Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Map Reader

Himself and I have been legally shackled for seventeen years. Life is more complicated than it was when we first met twenty years ago and we could stay in bed all day and then spend the night at a double feature. As much as we love ‘em, the consequences of unprotected sex suck up emotional, financial and time resources in a way I never could have imagined. Kids test a relationship and make for a different and a harder time in a bunch of ways. The mom thing and the work thing weary me and often I wallow in self pity, but when I look at the last twenty years with Himself, except for the cellphone, it takes me mostly to my happy place. Unable to make a bed and staggeringly parsimonious, nevertheless, my prescient beloved he has mined and nurtured beauty in me that I was blind to twenty years ago. The big "L" for Loser tattoo I’d always imagined across my forehead fades a bit each time I feel his love for me and often (if I’m not too busy screaming at ‘em) I see this love in the living, breathing, going through an astonishing amount of food, bodies of our boyos.

Our delight in one another has helped to wear away both of our feelings of hopelessness and self doubt. We have fought and screamed and slept apart and our marriage has survived all the wrong things we were taught and all the things we were never taught at all. We have grown braver and better for twenty years of duking it out and biting our tongues and holding so fucking fast it makes me weep to think about it. I cannot read a map and neither Him nor myself have been able to install Google Analytics so I can track how many people read this blog. I keep meaning to ask Carrie, fellow M.I.A. lover and the coolest chick in Drogheda, to set me up. I’ll get around to it and will probably be a bit blue if there are fewer readers than I expect and tickled if there are more.

I told the fifteen year old that this blog here is in many ways my greatest creative accomplishment. I have written an average of twice a week for nearly two years, over a hundred thousand words, I figure. I have other projects in various stages of development which I think also convey my quality as a writer but this blog, in tandem with my therapy, is a compass for someone who is unable to read maps. I might get a bit wistful if the analytics show that Himself is my only reader. But when I do write as if he is my only reader, I write down the bones, like the seminal writing workshop guide suggests and this results in my best work here. It is this self published, self absorption in this remote outpost of cyberspace, this hubris, that after trying to express myself with words my entire adult life, finally suggests I’m qualified to call myself a writer. I feel the writing here entitles me to take up that mantle and mindful of my beloved’s intuition and grace, I write here very much to make him proud. And I really ain’t afraid of no Google Analytics.

Someone wrote to me that "nothing teaches like failure" and this felt so cold and mean that I dashed off, "You are wrong wrong wrong! Nothing teaches like love!" But, now that I think about it, failure does teach and is unique in its pedagogical wallop. Maybe failure isn’t as terrifying to me as it should be. I have failed a whole bunch and I will fail again. I have learned, probably not enough, from past failures and pray that I am sage enough to learn from the future ones. The failure thing itself isn’t that scary. What’s scary is falling. Himself and I are engaging in serious discussion about how we live and how we want to live and the risk of failure we take as we more seriously contemplate a change in direction. We are evaluating if we are up to the challenge of living more fully by our wits and imagination, although perhaps, even giving voice to this at all is folly. I don’t want to fail and but of all the paths we face, none offers an iron clad guarantee of success. But the hardness and the meaness don’t really pertain to the miscalculations which result in failure. It’s the falling. But we are holding fast himself and myself and I may fail but I will not fall. This is a beautiful thing when you cannot read a map.

Our anniversary and Himself’s day of birth and the day in-between find us both suffering with work pressures and the tying up of too many loose ends before we head out of town. I am having a severe relapse of depression and it is not nice to be around a depressed person, particularly when it is your birthday or your anniversary but as one who has survived these spells for many years, he trusts that I am doing all I can towards making the symptoms abate. I will be forgiven for issuing a celebration raincheck in order to attend bootcamp because there is a correlation between running up that fucking hill with that fucking ball and the fucking restoration of hope.

Sometimes I choose the picture for the entry before I write it. I have cobbled away here this week to make a fitting tribute for my beloved to commemorate the anniversary of our marriage and of his birth and a Stanley Spencer painting that I used for a previous entry came indelibly to mind. There is a never ending supply of novels on my nightstand. I do very little reading of reviews but Himself does extensively and he knows what books (and music too) will appeal. I picked up my latest novel and within the first ten pages, Stanley Spencer was mentioned twice.

Chess was used as a plot device and metaphor in the last novel I read and both Himself and Leo have found intriguing chess references in their recent media consumption. Himself taught himself to read music and play the tin whistle with hours of patient study not to play for his own pleasure or ours but in order to merely enrich his understanding of music. He practices Irish, also self taught until his intensive course in Ireland last summer, religiously and writes passages which he translates into English every week on his blog. These translations are some of the most satisfying writing I have ever read—poetic, funny and acute. How can I get mad at someone who puts the spoons in the spatula drawer then he has such a fierce compulsion to learn and inspires all of us at Casamurphy to this as well?
I found a scrap of paper and it had a diagram of a chessboard. Himself is studying chess. Not to play it with anyone. Just to understand it. Below the neatly penned chessboard were some notes as to positions and strategy. The notes were written, for practice, in Irish. I drove around looking for the birthday gift of a magnetic chessboard to no avail and this here then, is my only love offering. Thank you beloved for the worlds you’ve opened for all of us. A raincheck on the chessboard and celebration but if I could give you the gift of seeing yourself as I see you, that is what I would do.


Cari said...

What a beautiful photo of you two...Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday Fionchu.
Layne, your blog has brought me closer to knowing who you really are that I ever have. I am a regular reader, always checking for a new entry, a new revelation, a new understanding. I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you finally discover the amount of people who dilligently read your blog. They say that 1 comment=10 readers, multiply that even if you can't read a map. (I can't either, it runs in the family I guess) Please keep writing, the people want to KNOW!
Much love

FionnchĂș said...

Thanks, helpmeet, for a wonderful (well, of course considering the subject's me!) entry. It's both humbling and ego-boosting to see my own idiosyncracies filtered through your amused, green-hazel, and steady gaze. I look forward to many more such musings in hopes of boosting your own ego, via Google Analytics. xxx me

Chris Berry said...

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary to you!

FYI...we read religiously and are continually impressed with the intellect and emotional content of both of your blogs...

Looking forward to seeing you soon....