Saturday, August 18, 2007

All the stage is a world

The consummate actress stereotyped and playing the same role countless times until she knows the outcome from the first words. There are variations; there are always variations, but essentially the script is written. When they meet she is the most wonderful woman he has ever met, so challenging, bright, intuitive, and giving then things deteriorate slowly until she is no longer top of his to-do list, no longer the first thing he thinks of in the morning or the last thing he kisses goodnight in his mind, no longer the bright spot on his horizon, the cherry on his sundae, no longer the one person he cannot imagine his life without. She becomes an emotional millstone around his neck, the clinging vine that refuses to die and let go, kudzu that pops up wherever he forgets to rout it out and even where he remembers to dig its roots from his soul. He cannot move away far enough or fast enough. She gets the message but cups a tiny spark of hope between her praying hands even though she knows he won’t come back for more than a moment, the hot memory of sweat and kisses and breathless anticipation and the soft crash of wave after wave of unbelievable passion too soon over and best forgotten until the end when neither can handle even the aching touch of regret and goodbye. She goes on through a veil of tears and he moves back into the comfortable depths of his old life or moves on to someone new, always with the niggling thought that he is giving up more than he should until the memory refuses to drown, bobbing to the surface over and over, haunting his dreams and pricking his numbed heart until he comes back only to find she cannot go through another roller coaster ride. They both lose but promise each other never to forget.

End scene. Cue credits. Curtains close. Audience shuffles blinking in the sudden light to the exits and out into the darkness back toward home, the story fading slowly at first and then faster, swallowed by their own lives and chores and bills and regrets and choices.

The actress prepares for the next role, needing no study for what comes because she has played it all before. She was a professional. She always hit her marks, said her lines with conviction, making the audience believe what she believed. Another day to live, another role to play, another brief respite of happiness before the descent into another poignant and painful farewell until the script allows her to find happiness at last or she fades into the oblivion of silence for a while or forever.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In the darkness

Yesterday was my mother's birthday. She is now 77 years old and it is doubtful how long she will remain on this earth as she tugs and yanks on the cord that binds her to this existence. She is anxious "to go home" she says but twice she has released her hold and twice been shoved back. Home is not ready for her it seems. She struggles against the ties that now bind and gag her instead of accepting the decree and living what time is left to the fullest. Maybe that is why she has been denied a one-way ticket home, because she chooses not to live.

Life is a creation of moments and memories, a creation made by each person, a creation that begins in the excited fires of discovery that soon palls into a deeply rutted road in which we trap ourselves, blaming everything and everyone around us for our failure to enjoy what we have: not enough money, not enough time, not enough joy, not enough things, not enough, never enough. Complaints become the norm and the excitement of discovery and greeting those friendly elements that meant home and safety to us we forget or think ourselves too mature, too adult, too far above to appreciate any more, finding fault and creating the first stirrings of a darker horizon with what we cannot do instead of what we can. I am just as guilty. Once burned, twice shy is the old saying.

The country gentleman reminded me last night as we spoke in the darkness that I color my view of the future with darker colors, avoiding pain and anything that might lead to pain. I seemed to have forgotten that there is pain in birth, that we emerge from a safe, warm, and nurturing environment, thrust into a shockingly harsh, bright cold that borders on madness. We are briefly abandoned, blind and seeking, handled roughly, our protective coating ripped away, until finally we hear the voice that soothed and comforted us in the darkness. We learn to cope and as our eyes and our bodies adapt to our new environment we learn to explore, getting stronger and surer, finding treasure and pleasure we never dreamed possible while we lay suspended and warm and safe in the darkness.

As we grow older, we learn to fear the dark, forgetting how it once was, and we learn to hide in the darkness, but we seldom find comfort and safety in the darkness as we once did. Last night, I remembered how it was, a comforting voice laughing in my ear, while in the background we were wrapped in darkness while crickets sang in the grass and stars popped out in a sweeping spray of winking light and shimmering colors on the edge of awareness. I remembered how much I missed the simple sweep of a night sky full of stars and the music of crickets and friendship and I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and grateful to share my memories and my dreams, and even my fears. The country gentleman was right. I spend too much time weighing the future against the past, expecting pain where none has been offered, and wary of a sheep in wolf's clothing when I should just give in and enjoy the excitement of discovery and the peace and calm that come with every new experience, every single creative thought, and each and every moment of sharing.

Trouble will come soon enough and each moment's absence is precious. Home is here and not in some far off dream of paradise. Swords of fire guard the gate, but they are no more a deterrent than a hot August day when the merciless sun glares down from a brassy sky. There is shelter and calm and home in the darkness and a joyful voice as guide and companion when the sun goes down and the cool silver orb of the moon rises in a black sky full of soft, shimmering, colored lights where the crickets sing in the darkness.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Preventive health maintenance

The landlady has talked of nothing but getting Direct TV and getting rid of Comcast/Adelphia for months. She finally had the dish installed a week or so ago and has complained about it since then because it wasn't aimed in the right direction. She asked me to lean out the window to see if I could push it into the right position but that failed since the dish is bolted into position. Then came the two or three times daily bang and squeak and metallic slide of the extension ladder being slammed against the side of the house while Marius, the landlady's new very young friend who watches TV all night long, calls for the landlady to hold the ladder while he climbs up and "fixes" the dish again and again and again and again until I find myself enclosed in darkened rooms with the shades drawn against Marius (or whoever) peering into my bedroom window when I'm asleep or coming from or going to the bathroom in less than modest attire. It is, after all, my apartment and it has been hot and I'm sweating so modest attire is no longer an option. This morning Pastor barked wildly and the landlady went to the front door to let in the Direct TV repairmen, the men I suggested she call last week when all this ladder climbing and shouting and interminable adjusting of the dish began.

The real reason for the dish is because Marius was not happy with the dearth of available channels. He is the one who spends the most time watching TV and hanging around all day and all night with the sound up high enough so that I can tell what he's watching and what is being said (or played). Marius is maybe 30 years old; the landlady is older than I am, but she insists he is just her friend she picked up at the gym. Marius doesn't drive a car -- he doesn't own one. Marius is here all the time -- but he's just a friend. Marius doesn't seem to have a job but the landlady keeps him busy and supposedly pays him for his "chores". It's an interesting situation to watch even though she complains about him, too. He watches too much TV. He leaves the TV on all night. He didn't stick around long when he found out the regular cable would be out until the dish was installed. He wasn't happy because the dish wasn't aimed right. Seems like an awful lot of trouble for a friend, but then again . . . maybe not. She's German and Marius is from some middle European country. Maybe this is how things are done in Europe.

Meanwhile, my friend doesn't demand nearly as much of me. Instead, he provides me with laughter, lousy jokes that are actually punny, and an emotional closeness I've not found in anyone for very long or all that often. His wife died more than a year ago and we bumped into each other looking for the same thing -- a friend. He owns his own house and about 40 acres, a pond he built for his wife (a really BIG pond with a waterfall and common goldfish the size of a Cooper) and a gentle and infectious sense of humor. He also has hair almost as long as mine and a Yosemite Sam mustache that brackets a very nice smile. His dog is named Rowan and he is a true country gentleman, a product born and raised in Colorado, who has a love of archeology and a curiosity that almost equals mine. He does not, however, have my quick recall so he compensates by writing everything down on Post-It. I have a feeling that he either owns stock in the company or is its most notable consumer.

I've always believed that things happen for a reason. The people we meet, no matter how strange the relationship seems from the outside, are people we have either known or need to know and they appear at a time when we have thought ourselves out of the human loop. They bring us back into life and infuse our narrow world with a much needed injection of fun or insight we desperately need. I know my country gentleman's purpose in my life at this time. He is a vaccine against romantic notions and testosterone poisoning that usually leads me to wanting to take men permanently off the menu. So far, he is working better than expected and I'm glad he's here. I'm sure the landlady feels the same about Marius.

That is all. Disperse and find your own vaccine.