Sunday, September 19, 2010
I love you. I adore you. I can't imagine life without you. You are fun and charming and funny and sweet and caring and loving and altogether wonderful. I want to spend every minute of the rest of my life in your company.
I do not want to monopolize you. I do not want to fall into the pattern you had with S, where you were "expected" to spend every weekend with her. I want our coming together to be joyful and spontaneous and loving and never, ever, ever, a chore.
K was pleased when you and S broke up because she felt that, finally, she would be part of your weekends again. Finally you both would be able to socialize like you did years ago. Now, here am I.
Three times lately K has said how much she envies our relationship and wishes she had someone as attentive to and caring of her as you are of me. The first or second time she said it, it should have started the tocsins clanging in my head. The third time, alarms did sound softly. Then, the next morning, a Monday when you and R and I went to the gym together, she was crying at the breakfast table. I can't help but feel responsible for that.
I repeat, I want to spend every minute of the rest of my life in your company. But I can't. You can't. We can't. We won't. I have to reorganize my life to run parallel with you, not in tandem. I need to cultivate other friendships, other relationships, that do not include you. And you need to cultivate your actual primary relationship and help me to stay in second place.
On the other hand, if you ever drop me into third place behind ANYONE else, I will not stay there.
I love you. We are soul mates. I never want to live without you.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
We bicycled back to camp and, exhausted, I went into the trailer for a short nap. For the past four years, every time I closed my eyes, I would have some thought about my ex-husband: wish he could see how happy I am, wish he could have heard that compliment my boss gave me yesterday ... some small sliver of thought. That afternoon I found that he, his name, the derogatory nickname my friends call him, his very existence, had become like a dark dwarf star or black hole or gravity well. I could NOT think about him even when I tried to! Just like bent light, my thoughts bent around the fact of him and would not land on him. Curiouser and curiouser! I really TRIED hard then to form his name in my mind. Nope. Wouldn't happen. I tried to say his name out loud. Nope. The feeling has slowly passed, as evidenced by the fact that I can write about this now, but I had a really hard time articulating it to my friend that afternoon. "I can't say ...." "It's as if ... never existed."
My experience in the temple was definitely cathartic. I think I needed some distance -- both time and space distance -- to really get over the hurt from my marriage and divorce. I am convinced that in no other place could it have happened. It wasn't the "church-ness" of that temple but rather the primordial, primitive, going back to our caveman ancestors feeling of the space.
Also of help was the alien feeling of the desert in general. It is hard to describe. Our human aesthetic (OK, maybe this is a bit Euro-centric but it is all I have to go on personally) requires some green in our vision. Grass, trees, water, whatever. Green is necessary. Even living in the East Bay and seeing the "golden" hills all summer, there was a bit of green in suburban yards and in oak and pine covered mountains. The playa is grey-brown for miles around. Even the distant mountains are greyed and brown. The dust eventually covers everything and even a once green tent becomes grey-brown. The only color was in human costumes and green tutus are not enough to satisfy my eye. The dust also changed the color of the sky and the sun; bright lights all night helped with the sense of unreality -- was this a planet with two suns? or several moons? It certainly didn't seem like my familiar Earth. People swathed in strange robes, scarves over nose and mouth, riding on and in odd vehicles -- maybe I had been transported to one of the worlds in a Star Wars or a Mad Max movie.
In any case, being so far out of my comfort zone was a big help toward letting go.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
All around is color and lights, constantly moving, shifting, changing; the only difference between day and night is the color of the sky which moves from palest blue through shades of cobalt to midnight and back again. One or two scarves of cloud may appear and millions upon millions of stars, but the blues remain ever constant.
The wheezing old calliope may sometimes slow down, the tune may change slightly, but the sound goes on 24 hours a day. In the brief respites, drums continue like a collective heartbeat.
Late in the day, at about the shift between Robin’s Egg and Cerulean, between 70’s Disco and the evening’s Techno concert, the Titan child who owns the snow globe picks it up and gives it a gentle shake. Fine white dust rises all around, blanking out visibility an arms length in front of your eyes. Alkaline breath, sour, cough, sneeze blood, wait it out. The dust settles, or not, at the child’s whim.
At the center of everything is the Man. Wherever you walk or bicycle, turn to look down the radian roads and he is there. It is impossible to ever be totally lost, even in the confusion of the camps; just go to the nearest intersection, look for the Man and you know where you are. But beyond the Man, at the edge of the world, seeming on the horizon of a much smaller planet, looms the Temple.
In past years, the Temple resembled something close to an edifice, a sacred building, Gothic or Pagoda but still recognizable as a building. This year it was something different, more primordial, not so much a constructed “building” but an organic, found space. Our prehistoric ancestors would have found it familiar, a natural cave or mound perhaps. The structure was in three parts of graduated size. From a distance it seemed natural but closer it was obviously constructed from random sized slats of wood. The larger piece could be entered and held tens of tens of people; other entrances were to spaces sized for a nuclear family or small clan; still others might hold one child or small adult. A “courtyard” space between two sections could be a market place or gathering for larger groups, under the sky but protected from the harsh outside world on all sides by sheltering arms.
No one spoke loudly there. Voices were hushed, in conversations or prayers or chanting or song. One man sat in a corner of the Agora with a drum, playing only for himself; a small group chanted in unison, softly, hardly audible above the wind. On the walls, inside and out, were words left by the visitors. Objects were there too: photos of loved ones living or dead, tokens of lives past or to come, the requisite Teddy Bear, flowers, scraps of lives. It was a place to leave burdens behind.
“I hate you. Why did you leave me? How can I go on without you?”, “I love you now and forever,” “I miss you Daddy.” "I love you Michael. Always. Soul mates." Scrawled on the walls in pen or crayon, scribbled on scraps of paper, inscribed on wooden hearts thoughtfully provided by the creators.
“In Loving Memory of a Failed Marriage, 1976-2006. I forgive you for breaking my heart. I forgive you for stealing my innocence. I forgive you for wasting my time.” My inscribed wooden heart and my wedding ring, tucked into a space between two boards at a spot where the sun would shine from dawn to dusk, were turned to ashes Sunday night.
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