Sunday, July 30, 2017

One Decade of Divorce

Monument Valley, 2007

On July 30, 2007 at 7:37 p.m., I sent out this email to my closest friends:

Dear Friends,

I hope you'll forgive the mass email approach here and bear with me.  I
learned yesterday that xxxxx is in love with someone else and plans to
remarry and start a new family.
I wish I could tell you all in person one-to-one over a good stiff drink,
but I'm afraid I'm not up to that at the moment.
What I need mostly is advice, and for those of you who are local a couple
of contacts.
1) therapist for me-not too far west
2) a divorce attorney
I know news like this can shake things up a bit for everyone, especially
old friends.
Thanks for listening.

Wish all of us luck.
I don't think I'll be able to talk on the phone in case you were thinking
of calling.

But just to be clear, my decade of divorce is not counted from the date of the decree of divorce. That happened a year later. And the division of joint assets was not in place until July 11, 2011. So there will be more anniversaries to "celebrate," but to me it's the end of the marriage that is most significant. The end of that 30-year relationship was, for me, a loss of identity and the loss of a family that I loved. This decade since the end of the marriage, I've constructed a new me--a person related to the person I was then, but also quite a bit different. I don't miss the old me. But, if I'm honest, I still miss the family. That us. That unit. I don't idealize it. It was awful some of the time, (as most families are?) but there's something lost that's irreplaceable. It's gone. Permanently.

"Really, do you want that?" I once said to a friend who was playing around with the idea of an affair. "You may never have Thanksgiving dinner with your family again." That and a million other things large and small will happen.

What I regret most is the small hurts that accumulated over the years of my marriage and not really having the skill and the strength to mend them.

I do not want to be a gatherer of small hurts.
I do not want to be a deliverer of small hurts. 

The beginning of this last decade was almost insurmountably difficult. I remember every kind thing, dear family and friends. Cups of tea, glasses of wine, home-cooked meals, your hospitality, your love, your words, your open ears, your waiting arms. I slept in so many comfy beds under so many roofs. You walked with me, drove with me for thousands of miles, held my hand on airplanes, sat with me in hotel lobbies and in parked cars, and sang to me. You told me things would be okay, and somehow, somehow you made me laugh. I have lived my life this past decade because of your help. My life has been a litany of love.

Thank you.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Welcome Back, Ethel.

Ethel, Sept. 2013

My mother's ashes were returned to my brother's house in our hometown in Iowa last week. Her body spent well over a year at the University of Iowa Medical School, and this past several months I was longing for the end of it all--the end of the end, when we'll put her ashes into the ground next to my father. 

When the mail carrier brought the box to the door, she told my sister-in-law that she'd been traveling around all day "with this nice lady." I think my mom would have enjoyed a day riding around with the mail carrier a lot. She loved to just take things in. She could look out the window or sit on the patio for hours. She might report on the hummingbirds, which boats had been cleaned, and even opine on why a neighbor might have had to sleep on his boat the previous night.

My mom and I, watching the pelicans dive between the sea lions, Feb., 2013

I'm glad she's back where she wanted to be. Of course, really, she'd probably prefer being here among the living, sipping a martini.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What the Yoga Teacher Said, and How the Ocean Is

gratuitous photo of a heron

When you engage your strength on your mat during practice, it helps you be strong when you step off your mat. When you breathe deeply on your mat, you might remember to take a deep breath later in your day when you really need it.

Something like that, anyway. Pretty close. Sometimes I have the feeling that all we can do is paraphrase one another--even if we say the exact words. But no doubt about it, yoga has made me stronger.

And the ocean is the ocean is the ocean. And after five years of living one mile from its shore, I run (not literally) to it to see what it looks like today.

Sometimes it's nice to look the other way.

Beach etch-a-sketch? At first I saw only the straight lines. Then a dog or maybe a horse.