“I’m treading water.”
“We could both use a break from the ‘unhealthy pace’.”
“I need space to process feelings, desires, choices and goals.”
And, to add, the operative noun:
For never coming back.
The tenacious ones always get hurt.
Being a barnacle. Hanging on, trying harder, being mindful, vowing to practice good listening skills. Harvesting scraps, from dinner.
Denying how much the one so loved wants to leave.
He’d been talking about “incompatibility” for months. Good listening skills notwithstanding, I’d refused to hear it. Compatibility was a small thing; heck, I’d been “matched” for it at eHarmony.com in 2006, spending three weeks with a bona fide, raving psychotic. You laugh?
I thought that really caring, providing nurture, being helpful around his house, thinking of his needs first whenever I entered a store, trying to find solutions to an endless litany of problems, and being willing to drive the twenty three minutes each way to his place three, four times per week were the ways to show love. Oh, and, the big one: forgiving him all his sins. Past, and present. Repeatedly.
I was mistaken.
In the end, everything I said or did, and how I said and did it, drove him away. He couldn’t stand being around me. He only wanted me there when I wasn’t.
And so, he treated me in kind. I often found my words dismissed – grammatically and syntactically correct texts, each one requiring an intolerable twelve seconds to digest – deleted because there were just too many of them; my overall behavior frequently subjected to declarations tinged with sarcasm and outrage; sweeping generalizations about what was “normal” regularly put up as the barometer against my every act. And yet, to sum it all up, this was “just me”, and who was he to try to “change” me?
By now, with the single exceptions of downhill skiing, skydiving, scuba, performing surgery, and giving birth, everything about life had happened to me. There’d hardly been an experience to which there hadn’t been at least some tangential connection. I’d hiked to the top of Mt. Washington, reeled in a mahimahi off the Honolulu coast, and played on stage with YoYo Ma. Taught competitive marching band (not very competitively, being a poet and aesthete), choir, chorus, hundreds of strings, scores of private students, and coached/produced/directed childrens’ drama ten times in ten years. In 1984, traveled alone to Scotland, England, France, Germany and Switzerland. Written and illustrated three childrens’ books. Bought my own house at age 29, my own cello at 28, and my own Steinway at 57.
But, being dumped as a single woman, at age 61. That smelled more like terror. Who wanted an old woman, for a partner? Surely not an old man. Men were largely unteachable, to begin with, unless groomed by a registered Suzuki instructor by age 4; how could they be expected to adapt to anything, by this time?
I suppose that, just like I myself declared in the musings of a prior piece, beginning again at age 61 might entail going more solo than ever before. That multiply published author, as she traveled the college keynote circuit, never made mention of either a husband or even children. But then, the tiny one, in the bookstore. Carefully laying out all the major novels as her world for the remaining winters of her solitary existence.
So, what did I want? And, what would it be? Serving at the soup kitchen, on Christmas day? My own mother had regularly helped do the very thing, every week in the final few years of her life. She died, anyway, at age seventy six, not a day older than she was at seventeen.
Ask, and ye shall receive. But, isn’t it better to give?
I’m tired of giving. Giving up, that is – most of my entire self, for another (but, keeping the house, dammit. The only thing I hadn’t done was build it, for God’s sake.)
Maybe spreading love around is the secret. I’m a sprinter anyway, after all – good in short, intense spurts. For the long haul? The biggest load since the space shuttle crossing country on a flatbed.
No matter that the shuttle altered life on the planet as we all knew it. The shuttle was never intended to win friends or influence people, or get tucked into bed at night between the dogs and the warm, familiar embodiment of romantic idealism.
Even as a child, I was not well liked. My own mother found me irritating. And, she was quick to say so. I bore every, single trait inherited from her husband which she never knew until after he’d married her.
So, time to go.
Tonight, I’ll be at my house. It’s warm, inside. Been mine, for thirty years. Plenty of space, to fill with perpetually collecting reminders of everyone who’d ever been next to me in the room, now to sit alone and think.
But, just don’t ask me to feel.
For that, I would need a really exquisite, carefully selected, and truly exceptional metaphor.
© 11/26/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the world’s most rejectable woman, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for stifling your self satisfied derision.