Sunday, January 23, 2011

an act or instance of placing close together or side by side,esp. for comparison or contrast.
the state of being close together or side by side.

It's a cold, drizzly weekday night.  The two of us are at Academy, looking at mens clothes.  It sounded so fun, the idea of trolling around Academy looking for items on clearance.  Once we got to our intended section, though, it seemed a little awkward to me.  I slipped off to the women's room, my mind still rolling over some of the conversation topics from dinner, things that make me think, things that make us laugh, things we will end up bringing up later in other conversations.  Seems like some of these things we have been talking about since the beginning of talking, things like the differences between men and women, the problems with both, the value in both.  
Here I am wondering if some of what we talked about should have me being concerned, and somehow it makes me feel self conscious.  I'm thinking about other women again, other women from the past of every man from my past.  I'm kind of in this weird place in my head when I make it back to where he is browsing for shirts.  He is having trouble deciding, and asks me, "which of these would you rather see me in?"  It is such an odd question to me, this idea of a woman picking out his clothes, that it makes me wonder about those who came before me.  Which one of them trained that in him?
"I'm not that kind of girl," I smile at him, but then send him off to try on a few agreed on choices nonetheless.  While he is gone, I let my eyes wander around the shirts, playing this game, pretending, if I WAS that kind of girl, which of these clothes would I see him in?
My eyes keep falling on some sweaters that I am innately drawn to.  I wander over to look at them more closely, and realize they were not his type.  They would have looked great on my exhusband, though.  This would have been something I would have bought for him.  And I smile ironically at my head-self, admonishing myself for thinking I was so different than her, or them, when on the inside we are all the same.
Done with our errand, we leave to meet up with my ex to retrieve the kids from their visitation with him.  J pulls into the parking lot nose to tail with my ex's Jeep, so close that the doors can't both open at the same time.  My ex has to stand there in the drizzle while I load the little one into his car seat.  He is questioning me, acting as if he is concerned that J might be a threat to the safety and well being of those he cares about. which is just so funny and frustrating all at the same time, being that now for the first time we are all protected and cared for by someone who has our well being as a top priority, the way he never did.  He was a bit the snarly dragon that this hero rescued us all from, in fact, but seems to be doing a little projecting of his own bad reflection.
Earlier, we had been on the way to drop the kids off with him when he had texted me, told me what he was making them for dinner.  I was a little surprised, being that he was making one of my favorite things in the whole world, and when I showed up, he invited me in to see.  It turned out to be just a sleigh of hand, a trick if you will, but we kind of laughed about it like old friends.  In the back of my mind, though, I am still simmering angrily over a dream I woke from this morning, a dream blending the places and faces of our shared past with some recent unsettling elements he has brought unbiddingly into my life.
Later, I am standing in the hallway listening to the children settling in for the night.  My eyes take in little silver shapes in the dark hallway.  I run my fingers over them, these left-behind nails, places where pictures used to hang, pictures from the previous life that was being lived out inside these walls.
Now the kids are asleep in bed and we are getting there ourselves, J and I.  We are snuggled up impractically tight, talking over the events of the night, laughing under our breaths at all the foolishness in and around us.  Side to side, hip to hip, knee on knee, sole of foot running across tops of other, the remarkable oneness of intimate beings.  The murmurs of our voices rise and fall here in the dark, where the shadows of the past fail to find us, because right now we are someplace they can't get in.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Some years ago, I was kicking it in Austin with my best friend from childhood. We had been girl talking until late in the evening, and then she had told me she was tired and was going to bed. I laid down on the inflatable air mattress futon with my little son, but had a hard time sleeping over the next hour or two, because of the cacophony of laughter and muffled conversation coming from the master bedroom, where she laid with her husband.
I remember being annoyed by this. I had driven all that way to visit her and longed for late night analyzing of people and relationships, the way we were when we were in high school and college. What she was doing with her husband, that kind of inside amusing conversation, is part of what I had driven all that way for. I felt like she had lied to me by telling me she was tired as an excuse to go hang out with her husband instead. But he's always here, I thought, and I hardly ever am, why can't she spare the time for me now instead?
For a certain amount of our adult life, I felt like this friend tried to make me jealous by deliberately showing me or telling me about things that she knew I didn't or would never have. For instance, I remember her once talking about how much closer she and her husband were after traveling to foreign countries where they both knew very little of the language there. I was telling my sister about some of her comments like that, and she said, "well, you should say, well, having a baby together, you should see how close THAT makes you," to one-up her at her own game.
The problem with that is, it wasn't all that true. At some point, I realized that perhaps some of my perception of this issue with her stemmed from my unhappiness with my own life, and that just being happy for her when she showed me these things was in fact the only right response.
It was the only response that wasn't self centered. After all, she wasn't the one responsible for my life being different than hers. Just because she didn't know what "the Other Side of the Bed World" was like doesn't mean I should punish her for it by not genuinely being happy for her when she had things, even if they were things I didn't.
I didn't understand for the longest time why my girlfriends didn't have the same need to talk that I did. For years, it felt like I was the one who called them, who maintained the relationship, who wasn't too busy to pick up the phone or to have a long conversation perched on a chair in my backyard, or the front porch. I didn't understand why, if they had the same number of kids I did and the same amount of work inside and outside the house, why did they not have the time for me?
Lately, I have been figuring it out. For twelve years of my life, I had a roommate who had little connection to me, though we were bound by legal and responsibility matters. We knew each other, but we weren't each other's best friends, and certainly not the ones we turned to with our deepest and closest secrets. Now I don't have time to call my girls anymore. So much of my attention is focused on this man I live with now, and what I don't give him, I am giving to my kids. I don't have all that much to say to those outside anymore, because the language between us is different, and things that are so exciting and hilarious to us would seem probably pedestrian and mundane to the outside world.
The other night, an hour or so after I had tucked the kids in, this man and I were still awake between the sheets, talking and joking around. I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe, ribs hurting, whole body shaking with the effort of trying to be quiet about the hilarity, while in the other room, my son yelled at us, "GO.TO.BED!", the same words and same tone I might have been using a year or two ago at him and his brother, who by now was long fast asleep. The next day, I was kind of laughing to myself about that, and finally, I think I understood my friend a little better.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The first time he drove me to the house we live in now, it made me sad. I think he was misinterpreting the reasons why; it wasn't quite as selfish as he made it out to be. It was his pain and confusion that made me cry, not mine. It was the whole idea of building a life around someone and having that person just disappear, a figment of the past. It was sadness, over his divorce and over mine, over this mutual experience that both brings us together and sometimes stands in our way.
It was seeing her touch all over this house that made me sad, the little things that were obviously the selection of a woman, a selection a man would concede to only out of love or compromise. It was the fact that so many of her things were still all over this house, the litter of a woman who betrayed him and then walked out, treating marriage like the sham it might have been instead of a condition that implies a solemn vow to work out problems when they arise, not run away from them. I had thought of him living in that house for the few months afterwards, sleeping on a bed that belonged to her, on bedding she picked out, watching curtains she chose stirring in the fan of the night. I thought about him changing who he was to appease this woman who would just shit all over him and then walk out, leaving all this behind her for him to deal with.
It makes me sad, and it makes me angry sometimes. I think she did not realize what she had, because to me, he is like the most precious of all elements. He would do anything for the people he loves, even put up with her annoying habits and inability to give back in the same ways. He is so special to me that I cannot understand how anyone could have hurt him, or, even less, not valued him the same way that I do.
When we had started out, I wasn't thinking about her. I didn't think about her on our first date, during our first kiss, during the first time we made love. Now I can't stop thinking about her. Thoughts of her ride beside us in most everything we do, and he doesn't understand this. "She's not even worth wasting brain cycles on," he tells me, and I know this, rationally. I know that what he has to deal with is so much more that I don't have even the right to be bothered by his past with her. After all, he is willing to accept my two children fathered by my ex, helped me move from the house I had shared with this other guy, sift through all the mutual belongings and memories of 12 long years, even deal with this man face to face, while I will probably never have to see her again.
Yet I think about her over Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with his family. I wonder if they consider me a better or worse replacement for her. I wonder if they liked her gifts or presence better, if she told better stories or was easier to talk to. I think of her as I use the things she left behind. He tell me, "they are just things", yet sometimes it bothers me that she had them, or that she left them there. It was her fanny pack I wore this morning to carry our water, camera, and other geocaching equipment during our caching bike ride, doing the things she was not willing to do with him. It is her coffee maker I used to brew the coffee I am drinking right now. It bothers me to have such an intimate relationship with her things.
Yet, these things are functional, like he says, and better to have someone use them who will appreciate them then throw them away. I wonder how she could have thrown him away, how she could have seen him as disposable, and how much better or worse off he is for the recycling. I don't like it that someone that was not even worthy of him could have been given the opportunity to do more damage to him than the women of his past had done.
Sometimes I look at her picture on the internet. I stare at her face, trying to figure out how someone as wonderful as him could have chosen someone like her. I compare myself to her, and wonder if he finds me more or less attractive, or if I cook better than her, or if she would have been a better mother to his children than I am to mine, or maybe to his one day.
There are things I know that make me feel better when those feelings become too painful or sharp to deal with. I know I can give him so much more. I know that the reasons he was unhappy with her will never be the reasons he would be unhappy with me - that I am a willing companion to share all his adventures with, that we love the same things, that it is a given that when he suggests going for a walk, or a hike, or a bike ride, that when he wants to go geocaching, I am smiling and happy to be doing that exact thing. There are so many little complaints he has about her that he will never have about me. Plus, I adore him so much that any dissatisfaction on his part would prompt me to adjust to his preference.
And maybe it is just simple jealousy or insecurity on my part. Some of that certainly is wrapped up in these emotions, as well as some competiveness. I know that drive makes me wonder if these feelings aren't positive in some way, because they re-commit me daily to taking better care of him than she did. If it wasn't for that, or for my past, it might be easier to take him for granted, but I never will, I know that. I will appreciate what this man has done for me for the rest of my life, as the way he has lifted me I can never pay back except for complete devotion.
He wonders when I will get over this, the carrying around of her in my mind. He has moved on, and doesn't understand why I can't. Someday I will, I know. Give me a few years. Let me have the same amount of time she did, some of the same things, some things that are different, some things that are so full of awesome that she could never compare - and I will get over her presence eventually.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hey...psst....over here...'s thematic....
so all posts not related to the theme will still be posted here.
To be continued....