Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Poets, Pups and Cheer-Me-Ups

Sometimes I crack myself up thinking about what a good catch I would be for some late fifty something or sixtyish man. I require so little, and the simplest things make me happy: the hum of a heater, good coffee, ephemera.... If only that old guy who walked right passed me and blatantly stared at my eighteen year old could see past my crows feet long enough to learn that I could bring him great joy by sharing my simple abundance. Mostly though, I just have this inner dialog for fun, since I have not yet even entertained the notion of dating again.

Today was one of those great days, where simple joys reign; A day when I hide from my inbox, lest anything (from the ex's lawyer) interfere with the gratitude that I feel. Two of my girls and I went out, like normal people, to eat and celebrate my college freshman's first semester - triumphant in grades and a promotion at work too! For the longest while we didn't dare eat out or buy a thing. We don't have cable TV, we wash out straws and don't buy paper towels because of the expense. This has become second nature to us, and being thrifty and creative at attaining life's little luxuries can be a satisfying accomplishment. But sometimes, just sometimes, one has to find the means to celebrate and participate in the normal activities that many (including me, in my past life) take for granted.

After dinner we made our yearly trek to Barnes and Noble for calendars and planners, now 50% off, even if the selection has dwindled. I do hope I will have something to write in my planner this year, besides meetings with lawyers. Maybe wonder of wonders I will be able to write in a schedule for a regular job.

Back home the girls and I tidied up the apartment, readying it for the busy start of the new year which will involve a fresh semester for my youngest and a marriage (wedding, yay!) for my middle daughter to a kind, caring, golden-retriever of a man, who is all smiles and all heart. God bless him. 

Right now, I sit in front of a Duraflame log (I told you it didn't take much to make me happy).  I have the best cup of coffee in a little birdie mug my daughter gave me for Christmas and have my feet propped up in lime green furry slippers (that look like Oscar the Grouch under black light), that the baby picked out herself. I am one happy woman. I survey this temporary home, this apartment of healing and I sigh. Literally, I sigh in contentment, and it has been a long, long time in coming. I know the New Year might have us packing up again and mooching on a  relative, but for now, just now, it is perfect.

I look over to the large marble heart that sits alone and stately on the mantle. I bought this soon after the world (as I knew it) imploded. This carved-stone heart,this thing, this material thing, that cost 15 dollars at Homegoods has the power to remind me of what my life has been about; regardless of manipulation and lies, regardless of abandonment and betrayal and attempts to define my contributions as worthless.

As simple as the symbol of a heart is, I still love it. I will always love the shape of it.  From the time my girls were little, they scoured beaches and mountainsides for stones in the shape of hearts for me.  My gaze drifts off to a table, an alter, where some of these stones huddle, lobe to lobe, energizing each other, showing solidarity. I am reminded of collecting one of them on a terrible, terrible day, the first Easter of my family's fracturing. My ex had one foot out the door, busy making plans to set up permanent living arrangements with his girlfriend. His girlfriend, how incongruous a word is that after you have trusted someone for almost 34 years? 

On this first Easter, I tried very hard not to let what happened effect whatever relationship there was with the girls and their father. I tried very hard. But they are young woman with eyes and hearts of their own. One cannot hurt one of us without the others reeling and aching too.  But still, the magnitude of what had happened had left us all in shock and reluctantly the girls went out to Easter dinner with their father.  I watched him arrive with Easter baskets filled with the best chocolates from Bayards, that I could not afford anymore. How odd  a sight, I thought, considering that I had been the only Easter bunny for 25 years. It was one of the hardest days of my life, watching the four of them walk out that door to my favorite restaurant and not being invited. Invited, another nonsensical word when one thinks of family.

Stunned, I did not know what to do with myself.  I couldn't remain in the house with those baskets mocking the life I had led.  So I piled up the dogs (my friends, my dear friends, now gone) into my little car and drove to the tiny lake, where my ex and I used to go for picnic dates, where I used to take my children when they were little to look at the ducks and hunt for frogs.  We walked together, my dogs and I for what seemed hours.  Violets were at my feet. How many hundreds of violets have the pudgy hands of my children handed to me? How many had my husband picked for me over the years?  Happy, intact families passed by, again and again. I could barely breath. 

I got back in the car, cried into my water bottle and shared the water and tears with the dogs. And I prayed. I prayed to find a way to go on. But after staring out the windshield of my car, waiting until I thought it was safe to go home, even if home didn't feel safe any more, my tears dried a little, my stomach whined for food and even a broken-hearted woman got bored. I found a Superfresh receipt and a sharpie in my handbag and scribbled this poem of hope, where I desperately tried to convince myself, that all would be well.

Easter Weekend 2009
I pick my own violets today,
scour the ground for heart-shaped rocks
with love abundant, still. 
Hope lies in the surprise of
purple in my path
and trust is small
and solid
as the stone 
in my hand.

Each day that has passed since the earthquake of my marriage, I have looked heartily for inspiration. I have made little journals of beautiful quotes, out of old little books, pasting old postcards on the pages or images of birds or butterflies from vintage field guides. These volumes feel sacred in my hands.  Some of them are riddled with pain and cry out with Psalms and prayers.  Others hold poetry and wisdom from Rumi, and Khalil Gibran, and Emerson and e.e. cummings... It was with a sense of serendipity that I pasted e.e. cummings' poem next to my Easter poem, the similarity striking, when I discovered it.

(I) came home 
with a smooth
round stone
as small 
as a world
and as large as
e.e. cummings

Of course my small poem pales in comparison, but tonight when I am feeling so grateful, it is nice to be reminded that surprises await us at every corner. It is comforting to know that a friend can be made when you least expect it, even when you meet on a dusty page and the common ground is a love of words and simple pleasures.


  1. Our stories seem very similar. My heart feels your hope and contentment. Four and one half years to the day since my ex told me he was leaving me for another woman. Still a couple of financial loose ends so he can drag out the torutre a bit more, but it's almost finished. I wish that for you. I feel wonderful.

  2. I don't know how you found blog..but blessings to me that you did. You loved my needing to hunt...ha ha....a kindred spirit
    But woman...let me tell can write
    This read like a novel's first chapter that i would gladly dive was beautiful writing I loved (not a strong enough word) your poem as I did ee cummings...
    your novel awaits you lady....get going

  3. Thanks for the kind comment you left on my blog! We have much in common. Finding myself single at this stage of life still feels very odd. Keep writing! I have found my blog to be my own little forum for venting, squeaky wheeling, and sharing my poetry and photos. It's more fun than it ought to be!

  4. I have a similar collection of heart-shaped stones, complemented by jade hearts, satin hearts, crystal, wood, bone, silver, pewter and glass hearts. When we downsized a few years ago, that was definitely hands-off.

    I enjoyed reading your bittersweet posts and am following you now.

  5. That's a beautiful poem. I absolutely love it.