(Obviously, one of Edward Curtis’s finer photographs)
Sally was driving home from one of her businesstrips in Northern Arizona when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.
As the trip was a long and quiet one, she stopped
the car and asked the Navajo woman if she would like a ride.
With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into
Resuming the journey, Sally tried in vain to make
a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman. The old
woman just sat silently, looking intently at
everything she saw, studying every little detail,
until she noticed a brown bag on the seat next to
‘What in bag?’ asked the old woman.
Sally looked down at the brown bag and said, ‘It’s
a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband.’
The Navajo woman was silent for another moment or
two. Then speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said:
Shriveled grapes, sour grapes, stomped fermented grapes, raisins- I’m leaving town. Bonnie is oh-so-right about my attitude and Mary is citing the adage about absence making the heart grow fonder. I’m banking on it. And, yes, Bonnie- we did go see Julie and Julia. What a splendid film! I especially liked the part where Julie blogs about the great falling out with her husband, the one where he leaves because she’s too busy cooking and blogging to have sex with him. Ah, me. And that Paul Childs was a saint.
The truth about marriage is that it’s tough sometimes- really tough. I think we have a seven year itch thing going on around here, that involves scratching the eyeballs out of the other. Kidding. Really, I’m kidding. But here’s the thing: in seven short years together we have been through end-of-life illness and death of two parents, menopause, skin cancer, getting another parent into nursing care, two moves, three job changes (one that included loss of benefits and other securities that are important to 50-somethings) and children really, truly, once and for all leaving the nest. Rich has re-written the direction of his life’s work, along with a book. He’s transitioned from a life on the road as a single business man to married man with inherited diabetes. I have retired from a professional life that was more than a profession, that I loved with such passion, one where I had functioned as a successful and independent woman for decades. One that defined me. I loved my work the way Julia Childs loved hers. I have had to re-define myself as a zoo docent, a raptor rehabber, a fiber artist- and as a wife.
When a marriage fails early on and unexpectedly and then a woman struggles to re-organize herself as a self-reliant person who can build a life, raise children, make a home all on her own-well then, it’s hard to let go of that. Because you had to fight so hard to get there. So, I’m just saying. And frankly, people, the fact that Rich is the butter to my bread and the breath to my life sometimes becomes background noise to the sniping and spitting. Because one thing you sure as hell do not need after all those years of being the one and same person who both overstuffed the garbage disposal with fresh greens and unclogged the nasty mess, is someone in your face asking you why you overstuffed the garbage disposal with greens. Especially when you know more about plumbing than they do. I bet even Katharina Von Bora would agree.
You know how sometimes I disappear for days at a stretch from blogging? Well, I’m working on shit. As in, getting my shit together. I’m over here trying to learn how to be a married woman, for one thing. I don’t have decades under my belt as some of you do. Working on being a whole person, even minus her own income. Someone who makes a difference, even without patients. (Who I needed because they were, God forbid, analysts cover your eyes, MY therapy.) Someone who holds the gardener in her soul while contending with pavement and alley rats. A mother who can’t cook dinner for her children. And there you have the truth and the heart of the matter.
Still. He is the butter to my bread. And still. I’m leaving home for a bit. Not because of him, although I would probably take a break one way or the other right now, just to stir up that fondness, but it’s time for- wait for it! BCMA!
Yes, yes, you should all be insanely jealous. This is the week when I get to go to that small 1920s cottage perched high on the dunes of the undisputedly best lake in the whole world, Lake Michigan. And this is the week when I am with my most favorite people in the whole world, the women of Book Club, My Ass. Our baby girls went to pre-school together. Our sons played the North Seas Jazz Festival in high school together. We have been sick together, had parents die, suffered cancer, complained bitterly about spouses, dieted both successfully and not and wept together. But most of all, we’ve laughed together.
This is the week when 800 square feet fills up with nine women, more (and better!) food than was in all of Julie and Julia, plenty of chilled white wine, beach reads, scrabble games and WOOL. We will knit on our own projects, poke and knit on each others projects, lay out raw wool and debate various shadings and dyes. Everybody but Audrey will snore and deny it. We will go watch the judging of the alpaca and again consider seriously the possibility of stuffing one in the back of Audrey’s SUV to go live on her farm as our joint venture. We will watch sheep shearing. We’ll fondle smooth, one-of-a-kind spindles and needles and admire wheels and looms. We’ll go in together on a giant dye lot of expensive cashmere/merino because each of those foolish spouses back home need a delicious sweater the color of dusk over the lake, knit with love. (And then, because they wouldn’t really appreciate it, we’ll knit it up into something for each other and send it for Christmas or birthday.) In the evening, with the sun shooting blinding oranges and reds into the kitchen window, we’ll all be bustling about tossing goat cheese salads, adjusting the curry in the chicken sauce, mixing the cocktail du jour. Then maybe a long beach walk, a bon fire.
After those healing days, I’ll drive to Chicago, spread a blanket with friends, in front of the Frank Gehry Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and cast eyes and ears on my son, whom I haven’t seen in months. NOMO ends up their tour in this magnificent setting as part of the Chicago New Music Series.
And then the two of us- Dan and I- will go out and eat as much of the best Chinese food as we possibly can. After that we head up to Oshkosh where Bud has gotten himself healthy enough and strong enough to rebel against assisted living. He’s thinking if they discharge him soon enough he’ll be able to put in the dock and the pontoon boat, by himself, before snow falls in October. And he plans to install a new pump in the well housing, finish repairing the roof… We will need to have a family confab and the cycle of my life will resume.
I liked the line in the movie where Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) says, “I could write a blog. I have thoughts.”