acrylic on canvas
Perception is a funny thing.
What do you see?
acrylic on canvas
Perception is a funny thing.
What do you see?
It has been several months – including the winter holiday season – since my house has given me any remote sense of joy. I really (really) like this house. It’s quirky enough to satisfy my disdain of cookie-cuttery and “normal” enough to reassure my faint desire to conform.
Inanimate – how could it give anything let alone joy?
But this evening, a weird coldsnappping on the wind and the dog impatiently yanking me down the driveway for a night walk I am beginning to enjoy, I turn to look back at our house, from the corner.
Two paper star lanterns hang side by side, glowing in concert with a single strand of un-twinkling twinkle/fairy lights.
She is in there, with six then seven then six of her girlfriends. Playing games and laughing wildly, howling at each other’s uncensored teenage humors and running commentary.
Junk food, juice, real soda, pizza and eventual ice cream cake hopefully burned off before bed so no middle-night stomach issues result. They sang to her, and she commented with genuine thrill, “I haven’t had an ice cream cake since I was like seven or eight!!” and blew out the 19 candles – an extra for luck – in one noiseless whistle. She was happy, IS happy, and that is something I have not witnessed in a long time. She moved out abruptly, in January, after I drew my final line in the sand about her disrespectful behavior and backtalk. I was done and that time, unlike previous others, there was to be no discussion, no bargaining. She moved out the very next day, her father ‘rescuing’ her from me, her awful mother, her personal target, and blame-source. He showed up, hours after he first promised, and hauled most of her things away, leaving a mess in her room and a giant, painful hole in our home.
Down to the final four, the sleepover will be sweet and sacred, as most of these things are. In the morning, I will prepare crepes and bacon and tea or juice, and cinnamon buns. They’ll be gone before 10:30 AM. And, then, so will she, until the next visit. She does not come around often at all; I am ignored or shunned or too embarrassing. It would be the same if she still lived here. However, it was her behavior – not my lack of love or mothering – that led to the ultimatum: change how you treat me or take your show on the road and play a few acts at your father’s. She could not change for us – she needs to “individuate”, my friends all tell me. “She’ll come back, better than before”, they all say. But that is not now; the future remains a blank canvas. We can only love what is right now. So, tonight, I love this and the following moments of her being home.
Tomorrow night the house will be darker, less full, less lively and certainly less noisy. I wish it were like this more often: alive, glowing and sighing with joy. Unbridled and happy. But, for now, it is really quite perfect. ❤
What a curious thing to remember, today: 24 years ago, on this very night, as the temperature turned, my then-boyfriend and I drove from the south shore to Port Washington the all the way out to Port Jefferson – just to have dinner. He acted very peculiarly as he couldn’t decide where we should eat or when or what. Every suggestion I made, rejected; clearly, he had to decide. He was preoccupied and a bit brusque. (Not unusual for him, as I came to learn.)
Before we dressed to go out, I asked, “Is this a dinner that requires hosiery?” And he said ‘Oh, yes.’ So. Fancy and important. I had some idea of what might be in store but wasn’t certain. Heels, skirt, blouse, hosiery. Out the door without any real plan.
When we finally arrived at the inn, happy to find it open post-summer, the restaurant had just served the last table. A waitress with loaded tray, passed through the dark wood lobby between the kitchen and the grand dining room. My boyfriend launched into begging the maitre’d to seat us – taking the man around the corner – I could only stand in the lobby and guess their whispering – while he basically groveled for table. I should mention it was about 8:30 PM. They had every right to refuse us a table so late. This is how it went with him: good idea, poor execution. I knew this. In the short time we’d been dating, we’d been late to almost every invitation, every rehearsal and run-through, every timed event – because he was chronically late everywhere for everything. I waited in the restaurant foyer watching the bar crowd boozy and loose, finish wide bowls of oysters and chowder.
20+ years later, I cannot tell you what we had for dinner. For dessert, even though I ‘passed’, I was presented with a small, black ring box holding a lovely diamond shouldered by two teardrop blue sapphires. It very much resembeled a drawing I had made several weeks before, which I was told got “lost in the wash” – and I believed that.
What I did not believe – in that waterside inn at the ferry landing, in that late-night moment, exhausted and leaning into what can only be described as compassionate resignation, with bleary-eyed staff curling around the dining room door frames to peek – was that I was sitting across from this man, about to say yes…to something I truly did not want. After only seven months of dating, including somewhat living together already a month or so, I was SO afraid to hurt his feelings. From his bended knee aside our table, in front of the staff and other guests, I closed my eyes and exhaled agreement. The applause and cheering filled the entire inn, but felt inappropriate as they congratulated a groom and his bride, the liar. The girl too afraid to say what she did, and did not, desire. I’d let things go too far and rather than risk his anger or a fight or immediate heartbreak and an uncomfortable silent ride home, it was easier just to say yes and give him what he wanted.
20-something years later, in this lovely Indian Summer September evening, shared with a different partner, I say “yes,” again. To me.
Despite the path and the pain, any other reply than “yes” that night would not have been this life. For I am in Love with this life, this ‘where’ right now, and the people with whom it is shared.
Happy Anniversary to me, today. A day that reminds me to be honest with myself, to live, and Love, authentically, without fear.
Fearlessly loving from here.