Mysterious Walk by ~jjjohn~ (FCC)
“Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” ~ Haruki Murakami
Tuesday afternoon. Cloudy and very warm, 80° F.
The house is quiet, just the dogs and me. The laundry is going, and the dishes are soaking. My country and folk playlist is running in the background.
Finally, I get to use the computer for my own writing. Yesterday was spent helping Brett with a paper for his technical writing course. It’s very hard for me to accept how his instructor has structured the class—haphazardly at best, formulaic at worst—after I was instrumental in shaping this particular course while I was in the English department at ODU.
But she’s there teaching, and I am not. Such is life.
It’s quite warm today, too warm. It should only be this warm in November in the southern hemisphere. But that’s how the weather is in this area. I remember one Thanksgiving we ate on my m-in-law’s deck because it was so nice outside.
I made the mistake of eating my Hardee’s leftovers just before I began this post, and I must admit that I’m feeling particularly icky at the moment. Leftover grease is worse than original grease, I think. What a bizarre statement. Knowing my body, this will not end well, so I suppose that it’s good that I’ve had to postpone my lunch with my friend Rebecca tomorrow. She has a conflict, so we’re shooting for two weeks from now. We used to have lunch together all of the time when we worked at the realty company. It was one of the bright spots in my day.
“For what can one know even of the people one lives with every day? she asked. Are we not all prisoners? She had read a wonderful play about a man who scratched at the wall of his cell, and she had felt that was true of life—one scratched on the wall.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
I’ve happened upon a new (old) band, Nickel Creek. They are a bit folksy—mandolin and violin along with acoustic guitar. I like their sound. They have a song called “Sweet Afton,” which is bittersweet for me as Afton Mountain has been such a big part of my life. I’ve driven that mountain more times than I can count going back and forth to Blacksburg and other places. Love the name Afton.
Finding a new group that I really like is a kind of gift for me. It means discovering new songs to add to my playlists. I’ve never really wanted or needed an MP3 player, but if I ever get a newer car with an MP3 adapter, it would be nice to have one so that I can download the hundreds and hundreds of songs that I have amassed over the years. Alexis has that function in her new Honda Civic, and it’s very nice.
But the reality is that I will be happy to have a working, safe vehicle. Along those lines, I think that we are really (really, this time) nearing the end with the truck. Corey took that part to have something shaped, now it’s just a matter of Vic putting it on and finishing. After which, we have to pay the back taxes to the city (hate Virginia’s personal property tax laws), get new tags, and (shudder) new tires and possibly brakes.
Not so little when it’s all spelled out, unfortunately.
“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.” ~ Douglas Coupland
The last few days have been trying for me. Every once in a while something happens to bring me up short. I mean, I encounter a truth of which I was unaware, or perhaps it’s a truth that I’ve been hiding from myself. We all do that I think—hide things from ourselves, whether because it’s easier or because it’s harder. Who knows . . .
But when reality shifts that tiny bit, when the world tilts at a slightly different angle, the reality with which you have become comfortable is permanently erased and replaced with a new reality that you must encompass. There is no choice to be made as the decision has been made for you.
I hate sliding down that slope because each time the bottom is in a different place. And what awaits me there never has the same essence. It could be well and truly devastating, or merely saddening. And although I am an old hand at these slides, although the encounter with the precipice is far from new, it’s painful nonetheless.
I have wished more than once that I could be the kind of person who rolls with things easily, that I could be the kind of person who does not question, the kind of person who can live with a lie, the kind of person who can embrace illusion as truth. But I am not, and I cannot. And more’s the pity. I mean, do you think that I like pain? Better question: Do I think that I like pain?
Now there’s a question.
“There is a twilight zone in our hearts that we ourselves cannot see. Even when we know quite a lot about ourselves—our gifts and weaknesses, our ambitions and aspirations, our motives and our drives—large parts of ourselves remain in the shadow of consciousness . . . We will always remain partially hidden to ourselves.” ~ Henri Nouwen
Perhaps I do. Perhaps I relish the pain because it reminds me that I am alive. Perhaps I embrace the pain because it lets me know that I can still feel. Perhaps this is all just a load of crap.
I have always gone through life so certain of some things and so uncertain about others. And the things of which I am most uncertain relate directly to me: my perception of myself, my dislike of certain aspects of myself, my deep-seated insecurities. How is it that a woman who is so confident, so self-assured in some ways can be so damned uncertain in others? How can I be simultaneously haughty and insecure? How do I reconcile being arrogant and audacious with also being self-conscious and unsure?
I know that we are all made up of contradictions, but is everyone else just as torn as I am? I don’t think so. I mean, I know people who embody the very idea of conceit. If they have chinks, they don’t seem to worry about them.
Look. I don’t know why I am the way I am. I have some ideas, but not really. And I also know that I’m lucky in that my spouse, my life partner is supportive, doesn’t denigrate me, lies to me when I say that I’m fat. I know that I drive Corey crazy with my insecurities, and if I could like myself more I would. But I also know that the very nature of our relationship, the age difference, puts me at a disadvantage, at least in my mind. At first, the age difference didn’t bother me so much, but with each birthday, I feel the years more.
I cannot compete with women in their 20’s; they do not have thicker waists or wisps of grey hair. They have not yet begun to obsess over their arms. However, they also do not have my life experience, which allows me to roll with the turbulence of life a little better. Where they have drama on a daily basis, I have the somber reality of having seen the worst that life can deal.
“There’s nothing more personal, I think, than the shape that emptiness takes inside you; nor more particular than the means by which you fill it” ~ Clive Barker
When I say that I would not go back to my 20’s for anything, I really mean it. I’m not even certain that I would care to repeat my 30’s. There was so much angst, always right at the surface. Being my age gives me perspective, but it also gives me pause.
I will never again look the way I did when Corey first laid eyes on me. But then, neither will he. This is the kind of thing that I must remind myself. Corey has a self-assurance that he has worked hard to attain, and he hides his insecurities well. He says that he loves being married and that he loves being married to me.
I believe him.
I just wish that I could believe in myself more. I really dislike needy women, so when did I become one? Exactly at what point did I turn the corner and run into a reflection that I no longer know? Truthfully, years and years ago. The mirror has never been my friend, from the time I was in grade school and wanted to see blue eyes and blond hair staring back at me, to the time my ex described a woman with whom he worked as voluptuous and I looked down at my own small chest to the time I first noticed that my back was no longer sexy.
In other words, always, for as long as I can remember. The person I have seen in the mirror has never quite been the person that I expected. And so it goes.
My keen intellect? My incisive mind? My ability to hold my own in a political debate? My power with the written word? My empathetic heart and devotion to family and friends? All fall away the moment I look in the mirror. And I hate, really and truly hate that.
More later. Peace.
Music by Nickel Creek, “Sweet Afton”
Ruin and Beauty
It’s so quiet now the children have decided to stop
being born. We raise our cups in an empty room.
In this light, the curtains are transparent as gauze.
Through the open window we hear nothing—
no airplane, lawn mower, no siren
speeding its white pain through the city’s traffic.
There is no traffic. What remains is all that remains.
The brick school at the five points crosswalk
is drenched in morning glory.
Its white flowers are trumpets
festooning this coastal town.
Will the eventual forest rise up
and remember our footsteps? Already
seedlings erupt through cement,
crabgrass heaves through cracked marble,
already wolves come down from the hills
to forage among us. We are like them now,
just another species looking to the stars
and howling extinction.
They say the body accepts any kind of sorrow,
that our ancestors lay down on their stomachs
in school hallways, as children they lay down
like matches waiting for a nuclear fire.
It wasn’t supposed to end like this:
all ruin and beauty, vines waterfalling down
a century’s architecture; it wasn’t supposed to end
so quietly, without fanfare or fuss,
a man and woman collecting rain
in old coffee tins. Darling,
the wars have been forgotten.
These days our quarrels are only with ourselves.
Tonight you sit on the edge of the bed loosening your shoes.
The act is soundless, without future
weight. Should we name this failure?
Should we wake to the regret at the end of time
doing what people have always done
and say it was not enough?
~ Patricia Young