Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Not Really Regrets

It's been weeks now, but I saw Lady Brigit, in a dream. She was strong and heartily built, wearing a white caftan, with wild reddish-brown hair bushing about her head. She was peppered in freckles and her green eyes glowed, as though they were backlit.

We were in her house, at her hearth. It was dark, but the blazing fire lit the small round earthen room. We weren't alone - someone small was behind her, like an apprentice, a sort of benevolent blankness. Brigit wore a beaded belt with gold inlay, knotted about her ample hips, and the neckline of her gown was worked in the same pattern. Her hands were meaty, but soft, and she had short, clean, practical nails, like mine. Working hands.

She was trying to tell me something, and I couldn't understand. I couldn't move or speak. I couldn't move my mouth or face to tell her that I couldn't hear her. I could only stand there helplessly while her words floated past me, breaths of wisdom lost to the air.

I woke up with stomach cramps. I ran to the toilet, but nothing happened. I sat there and cried, at 4 in the morning, while G slept, and Marge meowed piteously outside the bathroom door.

Over the past year, my dreams have become more infrequent. When I do dream, it's often about the movie I fell asleep watching. The nothingness in my mind... I have been so incredibly lonesome without my dreams. I miss my grandparents so much it hurts. I know the goddesses only visit me when I need them the most... and one finally came, and I couldn't hear her. I feel incompetent, disconnected, abandoned. Just plain sad.

****************************************

In the spring of 2002, Dimarc and I settled into a two-level brownstone apartment on a historic block in Long Island City, Queens. After seven months of living apart, contemplating seperation and divorce, we had decided to start over, renting a home from a happy couple who were living in Florida. The vibes seemed good.

It was a delicate time for us. We were happy to be back together, each comforted by the knowledge that both of us wanted to stay together. We resolved to work our hardest at fixing our problems. We promised we'd talk more, be more sensitive to each other's feelings. We didn't really know if we'd make it, but we were determined to try.

We loved each other.

My cousin Julie got married that summer, and Dimarc and I were invited to the wedding in the Idaho Panhandle, where a sizeable branch of my father's family lives. Dimarc and I flew into Spokane, and Dad met us at the airport, all jovial with family pride, full of stories about his previous visits to that airport. From there, Dad drove us out of Washington through a stretch of rolling hills, over Lake Pend D'Orellie to the booming metropolis of Sandpoint, Idaho, population just under 7000.

The wedding itself was held at the home of a neighboring family, the Potters. They, like my Aunt and Uncle, bought a pice of land well outside any city limits, and built their house there, so really, we were in the middle of nowhere.

My aunt and Uncle have eight kids. Two of the Potter kids married two of my cousins, so I suppose that makes the Potters family. They were very nice people and gracious hosts. Their house is quite large, sitting on the sunlit mountainside, surrounded by trees and flowering bushes and all the natural beauty that draws folks to that area. It was too much nature for me, as I spent most of outdoor ceremony hoping the large wasps buzzing around the floral arrangements didn't come too close to the seating area.

It was well into the seventies that day, and Dimarc and I were overdressed. In New York, it had been unseasonably chilly, and the forecast had predicted more of the same for Idaho. I wore a plum-colored turtleneck-sweater dress with a matching cardigan tied over my shoulders, with tall black boots. Dimarc was in a black wool-blend suit. Once we stepped outside, we knew we'd be too warm... but we hadn't brought anything else. I consoled myself with the assessment that, out-of-season or no, we did look rather dapper.

My aunts and uncles and cousins were dressed for the weather, in modest floral sundresses and sandals, the men in short-sleeved white shirts and dress pants with ties, often in Khaki or Navy blue, of questionable fabric. David and I stood out. We were just so New York... but I imagine the family expected such. Nobody looked disapproving. After a while I was too focused on the bees and the pollen to really care about our clothes.

The ceremony itself was short, and peppered with references to God's commandments regarding marriage and the role of men and women. I've sat through these things enough times to be able to grit my teeth and bear it with minimal nausea. Eventually the bride and groom kissed, and we all applauded. Time for photos.

I still have the photos, some of which are very dear to me. I'm particularly fond of one picture of Dimarc and I with my paternal Grandmother, who at that time was wheelchair-bound, but of sound mind and in bright spirits. She was wearing a purple dress, and the three of us matched quite nicely. She has a serene expression on her face, as though all is right with the world. That day, everything seemed to be.

The special thing about this particular wedding was the musical soiree. Most members of this side of my family are musical. If they don't play an instrument - and most of them do - they sing. I was asked to sing "O Mio Babbino Caro" to my uncle's accompaniment on violin. One of the Potter girls joined in on piano, and it was just lovely. I was the only singer, but there was a guitarist, several pianists, a couple of violins, a flute, and I'm pretty sure a harp somewhere in there. We all took turns, and there was a constant stream of live music in the air.

At some point, during some very pretty song, Dimarc took my by the hand, pulled me to my feet, and asked me to dance. I blushed, and we danced.

"You know... this isn't really kosher," I whispered. "These people really don't believe in dancing!"

"I know," Dimarc mumbled. "I don't care."

"Me neither," I sighed. I rested my head against his broad chest and closed my eyes. For those few moments, depsite the undercurrent of rebellious thrill, I felt that mushy, floaty, being-in-love feeling that people make movies about. Maybe it was the undercurrent of rebellion that made it more special. Or maybe it was a sense of relief, that my marriage might work out after all. Maybe it was simply happiness in the moment.

I suppose it doesn't matter. What matters is how happy I was, and how bittersweet the memory is now.

All of the things that came between Dimarc and I seem so senseless, so avoidable. That perspective is natural given the time that has passed, but I remember feeling that they were senseless and avoidable back then as well, even in the very moments of our conflict. I still feel that underneath the immaturity and the stubborness, we were two people with a great deal in common, including some of the most basic things that a couple needs to sustain a marriage. If we hadn't been so childish. If we hadn't been so controlling. If, if, if.

If we had really loved each other that much. Because, frankly, we just didn't. That's what I regret the most.

****************************************

This morning just before waking, I dreamed of an old friend, who knew this all along, who tried to warn me, who I didn't listen to because I didn't trust him. I dreamed I was in a college bar in New Orleans, listening to him singing Karaoke, "You are always on my Mind."

Bullshit, I thought. I still didn't trust anything he said, even in my dream. I was drinking bourbon, like I used to all those years ago, neat, sitting at the bar alone, listening to someone I should have listened to years ago sing a damn good Willie Nelson cover. I woke up feeling sad, and lonely, and full of regret.

I'm happy now. I really am. But I feel old. I feel that an enormous chunk of my life is simply over, and I don't really know what's next, but from what I can see, it's nothing very thrilling. And yet, I know it will be thrilling. Our tiny wedding will be momentous. Having a child will be the greatest adventure of my life. Even the mundanity of buying my very first new car seems thrilling to me, when I really grasp the reality of it. And a home? Owning a home? That's actually starting to coalesce into an expected reality. For all my adult life, I've run like hell from the prospect of owning property! But now, I see it as a necessity. I'm gonna have to put some roots down. G and I will be better off investing. We'll have a kid to raise. And I'll need a place to park my car.

At 35, I'm finally genuinely afraid of becoming... I'm forcing myself to say this: Bored. A boring suburbanite.

Dancing with Dimarc, in a place where no one dances, to live music, surrounded by my family... That joy still surges through me when I think back and remember. So does the joy of having sex with Charlie in his car, pulled off the highway to wait out a thunderstorm, when I was 21 years old. So does the thrill of running around the lower east side with Glamgirl, or Wildgirl, when I was 26. The freedom of buying matching rings on Bleecker Street with Sam, declaring ourselves married, and fuck the world and its rules... How old were we then? The catharsis of screaming karaoke at 2AM in some gay karaoke bar, to thundrous applause. The humour in walking home in my opera concert clothes, after post-show partying. The triumphant feel of a new lease. New York. There will never be anyplace in my life like New York.

Hey Dimarc, at least you still live there. You've got that over me. I'll never live there again, and you may be the only one who knows how I really feel about that. If you ever need to feel like you won something, here it is.

I am moving out of the maiden... becoming... what? Have I gone straight to Amazon, skipping the mother? I will be a mother, but not for another year or more. Am I in limbo? Am I living the phases out of order?

That journey I'm always describing... for a while I was walking through a dark, seemingly impenetrable woods. Then I was standing in a doorway. Then I was through the doorway, walking on a vast plain, with nothing in sight but fertile feilds. Now I see something in the distance. Something shadowy, like a skyline... but I can't tell if those are buildings, or trees, or... I just can't see. Too far off. I'm treading earth here in Nyack, not really New York, but not "Not New York," feeling like I'm getting nowhere, but something is on the horizon. I just have to be patient, and keep walking.

Cherish your memories, forgive your friends, release your prisoners, and keep walking.

Maybe... maybe that's what Brigit was trying to say.

5 comments:

Dimarc67 said...

Tsk, tsk, tsk, Baby. Never did, never would, never could. 'Sides, been toying with imagining a change of venue. No plans, just thinkin'. (Dangerous, I know...)
D.

Jess said...

Cherish your memories, forgive your friends, release your prisoners, and keep walking.

Wise advice. Well, except for releasing the prisoners. It was tough enough to capture them, and they do too much work around here! ;)

Dantallion said...

Beautiful words.

Judy said...

Great post. Welcome back to blogland.

Dr. Zoom said...

I'm happy now. I really am. But I feel old. I feel that an enormous chunk of my life is simply over, and I don't really know what's next, but from what I can see, it's nothing very thrilling.

I just got a chill. We're at that certain age, aren't we. Sigh. And yet, I wouldn't trade my happiness. Not for thrills. Not for anything.

But I do know whereof you speak.