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"You know, you never did say you were sorry."
He looked at me from where he sat propped against the bed pillows, remote in his hand. "I didn't? I thought I had. Well...sorry."
I studied him as I did Monet, searching for clarity among a cataract blurriness. What was I doing with him? Why was I in his bed again?
"I'm sorry, too," I said, then kissed his cheek and stood.
"Are you leaving?"
For the first time, I looked at him through clear eyes. "Yes. It's light now."
Childhood family dinners. I sat at one end of the oval table, the end that used to be where the toilet sat before my parents remodeled, moving the bathroom and enlarging the kitchen. Was it a metaphor or a sick yet admittedly humorous foreshadowing of what I could expect in life, that fact that I ate my breakfasts, lunches, dinners at the spot where food came to die? The concept isn't as funny now that I'm older...
My sister and I loved oleo and would beg to have spoonfuls of it, another fact that turns my stomach now.
My friends calls, asks me what I'm doing. I tell her I'm writing. She doesn't say anything except "Oh," then tells me about her day, all the things she's been doing or not doing, the important mother things that take up all her time and keep her from indulging in "little hobbies," and I get the feeling that she thinks my writing is just that--a little, insignificant nothing that I waste time on, time that would be better spent in cleaning the bathtub or mopping the floor or sipping coffee while waxing eloquent about all my more "important" accomplishments.
I'm glad we're back in my hometown for the Fourth of July. I like that my children can experience the kind of holiday that I experienced when I was growing up: the parade, the fireworks, seeing the way the people of my tiny town come together and celebrate, which is much different than what they see in the city where they live. The parades back home are more fun for kids, with floats and people throwing candy. That doesn't happen in the city, where fear seems to have caused people to keep candy away and general apathy means no floats.
"I think I'm in love with Janice." Those weren't the words I expected to hear from the man I was married to, yet they were the ones coming from his mouth as he sat facing me on the living room couch. He said he would never act on his feelings--he had made a commitment to me--but how could I feel secure after hearing those words, that name? Even in my numbness, I realized that life would never be the same, and I think that subconsciously I was already planning for the escape I knew would have to come.
I wonder about the people who live alongside the freeways, those whose houses are fronted by the roar of near constant 75-mph traffic, the squeal of brakes, the smell of exhaust. Did they chose to live there, I wonder, maybe trading peace and quiet for a lower price tag and value? (Don't we all want to get more for our money?) Or maybe they were there first, watching as the blacktop was poured over land so close to them, refusing to surrender to the influx of six lanes of speeding metal and glass, not cowering, never leaving their homes.
Love blinds. I can look back now at a past relationship and realize how stupid I was, how eager to believe the best when what my blinded eyes couldn't see was that he was just feeding me a plate of bullshit. How easy it is now to see how dumb I was being, how much I wanted what he was saying to be true, how I couldn't fathom that he wasn't telling the truth and that the absurdity he fed me seemed perfectly logical and sincere. If I saw him again, would I throw it all back in his face?
Other Dana hasn't made an appearance in years, and I wonder sometimes where she has been, what made her pack her bags and leave. What happened to the woman who would spontaneously leave her apartment in the middle of the night, off to meet friends at a bar or party? What about that person who would just get in her car and drive, no destination in mind, letting the road take her where it would? And where is the woman who followed her heart rather than her mind, who loved and wrote and laughed, free and happy and always alive?
When I was in graduate school, one of my favorite English professors pulled me aside and asked me if I was dating anyone. I was with the man I thought at the time was the love of my life, so I told her I was in a relationship. She seemed disappointed to hear that, then told me she had hoped I could show her son, who wasn't from Marquette, around town. Later I told my boyfriend what she had asked, and he remarked that it would have been okay if I had gone--another warning sign I should have seen.
Today is my daughter's third birthday. I stayed up most of the night baking and decorating an Ariel cake, then wrapped her presents this morning. I wonder if I'll ever get my act together enough to be able to finish holiday preparations early, instead of doing everything at the last minute, as I always seem to do at Christmas time, wrapping presents late into the night so the kids can have their Santa excitement the next day.
Enough of that. My daughter is three. It's true what they say: the days are long, but the years are short.
I can only describe it as a creativity block. I don't know where my ideas have gone, why every notion I have of a new story seems to be lost the moment I start to write. I can't think. Ideas were easy when I was younger; they appeared in my mind. Now they have to be mined, extracted, pulled from dark corners kicking and screaming, only to disappear like a specter playing hide-and-seek with the living among the gravestones, a puff of smoke here then gone, a fragment of something that is never solid and never quite materializes.
I'm drinking my morning coffee--black--from a Santa mug, and he gazes at me with his signature eye-twinkle, and I imagine that he's trying to inspire my words, or at the very least encourage me in my writing, and it feels comforting, somehow, to have him (and the mug) beside me, like a friend I've been familiar with since childhood, someone who knows all my faults and talents, someone who can get me through word-drought and lack of creativity, a talisman or good luck charm for the times I need them to eke out the day's words.
We're traveling today, Friday the thirteenth, leaving my parents' house and going back home to New York. A couple of people had breathed out "ohs" when I told them our travel date, but I'm not superstitious in the least, even though my sister was once in a minor car accident on a Friday the thirteenth, years ago in October, back when we were in high school, but even then I didn't think of the date as unlucky, and I wonder where the idea came from--the films? Regardless of the origin, though, I count thirteen as lucky, for many reasons.
The second and longest day of our trip back home, and everyone is tired and cranky, eager to get out of the car at rest areas and reluctant to get back in and continue the long drive. For the most part, we're silent as we travel, even the kids, who seem to have grown tired of asking if we're there yet and how much longer. My husband is upset with me, so he's not talking much either, and the conversations we do have are strained and perfunctory, short bits of dialogue like "Do you need to stop?" and "How much?"
No matter how wonderful a vacation was, there's just something about walking back into one's own house, that feeling of comfort and security and home. We arrived late last night, and when I woke up in my own bed this morning, I felt peaceful, as though all was right with the world again, trite as that sounds. It's not that I don't like traveling--I do--but being surrounded by familiar things--my bed, my kitchen, even my laundry, all those loads waiting in the basement to be washed, dried, folded, and put away--is a good feeling, for sure.
I'm back from my two-week vacation, and although I had a great time, I'm starting to feel the "I need a vacation from my vacation" stress. I'm looking around at all the things I need to accomplish now that I'm home--suitcases to unpack; laundry to do; appointments to make; library books to return; food to buy (not to mention meals to cook)... I think coming home from a trip is more stressful than packing for one. Still, I'm glad to be back. I'm looking forward to catching up here and posting the 100 words entries I've been writing.
This was a horrible day, and I don't want to talk about the why because now, as I write this entry looking back on the day, I see how everything turned out well, truly by the grace of God, and something that began as the worst became the best, and my faith in God was strengthened, making me believe (again) in miracles and everything that I had thought I'd lost through my own mistakes and wrong paths, and now I feel new again, closer to where I used to be, closer to God, and I am grateful for it all.
This is killing me. I don't want to write about it because then the tears will come again, but it's all I can think of.
Will this be the first month since I began writing here that I don't complete the month's words? I'm not concerned about the entries I haven't posted yet; I have them. It's the new stuff--the current stuff--that I'm not sure I'll be able to finish. Writing right now is so difficult and so painful because the thing I should be writing about is something I don't want to put into words.
I still can't write the words. Yesterday I cried all day. My kids look at me and don't know what to do. They're five and three, so they couldn't understand even if I told them. I try to watch mindless TV shows -- try to distract my brain -- but it's always there. I've been managing to take care of the kids, keep them clean and fed, but that's about it. The rest of it -- laundry and cleaning and unpacking from our trip -- I just can't bring myself to do. And dinner? All I make are sandwiches, grilled cheese and egg salad.
Strange month. I've been bouncing around among these entries, working on catching up after vacation, and this one, on the twentieth, has ended up being my last. I'm writing it on July 29, two days after what would have been my grandma's 97th birthday, a day before my daughter's three-year well-child doctor visit, a little less than a month before my 40th birthday and my sixth wedding anniversary, four days before "my show" is on TV, a day before I need to call for appointments, twenty minutes before I need to get my daughter ready for her nap.
Sometimes I hate him so much. With everything that's going right now, he still expects me to be up to doing what
wants to do. The stupid pictures... Yesterday I told him that I don't feel like I can go, that I feel too sad with all that's happening, and he said we don't have to do it. Now today he's insisting we all go, that I
to go and pretend that life is all flowers and rainbows, and I'm just pissed off. Why does he always get his way? I fucking hate him.
I shouldn't have written what I wrote yesterday. I don't hate him. I'm just sad. Things are hard right now, and the little things seem to take on more magnitude than they should.
I don't have words. There aren't any.
Try to think of happy things: my kids playing in the front yard, the vacation we just took... I can't think of more right now. I feel blank.
My heart keeps breaking, and there's nothing I can do. I try--I try so hard--but I can't change things. And that's the hardest part.
It's Tuesday, really, but I'm just writing this now.
More on my stepson. My husband just got off the phone with him. He'll be here after August 1, and as usual, he doesn't know how long he'll be in town. Joy. I don't know what it is, but although he's always been civil, I get the feeling he doesn't like me too much. He's only thirteen years younger than I am, so that might be part of it. I always got along with his younger brother better. He's creative, too--writer, artist, filmmaker... We have more in common.
. It's a good show, one I can watch mindlessly for hours at a time, thanks to Hulu. I can't even say how much time I've spent with my eyes glued to the computer screen this past week, just watching the images go by and letting myself become way too interested in the lives of people I'll never meet in real life.
My husband's on the phone right now, talking to my oldest stepson. I overheard that he'll be in town soon, so now I'll have to clean the house. There's no love lost there.
The sky was a perfect blue today, the clouds like the ones I remember from my childhood, and I stared up at them this morning and was thankful, so grateful that prayers are heard and answered.
After our divorce, my ex-husband apologized to me, asking for forgiveness if he had caused me to lose my faith in God. He didn't, but there have been times I wanted to blame him. Truthfully, my faith has never gone. It has ebbed and waned, but not because of him. I have never lost it--and I won't lose it now.
I'm starting to feel like writing again. I woke up this morning with an urge to work on fiction or poetry...something creative. Before we left for our vacation, I bought a small journal with a floral cover, but I didn't write in it. Today I wanted to crack that cover and start filling the pages with something, yet I didn't. That overwhelmingly stifling feeling of having too much to say yet nothing to say came over me again. It paralyzes me, keeps me from doing much more than staring at the page, waiting for something--inspiration? luck?--to strike.
Every year I set a reading goal, and this year I'm finding myself falling behind. My goal is 110 books, but so far I've read only 49, which, according to Goodreads, puts me fourteen books behind schedule. I had hoped to catch up while we were on vacation, but with everything going on, I read only two books during those two weeks. My main distraction from reading this year has been writing, and so even though I might not make my reading goal, I'm happy that the fact that I'm writing more--continuing to follow my dream--is the reason.
Today I came face to face with one of my husband's past lovers, and unfortunately, it wasn't a real meeting--I didn't see her walking down the street or pushing a cart through the store. She doesn't live in town. No, the encounter was more disturbing: I found her picture here in the house, a picture that my husband had had drawn of him, her, and his two oldest sons. I asked him who she was, bracing myself for an answer I didn't want to hear. "Karen," he said, not adding what I already know: "the one I've always loved."
We stayed home today instead of going to church. Service times change in the summer, moving from 11 a.m. to 10 a.m., and with our two very young kids, we've been finding it hard to get out of the house on time. So now I'm writing (or trying to); my husband is watching the Olympics; and the kids are playing in the living room, no doubt waiting for me to make lunch. It's a quiet day--a nice day--but I admit to feeling guilty for not attending church. Still, I needed this day to clear my mind.
Camp NaNoWriMo starts on August 1. I don't know if I'll participate, which is kind of sad since the first day is so close. I have no idea what I'd write, although the chances are good that once again I would become a rebel, as that seems to be my NaNoWriMo inclination lately. I worked on a novel the first year I participated in NaNo, but in subsequent years, I did memoir and another form of nonfiction, which put me in the rebel category. I like being a writing rebel; I feel more creative when I do my own thing.
Maybe I say those things because I'm trying to convince myself that they're true--all those words that come tripping out of my mouth each night when you come home from work, tired and needing to relax, you say, and I only too happy to oblige...but for what? They're platitudes, I decided last night--phrases, clauses, words I spout to make you think I feel a certain way when in reality I'm not so sure that I do. My other thought--Who cares?--rings true as well, I realized today. I know for sure that I don't. Do you?
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