Monday, June 27, 2005

So, Rebecca, how was your trip?

It was home and family and those are two of the very best concepts represented by words that I know.

It was also hard.

It was hot and my mom is starting to feel old and she doesn't like it. My dad was quiet and my brother was punchy.

It was hard to avoid little bits of Dennis everywhere.

When I first made the decision to move to Orcas Island, my counselor and I talked about the possibility that I was running away from my problems and from what sometimes seems like my failure. After talking about it for awhile, we decided that I wasn't. I had continued living in the house that we had bought together for a year after he left. I had to deal with seeing him sometimes at Speech tournaments and in other small interactions where he inevitably made choices that hurt me just a little bit more, so I healed little bits at a time. I wrapped up some of the big loose ends of our marriage, especially when I actually began moving and packing and giving stuff away. On Orcas Island, sometimes, I can forget the fact of Dennis.

But in the suburbs of Chicago, it seems like he's everywhere. Blues on the radio, Mark Strand in the Chicago magazine, movie theaters we went to, Star Wars (can I say that I wish I'd never given him that part of my life), the entire fucking length of the 294 expressway, the grocery store where he works that I have to avoid, a South side wedding shower, odd bits of local color that we noticed and laughed at together. Everything is a conversation that I want to have with him.

When I was angry, I could be angry. After two years, I finally just miss him.

Family helps. I can think of no situation more beautiful thing than sitting in the same room with one of my parents or one of my brothers. Even silent and cranky and punchy, we make room for each other, both physical and psychic. We also get each other glasses of limeade or protest when someone doesn't. The comfort of expressing even as simple an emotion as "Nuh-uh, that is so not fair. I just made the limeade. You can't make me burn that CD myself when you're sitting at the computer not doing anything else," without fear that I'll change the relationship is something that I can't get in a place where people have only known me for 10 months. There isn't the wiggle-room in the space that we make for friends that are that new. We have to be diplomatic. It's like the Daffy Duck cartoon when the artist keeps changing the scene. A giant pencil comes onto the screen and erases the pleasant Hawaiian landscape and draw an airplane around Daffy with clouds in the background. He has to go from singing a ukelele song to realizing and then acting like a buzzboy in seconds. This happens again and again to poor Daffy. He can never quite get his equilibrium and he ultimately goes stark raving mad. At the end, the black screen that normally signals the end of a show falls on him like a thick sheet of tar. Daffy struggles to make space for himself but he is pushing taffy against the force of gravity. After trying to hold it up with the flimsy stick that the artist draws in for him but that ultimately breaks for comic effect, he is saved by the Warner Brother's bullseye. It's solid that's-all-folks circle is like an egg in its perfect ability to hold off the pressures of the suffocating blackness. It makes a space for him to relax from constantly trying to make space for himself. (Of course, Daffy can't relax; he's got one more insult coming to him even there but the meatphors shifting now, anyway.) I heard once that if you cut egg shells in half around the middle and lined the floor with them, their spherical nature would hold your weight. I don't know if that's true, but the egg that is my family certainly hasn't broken yet.

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