Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Beloved and the Glass on the Night Stand


Now anyone can marry in the state of California. For all who have fought long and hard for access to this institution, you are welcome to it. I was a June bride seventeen years ago. Our wedding was small and tasteful and there was, as is inevitable, some bad behavior. I read a great novel called Wishbone by Tom Perotta about a wedding band and was reminded of all the conventions and trappings that define ritual marriage in the U.S. of A. Garters and bridesmaids and rehearsal dinners and and and…it all just seems icky. We did the wedding thing. It was nice. Did it change our relationship or have any bearing on the way we are connected at this moment? No. We observe our anniversary, albeit modestly, each year but it really is just an arbitrary date and is largely irrelevant.


Himself took Spuds to the Dodger game yesterday but became highly annoyed when I left him some cash and told him to stop at the Von’s for a snack for the little man instead of spending big bucks at Chavez Ravine. “He just ate his dinner!” Himself wailed at me. Himself does not snack as a rule and is repulsed by the recreational eating habits with which I have poisoned his progeny. The fifteen year olds’ posse had pretty much cleaned us out of snacks but I smuggled Spuds my last pack of Mike ‘N Ikes and a water bottle. My beloved returned from the game grousing about enormous people imbibing enormous quantities of beer and nachos. His disgust at this was somewhat mitigated by having found a dime in the parking lot.

I told him that I was discontinuing my regular visits with Leslie and I expected him to say, “Well of course you are, you’re perfect.” He did not say that and seems perhaps to feel that he has an unwritten contract with Leslie to turn me into less of a bitch. I talked about the cellphone thing again with Leslie and ascribed some of it to a sort of technology retardation but there is also a selfishness to it. I have resorted to public humiliation and nothing has changed. I will express anger each and every time I am inconvenienced by his inaccessibility due to the $35.00 a month phone being turned off. It’s not a deal breaker and I’m not going to leave him because of it. This standoff is a symbol to me of the perfection we will never attain but continue to strive for. I bug the shit out of him too. But for the most part, we piss each other off less frequently and with reduced severity with every passing year.

In ticking off items on the table of mental heath variables with Leslie during our last session (although I do have a check up scheduled in a month) I may not have become the Stepford wife my husband was hoping he could purchase with his hard earned cash, things do add up to a reasonable sanity. I have been reading a lot of novels, going to bootcamp religiously, practicing yoga and taking the time to write here. My house is a mess. Our garage makes me weep and my kids desperately need haircuts. My dad, who always made me feel guilty for not working hard enough, has been dead over six months. My mother’s sterile lonely house was sold and desecrated many months ago. I will never work as hard as my dad did and my home will never be as fastidious as my mom’s. I frequently tell their voices of disapproval which resonate in my head to shut the fuck up. And then I have to remind myself whose voice it really is.

The business is all mine now and the air conditioning is out and the roof should be replaced and there is always equipment on the verge of malfunction or obsolescence. Payroll keeps me awake at night. My husband envies my freedom of self employment and I envy him the check that comes in every two weeks like clockwork. I haven’t touched my dad’s office although Richard is starting to grunt about it so it’s just a matter of time. I cherish so much of his legacy but my father also had some spectacular failures. He made some terrible decisions and trusted people he should not have and lost an enormous amount of money in a number of different schemes, many of which I cautioned him against. This makes me a bit shy about the risk taking imperative for the survival of my business. I look at my dad’s failures and feel more tender because he truly believed in every venture and worked as hard as he could to make a go. I love the children’s theatre. It has held our community together for almost a decade and has brought joy to my children. Last weekend’s production had some lovely moments and was beautiful to look at but overall, to my mind, it was a spectacular failure. Good, smart experienced people who tried to redirect this juggernaut, like me in attempting to counsel my dad, were ignored. None of this had anything to do with lack of hard work or good intentions. I pray for the strength to work as hard as loved ones who have failed, but also, for the sagacity and humility to listen to the good smart voices I am blessed to be surrounded by.

I had a tooth pulled last year and went through the steps to prepare for a dental implant. I discovered that with the necessary bone grafts the cost for an implant for a single molar would have been over $2500.00 and that not a penny of this would be covered by insurance. I might pay $2500.00 for a finger and perhaps even for a toe as I enjoy wearing sandals in the warmer weather but I put the kibosh on paying that much for a friggin’ molar. Today, I received from Nick a prosthetic molar, held in place by pink plastic straps. It is quite comfortable but I am advised that it should be removed before bed. This to me, is a huge step toward decrepitude, as while it is a single tooth only and not a full denture, there is the image of teeth (tooth…) in a glass of water on the nightstand. Nick even provided some effervescent denture cleaning tablets, a huge fucking kick in the ass closer to the grave.

And it is a dance towards inevitable death for me and my beloved. My life is loud and I love it. But, what I learned in therapy is that while I love the flurry of people and food and pets and my life in the city, my heart yearns to someday slip away to a quiet place with my beloved and send both of our cell phones off to a charity for soldiers or battered women or deaf children and perhaps with more than a single fake tooth soaking by the bed, spend our days nibbling tea and toast and reading and writing. And this is why, to me, ceremonies and dates have little meaning. The thing of it is that I have grown to love another human being so thoroughly and completely (except the cell phone thing) that I dream of forsaking many things which have and continue to give meaning to my life to live quietly and simply bask in love.

5 comments:

Fionnchรบ said...

Well, I guess you've humiliated yourself as much as me with this post. Neither Leslie nor I think that you are completely cured, but neither am I of "dysthymia," and I doubt (being Irish at the core) that any normal human being ever will. But, see my review a few days ago of Gerard Donovan's "Sunless" for more.

I do hope we can find our peace, with each other and within a calmer clime, soon. Let's try to make that happen. It gives me a direction on dreary days, and hope and comfort.

You're lucky the anniversary's closest enough to my birthday that you're able to dimly recall it each year! Not that I wish any more birthdays as reminders of my shrinking lifespan, but as you know so well, if I have to go the way of all mortals, I'm blessed to have found you so early on the way.

xxx me, a day and a month before our 17th official commemoration of our hitching day in yoke, tandem, or ketubah-documented matrimony!

harry said...

Bliss positional, theoretical and contractual.

Bliss that rolls in and out like the tides.

One fits into calendars, social institutions, and geography. One is found by paying attention. Or so it seems as the years (mercifully) stack up.

Happy b-day Juan and m-day to you both, as I am sure I'll forget the real days. Perhaps, like the rich and creature comforts, marriage is felt to be overrated by them that have it.

Chris Berry said...

Layne...now you've arrived...Due to my wild youth, I was putting my front teeth in a glass at night when I was 15...

Re: marriage...from my (admittedly) inexperienced perspective...I'm in total agreement with you...Don't tell Bob, but for me it's mostly political. His dad's informal blessing - sans wedding band, witnesses, open bar and embarrassing exchanges with long-lost relatives and friends was enough for me. Takes more than a party and a permit to keep two souls together for 13 years (in our case)...That said, if we end up having a permit party, I hope the Murphy clan will join us!

Chris Berry said...

Layne...now you've arrived...Due to my wild youth, I was putting my front teeth in a glass at night when I was 15...

Re: marriage...from my (admittedly) inexperienced perspective...I'm in total agreement with you...Don't tell Bob, but for me it's mostly political. His dad's informal blessing - sans wedding band, witnesses, open bar and embarrassing exchanges with long-lost relatives and friends was enough for me. Takes more than a party and a permit to keep two souls together for 13 years (in our case)...That said, if we end up having a permit party, I hope the Murphy clan will join us!

Chris Berry said...

Layne...now you've arrived...Due to my wild youth, I was putting my front teeth in a glass at night when I was 15...

Re: marriage...from my (admittedly) inexperienced perspective...I'm in total agreement with you...Don't tell Bob, but for me it's mostly political. His dad's informal blessing - sans wedding band, witnesses, open bar and embarrassing exchanges with long-lost relatives and friends was enough for me. Takes more than a party and a permit to keep two souls together for 13 years (in our case)...That said, if we end up having a permit party, I hope the Murphy clan will join us!