Yesterday I dressed in an ecru bra and black linen sleeveless sundress; clearly I wasn’t thinking. As the morning progressed and my bra strap occasionally peeked out I couldn’t be bothered with walking upstairs to change either dress or bra. Laziness, thy name is moi. I am vain, terrifically vain, so gave this more thought than it deserved or was healthy, wondering if I was giving up. Giving up on all kinds of things, maybe.
Sunday we attended a hippie-loving-hands-at-home-wedding where the groom brewed special wedding beer and guests were freely toking throughout the ceremony. It was lovely. It was intime and only people who deeply love and adore the couple were in attendance. We’d had to park well off-site and be off-road shuttled in: our driver, Donnie, was a lovely man in his seersucker sport coat and jaunty chapeau. He’d been living in the Peruvian jungle working with indigenous people to build clean-water projects but now, as a rock-and-roller (his words), lives farther up the mountain with his lady, her son and their infant. Before driving us back down he was smoking a joint and drinking a beer, which admittedly made me wonder precisely who was the designated driver …. The H.J. surprisingly didn’t drink much given our darling rock climbing groom’s array of home-brew, but that was probably because the Big Angel had joined us. As an infant and then brand-new toddler he’d attended some weddings with us, but we’ve had an eight year dry spell, so this will be his first remembered wedding. I’m glad it was such a festive, warm-fuzzy wedding so that is what he’ll imprint, not the show-off / payback / stress-factory / bankruptcy-inducing spectacle so many have become.
Age-wise we made no sense: the couple and their friends were all in their late-twenties / early-thirties, and their parents and aunts and uncles all in their late-sixties and older. We also weren’t loaded which changes the dynamics of chit-chat. There was a heavily-pregnant woman with whom I could have spoken but emotionally I just couldn’t. I am feeling anger at women who still have the potential of a live, healthy child. I know it’s part of the process (yawn), part of my seven stages of grieving my Cushla. Instead I observed the younger couples, none of whom are married but all of whom gave off that glow of young, passionate, ideal love. That’s a Big Fat Lie, of course, as people have irritating habits to which I’m not privy and weddings bring out the romantic, the romanticism: couples feel more loving, dance closer, make googly eyes at one another ….
Driving Little Angel to SLP hippotherapy (communication therapy conducted on horseback) we passed a green combine on the main road, making a right turn. I love that living here, that sight is not unexpected: a combine on the main road. One of the administrators at the hippotherapy riding center was wearing a gorgeous red-and-white block-printed kurti; she and her husband had lived in India earlier this century. Shortly after they moved to this state she started working at the center and that’s how we met: I was also wearing an Indian frock and we bonded. Jewelry and clothes – I’m on it. Rabidly. As I sat in the outdoor viewing pavilion I saw her in her pretty top and waved to her; she sweetly came over so we could chat. Turns out after a ten year relationship she and her husband had divorced, and I wasn’t sure how to react; I wasn’t sure because I was using her as my guide, and she seemed comme ci comma ça. So I asked her how she was, and we talked for the entire therapy session. Our conversation was a gift, a gift both in terms of substance but also because I’d thought I’d just read and observe Little Angel’s session. Instead I got to engage in a meaningful and personal exchange. Of course both the power of saying “fuck off, idiot” and eating Nutella straight out of the jar were extolled.
Relationships are hard and to the outside world so deceiving. This woman is over-the-top physically gorgeous and her ex-husband quite handsome, too: people who saw them would comment that they were “the perfect couple.” She elaborated “yeah right – we go home and don’t even speak to one another because nothing is right.”
I told her about the wedding, how envious-bordering-on-jealous I was of the young couples, of that hope, the optimism, the fluttery excitement, the belief that everything will be fine and that life won’t shoot you in the face. I told her that people lie, mostly not intentionally, but that in our society we don’t air all kinds of “personal” business, so we gloss it over or outright prevaricate. Maybe it’s to obey those social constructs, maybe it’s to protect ourselves from the outsider glare of judgment, maybe, and I believe most seldom, is it to make you feel bad that you aren’t as Happy, Lucky, In Love, Rich, etc. as the speaker. Some people are like that. I occasionally was in my hubristic and very insecure (emphasis on insecure) past. She laughed in recognition.
One of Little Angel’s volunteers is a new-ish mother. She was telling me that her husband stays home with their infant while she volunteers, and then is so proud of himself and wants lots of encomium for changing a diaper or being one-on-one with their child for ninety minutes. He may or may not be a douche – I don’t know. I do know that’s how she’s feeling. When I realize the H.J. and I have been changing diapers for nine years and will for the rest of our lives (as Little Angel has no awareness of bodily functions), and that the H.J. has never once looked for praise or felt it wasn’t equally his duty, I realize he’s good. There are some things about him which hurt me, but in terms of doing some of the heavy-lifting, he is just as involved if not more so than I. He dresses the Little Angel for bed every single night. He gives Little Angel nearly all his baths. He makes Little Angel’s chewies.
I love my romance novels – well, “love” is a strong word because the implausibility coupled with the horrendous misspellings / grammatical errors / inconsistencies are really pissing me off – but they are damaging. They show a world which doesn’t exist and for me most likely never will. Not solely me because it’s just not real life, and if you’re already in a negatively self-reflective mood, it’s not helpful. The H.J. is never going to call me “baby” or any term of endearment: he doesn’t even believe in using the person’s name when speaking to them. Would I like to hear a sweet nothing or even my name? You bet. Is it important? I don’t know. Is it the most important? No.
(Do I adore Robert Evans? Clearly.)
Driving home from Little Angel’s therapy I was thinking back on my twenties, hitchhiking through central France, backpacking through South America, living in SEAsia, bonfires on beaches with my then-clique of Japanese and South African friends, climbing pyramids, repeatedly falling in love with various boys in various countries, etc. and now, through the hazy filter of being forty-four do I see that romanticism. I had it, too. Of course I didn’t see it, appreciate it, revel in it for what it was then. I couldn’t, callow youth! I feel so detached from it, though. I drive a minivan (which is the world’s most fantastic car) up-and-down to therapies, change diapers, coordinate orthodontia, wear an ecru bra with a black dress. My past isn’t me, doesn’t feel like me. I think I need to work on reconciling the various mes.