Monday, August 11, 2014

On Days and Dates

 Sometimes you think you can fly, only to be destined to drown.

And so we stay earthbound. "Should have". "Would have". Those are words in all of our hearts, at least once. We recall much of a life as each year passes, candles on another cake, warm breath against the flames. But what do you remember most, the best day of your life or your last regret?

The difference is profound.

I look at my Dad, and when Big Bro's name is mentioned he gets this look of profound grief on his face, even as I've learned to get through the day as a stoic. He is a man who is not Time's trinket and for him, my brothers collapse and death on Good Friday was if it was yesterday.

But he'd not have given up the experience of adopting and raising him, both of us, for any happier ending.
I remember a few short years ago, when I thought my heart was in pieces, not likely to heal.  A fractured goodbye, and the realization that the person I had cared for, who had asked to meet my family and had done so, was a breathing ghost. I was left with just a rose, drying between two pages, the blood from an internal thorn let tearing something loose inside, the print of nose against the glass of a skyscraper where I leaned into it so the tears couldn't be seen. Afterwards, I wondered if life was even worth living, there in that brief darkness before there is light.

But I didn't go down that path, the thought only one of brief self pity, not intended to be action. I had a really good cry or two and a giant plate of Nachos and a beer or three with a six foot pony-tailed blond, who has always been my rock among best friends. Then, after a long night's sleep and an even longer bike ride, I picked up the phone and called a guy friend, someone I had chatted on line with for years. I knew he would understand.My boyfriend and I broke up", was all I said, and he listened, as he always did while I talked it out, and tried to put it behind me.
It wasn't the first time my heart had broke, and wouldn't be the last, but the feeling peeled something from me, like skin from an onion, leaving nerves exposed to a cold that bit with weasel teeth. It brought back a memory of that first loss of someone I loved and  a memory of how I handled it. For that first time my heart broke, I did what a lot of people do. I pushed everyone away, pushing my boundaries, sometimes hanging up high in the air, the g-forces on my body a distraction from the pain, the air parting like the Red Sea, my only need to move on at maximum risk to my body, and minimum risk to my soul.

I wanted nothing from the world but the ability to push through it without being touched.  I talked little to people but much to the sky, whispering to it my regrets as I rolled through 40 degrees of bank, taking counsel with that great blue solitude.
You think that cheating death like that would make me feel alive but for a time, it was a battle without passion, grey and colorless, with neither the urge to win, or the fear to lose, played out before an arena with no audience.  I came within a few knots of a final pronouncement more than once, and found that I had nothing left to say.

The only sound was the wings cleaving the air, a sound that is like all other sounds of profound mystery, the lap of a wave upon a shore, the echo of taps, the whispers of a voice that speaks to you in dreams from an eternity away, heard but not comprehensible.

I lost out on a lot of life during those brief years.
This time, I was a bit older, and a little scar tissue and I weren't strangers, having been through much worse than breaking up a budding relationship. This time I was going to open myself up to friends and get out and enjoy my life with the four legged friend who had taught me that lesson. With Barkley in tow, we got out and we talked and we learned to laugh again, and in fairly short order. There was whiskey and bacon and late nights with two good friends laughing as we compared the merits of Barry White versus William Shatner and Greensleeves or Zamfir and his Pan Flute as music to get lucky by. On one of the rare days I let that last heartache get the better of me, one of those friends said "if you had to do it all again, knowing it would teach you how to feel again, would you"?  I looked her and said "hell yes."

I didn't see my friend  that I called that night for a few months, our talks continuing with the usual matters between people that share hobbies and books, even if they don't share the same generation. Then one night he mentioned a date with a ballerina, and I pictured them out, young, beautiful, laughing and felt something twist in my chest that had not been there for a while. But I didn't say anything.
Then one day he called me after landing from a  long business trip overseas and asked me to an event we both loved, not a date, just a typical outing with friends someplace upstate.  I said yes and plans were made. After hanging out all  that day, he asked if I wanted to get a bite to eat once we'd had a chance to get cleaned up (playing with steam engines all days can get a little dirty) and we located a couple quick burger places near our respective hotels.  He showed up at my door dressed in dress pants and a crisp shirt, and the burger joint I was expecting as planned, turned into a intimate, elegant bistro, a glass of wine, and  a conversation about things much deeper than the night, things only hinted at, never said.

Halfway through the meal I thought  to myself "holy cow, this is a date".

That was three years ago this week.  That date is now my husband.

Because he asked.
How often do we stay silent, when we are searching, when we need help, when we are hurt?  How often do we shut ourselves away when we want a cool touch upon the brow or a hand that helps us up a steep slope. There is so much that can keep us from the truth of things, holding us in that toil of a heart's hesitation.

Sometimes it's pride, sometimes it's hurt. Sometimes it's history.  Often it's the fear of being rejected  The safety stays on, the mouth stays closed and while we think we are protecting ourselves, we're merely closing a door on life, one that can be as fixed as one of a prison.  In doing so sometimes we lose a friend, we lose an opportunity or we lose on love- that improbable, inexplicable and sometimes bewildering thing that binds us together despite our blood, or through it.
A fellow I knew professionally, lamented to me in a moment of vulnerability after a very late night on the job that his old high school crush was marrying someone else.  I said "did you ever ask her out" and he said "no. . . I knew she was say no, she was beautiful and popular and I'm. . . . ", accepting the words as he uttered them with an almost eager fatalism. That which makes something its truth also makes its meaning.  I should have offered comfort, but I remained silent, not knowing what to say.

So he and I just continued to work, in silence, our untrammeled feet taking us to a place rendered quiet not by solitude, but by loss. We worked on, blind and deaf to any emotion but the gathering and I realized I should have said something, if only, "next time. . . ask" said with a smile, and a hug from a friend, not a colleague.
On a week where another birthday comes and goes, I look at what is around me, and how I almost lost it, lost myself, simply by never taking the chance, listening to my fears, and not to my heart.  For the past does have a way of coming back to us.  You can fear in in silence, treating it as if you would an unwanted dream or you can learn from it, remembering it like a fine book, full of wonders and maybe occasional warfare, but as full of life as  the landscape around you.

For what I've learned in 50 some years on this planet, is the earth is simply a standing place and how you look at what is around you is your loss or your gain.
The sky and water weld together without joint, the sun descending down, touching the lake with a soundless hiss.  Soon, the moon would spread over this place with the thick sheen of silver. This is just one day in time, one day to be cataloged in memory.  The living trees, the flowers planted by another's hands, so still they appear to have been formed in stone, even to the smallest bud, the feather stroke of a tiny leaf.

I touch the porch railing of this old house, tracing it the way fingers trace a human backbone, there under the skin, in silent perusal of that which becomes wonder. Another year older, another day wiser.  I could worry about, or I can just give my best friend and partner a T-Shirt that says "I Can't Drive 55" and we will laugh, a sound that  will bend the trees and shake the fixed stars in the sky.  I turn towards the door, where there is a light on, awaiting.
Love - Brigid

14 comments:

  1. "Because he asked."
    I was a skinny nerd in high school.
    A girl I was friends with from the school play was gorgeous.
    My friends taunted me to ask her out.
    One day we were talking and I mentioned that.
    She asked why I didn't, so I did.
    To the prom.
    She said yes.
    A year later, I watched, from a bar in Biloxi, as she walked across the stage on the tv as Miss Michigan, in competition for Miss America.
    Think my buddies believed me?

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  2. "Because he asked."
    At last year's 4th picnic, my nephew introduced his girlfriend.
    Scherie talked to him for a while.
    He wanted to marry his girlfriend, but was afraid to ask.
    She told him to ask.
    This 4th, we were introduced to his wife.
    He had asked soon after talking to Scherie.

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  3. Wise words.
    Funny, I was determined not to get attached. I was going to just enjoy the moment. That's when I met Michael, and the rest is history.

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  4. Good for Master Barkley for getting you ready.....
    Good for Mr Grime for asking when you were.

    Rich in NC

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  5. It seemed for so many years, I was always "one of the guys" and I was happy to be accepted as that, despite the obvious gender difference. I was the one my guy friends called when they had girl troubles, I was the one they hung out with, but never had a date with...

    DH and I met at a bike shop where I was working PT to pay for my bike addiction. Our first real date? A trip to the indoor pistol range in KCK! (I asked him, not the other way around!)

    And yes, I too would do it all over again.

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  6. Good story B I've learned the truth of the heart knows saying. Going through the dissolution of an almost eighteen year marriage (her choice) as I write these words. Be happy and enjoy togetherness and solitude for the duality they are.

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  7. I knew I would get to read this post one day. I knew it would only come about once you reached the other side. Only a matter of time. And it arrived exactly the way I had hoped it would.

    So many of us have seen that dark side, and all of it's ugliness. So many of us always take on the pain ourselves when it and the guilt isn't entirely ours. So many strong people can also loose their footing, unexpectedly, and just as spectacularly as everything else we do. The reassurance doesn't come from just the happy ending, it just as importantly comes from knowing the trek through. Knowing it's possible, if we allow ourselves to. Through to the part where we figure out what we really should be doing, and not so much dwelling.

    Those of us who know that familiar pain have sensed it here all along. We see glimpses and bits and parts. For the many who experience it, we also look to others who have too - even better: the ones who survived and thrived. Even though we know it's possible, the "proof" is a reassuring boost. I doubt very many humans escape it, but not all find their way out safely to the "other side". Which is where we belong but don't always get there due to self sabotage and that "drowning feeling".

    So, thank you. For being so honest and revealing. And happy birthday, one more year older but one more year all the more wiser :)

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  8. Congrats to you and partner.

    I kinda felt the same the same way, and then I met my mate.....

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  9. Golden words, as always, my friend.

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  10. Believe me, there is no greater comfort and joy in life than being married to your best friend.

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  11. There is much wisdom in this post. "Go ahead and ask" is wonderful advice!

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  12. This post, and some of the comments, gave me pause...I have had periods of time where remaining cocooned in my own head seemed a better choice than reaching out for a conversation, or a hand.

    I still have some of those moments, but I have learned to reach out for that conversation or the hand, and I am that much closer to riding the waves in my life, rather than struggling to stay afloat.

    Thank you for your ever-so-poetic way of sharing some very true wisdom.

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  13. Thank you everyone, not only did I have a good birthday, even if Dad, at 94 did not remember, my Father-in-Law, True Blue Sam and his lovely wife, sent me a beautiful card that I got today.

    Life is good. God is good.

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