Tuesday, November 12, 2019

people think i'm nuts

I'm tucked in bed in a cozy hotel room decorated like a slightly eccentric English country house, warm blue fabric walls, thick embroidered curtains, and weirdly charming botanical photographs of sweet peas that look a little like long, thin people. My bed is huge and white and soft and covered in Frette linens.  It's awfully early in the morning but nonetheless, I should be happy. I should be enjoying this adventure. However, I am not a city person; they appeal to me less and less and although New York City has its charm and the people watching is topnotch, I long for some wet oak trees surrounded by squelchy mud. I long for my gumboots and the rosy cheeks you get from walking in the rain. To be honest, I am a little off and I'm not entirely sure why. Let's imagine what it could be: away from home again, missing my lovely, kind man who brings me tea in the morning and tells me everything will be all right, too much (too intense) work, no dogs, no meds, jetlag, menopause, existential angst, loneliness, lack of nature. I think I'll just stick to the lack of dogs. Even though there is a wonderful and huge portrait of a Jack Russell above the fireplace in the library here and I wonder by it to pay homage every time I go by.  I even point it out to people (strangers), who of course think I'm nuts.

To add to the litany of things I beat myself up over is phone addiction. I had to leave my phone at the Apple store for a couple of hours to have its screen mended (at vast expense) and I twitched my way around SoHo in my sturdy Bass Weejuns, feeling quite verklempt, as if someone has chopped off my arm. I couldn't tell the time (I am wearing a watch that needs a battery), I couldn't use a map to find places, I couldn't take pictures. I suggested to the woman at Apple that they build a yoga studio onsite and usher people into it for a couple of hours of kundalini meditation while their phones are being fixed and she looked at me, as often people do, as if I were mad. Clearly this is a theme I'm comfortable with,

I worry about the time about six years ago when my marriage had ended and I invited a lot of women over for drinks and supper (this gathering thing is a habit of which I'm fond). We were assembled in my kitchen and sitting room in Laurel Canyon, spilling out into the house. Everyone was fun and animated. It was a good group of women, an interesting group. More wine was needed and I went to open a bottle and called out gaily "where is a man when you need him" expecting a jolly laugh but receiving instead a "oh I don't think we really need a man to open a bottle of wine." I died. Even now I look back at that incident and wonder what I was thinking. Woke me was hardly woke at all. And yet, somewhere in my mind I'd carved out clear gender roles and men fell into the opening wine and putting out the trash category.

Even eight and a half years in, there has to be room to reflect on what was missed, but more importantly, how much courage it takes to move from one full life to another, to rebuild the whole framework of one's life. I almost never stop to think about this stuff, because it is who I am and in my nature to push on through things and to take risks and to believe in a good outcome. I am grateful for my optimism. I am grateful that I don't want to live a safe life. 

Noah Baumbach's A Marriage Story deals with the dissolution of a marriage. It's tough stuff to watch and hits the emotional chords, and it works because of the terrific performances. But I couldn't help but think that this was a couple that just needed a really good couples counsellor, someone who could unravel their issues and help them communicate to each other in a way that the other person could hear. Mostly, in my experience, the key to a good relationship is actually being able to hear what the other person is saying. J & I couldn't. It had been too many years, and there had been too much calcified stuff that had built up up, layer upon layer of cement-like sediment, so that one would need a jackhammer, years, and endless resources to get through it. My darling man says the most important thing is to be kind to each other, and I agree with him. (He is the kindest man I have ever met.) But I would add to that optimism.

Optimism is waking up at the five in the morning and believing that the day will hold something good. Optimism is trusting that the democratic process hasn't crumbled and that justice will prevail in the impeachment of this dreadful President. Optimism is embarking on a walk without a map (or a phone) and believing that you will get home in time for supper. Optimism is embracing the journey, Optimism is being firmly and steadfastly in the moment.

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amandagreenaus said...

I've been watching Modern Love and the one that stuck closest to home was Tina Fey and John Slattery slogging their way through a marriage gone stale. It's tough stuff.

Lou said...

This is exactly the kind of post you write that I love (along with the one about the best cauliflower cheese, which I always try to remember by heart when I am cooking that dish) and the one about marriage, reading the paper and Adirondack chairs, which will stay with me forever and is indeed a true reflection of marriage breakdown. I agree on every front; it takes a lot to make a new life, especially when the calcification is not only on the couple, but also on the attitude of the wife individually. The wine opening is just one example of the step change needed; same applies to how so many married women I now notice, give their husband's schedule before commenting on whether they are free to join for a dinner, at which wine might be opened. It's strange times, a full moon and sometimes only dogs and squelchy mud will do.

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