Valentine’s Night

February 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

It’s Valentine’s night and Philip is with Christine. I’m alone in his apartment. I was lazy all day, reading a mystery novel and eating chocolate except for the couple of hours I spent cleaning his kitchen floor and tub and under the bed, where the dust lay in greasy tangles like clumps of human hair. Of course I thought how strange this would seem to others—cleaning while he dines the wife—and will seem to him when he gets home, but it felt fine to me.

I like being alone here. I like being alone, knowing he will come back. I like cleaning the apartment. Is this my way of claiming wife status while he’s with his real wife? That’s obvious and probably true, but it’s true in a way that’s not really or not only delusion or denial. I must be turning Mormon.

Next week I’ll go visit Charles, my husband, who lives in Florida, and I’ll cook and clean for him—lots of baking and waffles—and we’ll take a road trip, see more of that peculiar state. I’ll sink into our deep marriage groove, the comfort of repetition and time. All the things we remember that nobody else knows. I wish I remembered more.

They feel almost perfectly balanced now, Philip and Charles. I’m at peace for the moment. Tomorrow will change that. The Sunday shows that Philip must watch—what’s going on now? Oh, right, world panic. That. I’m part of it: my few hundred grand went up in smoke and now I have close to nothing and no job. No buyers for the novel I spent years writing because my agent won’t even send it out in this climate.

I have a lot to do fixing my life. It was strangely comforting for awhile that so many were in the same boat and I can’t say I’d be happy if everyone was still out spending like bunnies (you know what I mean), but the world panic stuff, governments toppling, planes crashing into houses—.

I don’t think I’m experiencing 9/11 flashbacks. This is different, but I do keep thinking of fire. “We have a hole in our economy” the President says, and I see a map a cigarette chewed through: the map is the familiar USA, but the Midwest is missing; and the paper is soft, thin, flaking around the burnt edges.

And now I’m thinking of the dead: Ann Beckerman, JJ, my father, my grandmother. My grandmother wore gold and pearls, face powder and perfume; she loved parties and men. She wouldn’t understand a black president, but she’d understand me, at least a little. She died when I was 13. Too soon.

I should have called my mother today. I was afraid of her loneliness. I have to get over that. It’s just there, like the panic. You can’t hide from it.


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