms, which we can't afford to get in the same year that we pay for a wedding. It's a wedding or a condo, not both. And I want a baby. We both want kids. And while I'm at it, I'd like to be five years younger, please. Asking too much? Because at this rate, I might just barely make my first kid before I hit 40.

9:14 PM
G and I are watching the History Channel together, on the couch, in comfy pants.

Everything feels perfect.

I'll think about all that other stuff... some other time. Because right here... this is all that matters.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Storm Windows

This afternoon at the office, I heard the distinctive buzzing and whirring of the Emergency Broadcast System coming through the small clock radio on the bookshelf. We usually have it tuned to a Westchester station, the Peak. The music is soft, but it’s there, keeping us amused with a selection of 80’s tunes and the occasional blues number. I assumed it was "only a test," but then I heard the words “tornado warning.” I went to the radio and turned it up.

There was a tornado warning in Westchester? Sure enough. Instructions were issued to listeners about the safest places to be during the storm, and they advised everyone in certain areas – including ours – to take cover immediately.

Delia, my colleague, looked slightly stricken. “There’s a tornado here?” She asked. “Yes,” I said. “A tornado warning - that means someone actually saw a tornado.” We looked at each other, and at our other colleague Rachel, who was buried in a phone conversation, oblivious to the circumstances.

Delia immediately got on the phone with her family, in White Plains, speaking to them in Portuguese. I checked NOAA’s website. A waterspout had been sighted by the Tappan Zee Bridge – the bridge I drive over every morning and every afternoon. NOAA was warning people about flooding, especially just south of us, in Hartsdale.

I looked out the window… it was overcast, but not raining. Nothing looked, or sounded, or felt threatening. When the emergency broadcast ended, I turned the radio down… and went back to my desk.

When Rachel got off the phone, we briefly discussed communicating with executive management. "I don't think we need to," I said. Rachel and I looked out the window. It was quite calm outside. We just looked at each other for a minute. "We're going to be fine," she said. "Yeah," I said, "We are."

I was thinking more about my commute over the Tappan Zee and down to Hackensack than about my immediate safety. And all of us just seemed to know we were going to be fine, at least for the meantime.

A half an hour later, the tornado warning had been canceled.

At 4:30, I drove out of the parking lot into an enormous traffic jam. We may not have been hit by a tornado, but there had been some nasty accidents, and traffic was backed up in several directions. Police officers were present, blocking one road and scowling at the drivers, who were getting surly. For the most part, everyone behaved themselves, but the going was slow, and the traffic was tight. I made it over the bridge into Rockland county, and turned the Buick onto route 9W, heading for the Palisades Parkway.

It was drizzling. At first it was like mist, and I wondered if it wasn’t my eyes. I realized I was ever so slightly crying. G was on my mind. I knew he’d never been in danger, and I knew I really hadn’t been either, but I’d just been through a tornado warning, and out of habit, my loved one came to mind.

The rain came down, and I flipped my wipers into high gear. They don’t work so well. The left one drags, making an annoying phbbbb sound. I flipped the air conditioner off and lowered my window. The Buick overheats easily. The wind whooshed just inches from my ear, and I cranked up the radio.

“Ain’t no other man – can stand – up next to you –
Ain’t no other man – on the planet – does what you do –
You’re the kind of guy – a girl finds – in a blue moon –
You got soul, you got class
You got style, shake your bad ass
Ain’t no other man, it’s true
Ain’t no other man but you
(D-do your thing, honey!)”

I swung onto the Palisades parkway, wipers PHBBBTing furiously, tears sliding down my cheeks, smiling, singing along with Cristina, feeling… calm. I drove in the slow lane. I slowed the wipers – the rain was letting up. The sun shone through the trees, giving me flashes of light, like a disco ball. I rolled the window back up – how the waters didn’t come in the car I’ll never know – and treated myself to some air conditioning. I began composing my wedding vows.

Right there, behind the wheel.

I promise to take care of myself, and to get help when I need it.
I promise not to keep secrets. I promise to trust you.
I promise that when the day comes that you need me more than I need you, that I won’t let you down, although I can’t imagine that ever happening.
You are my best friend and my love, and as we choose each other as life partners, I promise to keep you laughing, to bring beauty into our home, and to be a constant presence along your journey.
I will be loving and kind to your parents, and a good mother to our children.
I will try to be everything to you that you have been to me.

I found myself on Route 4, headed toward Hackensack, the sun poking long yellow rays through the clouds, my right side tires splashing through some formidable puddles that had collected along the side of the steeply mounded road. I turned the radio off, and just drove.

I remembered the last time I had slept in my parent’s basement during a tornado warning. I had been in high school. I’d brought my favorite teddy bear with me, partly because, at seventeen, I still found him comforting, and partly because I had anthropomorphized him to the point that his safety was a concern, and I couldn’t stand the thought of losing him to a tornado. I remembered curling up on a small jogging trampoline, wrapped in a blanket that someone had knitted, wearing warm flannel pajamas and socks, with my teddy bear in my arm. I wondered if anyone had ever noticed how very childlike I was at seventeen – the same year I lost my virginity.

I held this image in my mind as I navigated rush hour traffic in a beast of a car, my glasses perched on my nose, my engagement ring sliding sloppily sideways, inhabiting my almost-35-year-old body while being simultaneously present in my seventeen-year-old memories. It was a profound experience. Almost like time travel, or like being in two places at once.

So many times during my youth, I felt genuinely afraid of tornados, and went to sleep in the basement just the tiniest bit afraid that we might be hit. This time, I knew there was never really any threat, in spite of what the weather reports said. I had every reason to head for the basement again – my colleagues and I had considering alerting the executives, in case they wanted to evacuate the second and third floors – but something inside me told me we’d all be fine. It was one of those very rare times in my life that I felt completely safe.

Let me type that again: I felt completely safe.

Once more: I felt completely safe.

Having two vacations in a row and three weeks off of the day job gave me an opportunity to get some little things out of the way that I needed to do for myself – including catch up on sleep. I renewed my license plates, I cleaned out my clothes closet, I spent some time visiting with my nice upstairs neighbors. I pulled out my Goddess in the Office booklet, and read it, with the upcoming new temp assignment in mind. This week, I’ve been doing little things the author suggests, to feel more connected to the divine.

I’m in an interesting place right now. It’s not a transitional period. It’s a work period, and it’s a bit of a bubble. On some superficial levels, I feel more connected to my classmates and my co-workers than I do to G, because I see and interact with them far more. However I’m aware of his life force, living inside me every minute of every day, even when we don’t email or talk on the phone for a day or more, and all I see of him at the apartment is his inert form, asleep in bed long before I get home from class. He’s outside my bubble, and yet he’s not. But I’m definitely somewhat isolated from the rest of the world.

It’s been like this for awhile. It comes with the territory. This is what it takes for me to excel at school, do well enough at work to earn a decent paycheck, and eat healthily so as not to get sick and derail everything. My focus is entirely on my studies, earning money, and my diet and exercise routine – in that order.

And as odd as it sounds… it’s good.

Somehow I’m finding a Sunday to attend a BBQ at a friend’s house in White Plains. G and I love this couple and haven’t seen them since football season. I also may be singing in church again at the end of the month, but that’s not definite yet. Stepping outside the bubble has more to do with other people pulling me outside of it. I wouldn’t be doing either of those things if G and my accompanist weren’t asking me to. I think it will be good for me to do both. But I’ll admit… I’m not really thinking about those things. I’ll do them, then they’ll be over, and I’ll be right back into my neurology class and Shiatsu training.

And the tornados can pass me right by. And I’ll be fine. And G will be home waiting for me when I’m tired.

And blessed be.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Listening to the Goddess Cards

Last night, I pulled out my Goddess cards and did a reading for myself. It wasn't easy. The cards didn't feel right. I shuffled a lot. Once I drew the cards, I shifted them around, and picked out six that seemed to be screaming for my attention.

The first card:

The Hindu goddess Lakshmi. Her slogan is "Bright Future". On the card, she is quoted: “Stop Worrying. Everything is going to be fine.”

The second card:

Sekhmet, of Egypt. Be Strong. “You are stronger than you think you are, and your strength assures a happy outcome.”

The third card:

Cordelia, a fellow celt. Go Outside. “You have been indoors too long. Go outside and get some fresh air.”

The fourth card:

The West African goddess Mawu. Mother Earth. “You are called upon to help with environmentalism.”

The fifth card:

Another fellow celt - Sulis. Bodies of Water. “Spend time near water, such as a lake, river or ocean, to recharge your batteries.”

The sixth card:

Isolt. Not really a goddess - she is also called Isolde, and is best known for her Guenevere-like story, of being married to a king but being in love with a knight, Tristan. Her slogan, of course, is Undying Love. “The love you have shared is eternal, regardless of the situation.”

I think there is a deeper meaning to Cordelia’s message. I have been cooping myself up for too long, but not literally. I’ve confined my mind to work and school. I did this on purpose – I feel it’s what I have to do in order to achieve some personal goals.

Those would be
1) remaining financially solvent while I’m in night school, and
2) maintaining a 90+ average.

So far, I’ve achieved both of these goals. The first is much more difficult than the second.

My mind is opening a bit. I have had weddings on my mind. And since my piano is now safely here in the apartment with me, I’m singing more and writing bits and pieces of songs. But nothing lasts more than a few minutes. It’s more accurate to say there are cracks around the edges of my mind.

G and I have decided to postpone the wedding. We just do not have time for this right now. Both of us are working full time jobs and going to night school! The very idea of carving out a day here or there to look at wedding sites makes us groan. The few rare times we do have a free day, we want to spend it at home resting, or visiting friends. Restfully. (Well, except for visiting Trip and Slam, which involves a lot of screaming over various board games, but it’s restful in its own way.) We are just. Not. Focused. On Wedding planning. Nope.

That’s ok. I have the ring, and the whole world knows we’re serious, and that’s enough for now. Besides, we can save some cash in the meantime. More cash means a better wedding, right?

So – no more wedding stuff for a while. I’ll get back to that in 2007. Which is much closer than it seems.

I have my first neurology test on Wednesday. My mind is THERE.

Pulling out the goddess cards for the first time in something like nine or ten months was easier than I thought. Listening to them is the hard part.

Mawu? What, I’m supposed to go into hyper-environmental mode? G and I already recycle pretty much everything. I choose Seventh Generation home care products and other such brands made with recycled materials, but as long as G is making all our money and doing all the grocery shopping, I’m not going to harass him for coming home with Viva if that’s what’s cheapest.

Maybe this is some sort of kick in the pants to take more of an active role around the house? Believe me, Mawu, if I had any time at home between 7AM and Midnight, I would, but before 7 and after 12, I’m sleeping. I get sick when I don’t sleep. I know, it’s happened. I’d love to do more… but I just don’t see how right now.

Lakshmi and Sekhmet are pretty self-explanatory. I appreciate the pep talk, ladies. And Sulis? I just took two week-long vacations on beaches. Very therapeutic indeed. I sprinkled salt into my bath last night, just for extra glory. It’s a full moon, after all.

That just leaves Isolt. Undying love. Hmf.

There is a book that came with these cards. Under Isolt, it says that the relationship in question doesn't have to be a lover – it could be a departed loved one, like my grandparents. I’d like to think that was the point of this card, but I’m pretty sure it’s not.

My mind has been on some lost loves lately. I’m not sure why. Yesterday’s essay is about one of them, the one I never really write about, the one I broke up with (or did he dump me?) eleven years ago. I accepted a long time ago that I will always think of him from time to time, and I will always care about what happens to him. I actually feel good about that. It’s nice to be past the ill will. It took a long time to get here.

My ex-husband was on my mind even today, as I worked out at the gym with G. So often I still worry about him. I wonder if he will ever really live a healthy life. I hope he finds someone who motivates him, who can outsmart him in the talking-each-other-into-or-out-of-things game. I still have to tell myself that I did everything I could when I was with him. I still shake myself, telling myself that I don’t need forgiveness for anything. I still want to blame myself for the failure of my marriage. Isn’t that just insane?

But that’s me.

One of my most significant ex’s is getting married soon. He may already be married – he never did tell me exactly when things were planned. He got engaged last New Year’s Eve to an attorney, so I imagine she’ll help him stay out of debt, and keep him firmly grounded in reality. He needs that. He’s such the dreamer. One of the things we had in common. One of the things we really got about each other… and one of the things that drove me away. That boy was really special. We were just not at all ready for each other. We’ve managed to stay friends, and that’s awesome. Actually it wasn’t that hard, staying friends. We started out that way, and I hope we don’t lose touch completely.

Writing this, another lost love is creeping into my mind… one I never dated. One I avoid telling people about, it’s so humiliating. He didn’t deserve my love. He used me, and I let him, thinking he would wake up and see what he had in me. What a delusional idiot I was. When I realized what was going on, I ended everything rather abruptly. He mostly represents my horrifically bad judgments. I’ve made plenty. This one, though, arguably, hurt the worst.

He was the second person in my life who had to tell me “I don’t love you.” I made him tell me, because I knew I’d never be able to walk away without hearing the words. I made him tell me over the phone, and then I made him write it in an email. I still have the email.

I haven’t ruminated on this sort of thing for a long time. G fills me up, and I haven’t needed to think of what might have been with this guy or that guy. Frankly, it hasn’t occurred to me until now. Maybe it’s the week with the parents, and some of the wedding talk that took place. I remember going through something like this the first time around. Maybe it’s natural.

I still struggle, sometimes, with the person I used to be. I broke a lot of hearts, and I hurt some really nice guys who deserved far better from me. I still feel ashamed at times, and I still punish myself emotionally.

Christ, it was eleven years ago. I said my apologies many years ago. I’m proud of who I am now. Let It Go, Ouiser.

I know, Lakshmi. I know everything will be ok. But thanks for the reminder. I think I’ll carry your card around with me for a few days. And thanks, Sekhmet. Some days I feel stronger than others, but I’m working on it. Sulis? No worries, sister. I’m all about the water these days. Have you seen all the Fruit 20 I’m guzzling lately?

Cordelia and Mawu… I think I see your points. I’ll see what I can do.

Isolt. Is there some REASON why you showed up? Why on earth do I need to think about lost loves when I’m so happily in love now? Am I missing something? I don’t think I am. Something about myself? Maybe. And I have to say… I’m not liking the idea that the feelings I shared with some of these people might be some kind of eternal.

Ach, maybe it’s a nice idea. Maybe… maybe some of those guys don’t remember me with hatred. Maybe they don’t pity me, or feel pain when they think of me. Maybe, just maybe, it’s all ok. It’s been a long time.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all managed to find that place of forgiveness and understanding?

And isn’t that something a Goddess might say?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Originally Written November, 2004

Charlie. Your wife is fat.

She is unpleasant, spoiled, rude, manipulative, and generally not liked by anyone. And now she’s going to have a baby that you aren’t ready for, that she pushed and begged for.

You have become a slob, leaving things all over the place, leaving messes when you visit family. This is your life now.

You’re studying sciences again, at Obscure Science University or some such place out there, getting a Master’s degree, and it’s about time. You always thrived in Academia, and I can’t believe it took you this long to go back. Thank God you finally did. You will need this to hold onto, to make you feel strong, good about your life.

Your sister Sally is sad, and disgusted. She loves you, but she is disappointed in you. To hear her talk, it sounds like everyone is disappointed in you. Your mother has admitted that she always made excuses for you, allowing you to blame others for your problems. She apparently won’t be doing that anymore. How will you handle that?

“Weez, you are light-years beyond him,” Sally said to me, visiting me at my Mom’s house. “He’s pathetic. He’s underachieved. His wife… Oh, Weez, be GLAD you didn’t end up with him. You are SO much better off - even with all you’ve lived through.”

Sally complains about your fat, rude, unpleasant wife all the time. She can’t help it. She is so disgusted that she unloads on me for an hour at a time. I have never heard her so condemnatory. ‘That woman doesn’t respect anyone, doesn’t care about anyone but herself. She pretended to be what she thought Charlie wanted, so she could get him to marry her, and it worked.” I nodded, knowing, sipping my tea, looking sympathetically at her angry little face across my mother’s kitchen table. She is so disappointed. She wanted to badly to have a real sister, and she got… this.

Sally was at it again, just last September. “My husband was the first one to see it,” she said. “‘That girl’s a user,’ he said.” We sat at Jimmy’s Pub on a weeknight, and I let Sally talk, her shoulders slumped, her fingernails idly scratching the bartop like she was trying to claw her way out of something. “The first time my husband ever met that woman, he knew. He saw it right away. He has experience with manipulative women, he knows.”

So does Charlie, I thought ruefully, and she managed to fool him anyway. “It’s such a waste,” I said, sipping my bourbon, as the blues man played the guitar, and I swayed on my barstool, staring into the golden brown of my drink, letting it warm me, letting thoughts and visions fill me from top to toes.

“What’s a waste?” Sally asked me, a wary look in her eyes.

“All of it,” I said. “Everything could have been so different.”

She was quiet. “So much better,” I said.

“Weez, tell me you still don’t think…” She gripped her glass a bit too hard, and her slender knuckles whitened, while the delicate skin between her brows furrowed, and her blue eyes darkened.

I looked at her… and sipped my whiskey.

“I’m not a fool anymore,” I said. “I live in reality. My life is wonderful. I have achieved. I don’t settle for percentages of men. I know what I can have, what I can’t, and that’s all that matters.”

“What you can have?” Sally asked. “How about what you want?”

I just looked at her and smiled. “What I want is to get by. Nothing more.” A harmonica wailed.

I thought of you, long-haired, sneaker-shod, khakis and casual shirts. Graying. Balding. Sloppy around the house. Wondering what it is you retreat into when you want to escape your wife’s prattling and guilt trips. Wondering if you’re getting fat too. I imagine your house, crap lying around, dishes in the sink, unhealthy food on the table every night, if she bothers to cook at all.

I tell myself that, most likely, none of this is true. You probably live just fine, that Sally is painting this picture for me, and she is angry and disgusted, so I shouldn’t take it at face value… yet, the image persists. I see you surfing the internet, face hard. A mask.

Sally’s partly right. You’d be terrible for me, if you’ve grown that slovenly, if after all these years of Prozac and no therapy, you’re still not healthy, and still have all those issues. You’d be… just like my ex-husband was. And that is a road I damn well won’t go down again.

I wonder if I really don’t love you anymore.

I wonder if I love anyone. If I ever really can.

I wonder what love is.

I wonder why I didn’t finish that bourbon, and why when I got home, I drank hot chocolate, and chose to wear the green nightshirt, and slipped into sleep filled with memories of our adolescent lovemaking.

I sit in the middle of conflicting visions of then and now, swirling around me, letting myself be confused, and forgiving myself for not understanding. I close my eyes and let my memories blur into Sally’s images. I balance my abandoned dreams against my recently adopted hope and plans for a simple, independent life. I watch all this swirl together into something unrecognizable, some sort of brownish-grey, smelly soup with too many ingredients.

Then I shake my head, let all that drain away, and go back to my life.

I wonder if it’s really so wrong that, against everyone’s best judgment, I still wish you had been my husband.

November 2004 was one hell of a month.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Mom and Dad at Hampton Beach

Mom and Dad at Hampton Beach
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.
Just got back from Vacation yesterday. Today, of course, I spent all day in class.

The seventeen-hour days start again on Monday. I have a good, long, lazy Sunday to enjoy tomorrow.

More pics on my Flickr page.