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.


December 17, 2008 § Leave a comment

Well, I like my new habit of writing fast and not re-reading, except that I make so many typos. Sorry. My typing gets worse every year. I think my mother has cast a spell to keep her young; the devil neglected to tell her he was taking the juice from me. But I’m used to falling apart. I might even be getting used to terror, although so far I’ve only tested that thesis at home. I’m dreading Christmas because my brother will want to talk seriously and often about my mother’s finances and mine are so much worse it makes me feel like I’m on a planet with double earth gravity and I’ve eaten something funny and am getting hives. (This just from the phone calls.) But I don’t want to make him worry about me too. Not yet. He keeps talking about how we’ll end up living in our mother’s house and I’m beginning to think he half means it. When I was 11 and first lived in New York I was so lonely, I longed for my siblings’ company but their doors were closed, and I had to barge in and Johnny got locks and now this idea of us living together in the maternal home is awakening an idea–sort of like an Anne Tyler novel–of aging oddballs riding out the storm, one foot in the womb, one foot in the grave. Nice image, isn’t it? It’s hard to keep your balance in that situation, the womb all slippery and the grave 6 feet under.

Philip told me tonight his boss has told him they’re firing his # 2 person ( a man he recruited, respects, likes, who has worked very hard ) at the end of January and the fellow and his wife are spending big bucks trying to get her pregnant. Knowing the ax is falling on this guy, unable to stop it, unable to give warning. Philip kept saying, “I want to shoot myself.” He has other reasons for that sentiment, but still. I had to stroke his warm hand that always reminds me of a gingerbread man puffed up from the oven.

Why the fuck can’t I go to bed earlier so I will have more sunlight? And why, now that I’m asking unanswerable questions, do I always feel, returning home, that there will be an animal waiting for me when I haven’t had a pet in 25 years?

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