Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Treading Water

The ocean...I crave it. The delicious tang in the air that teases my tongue with memories of salty sweet taffy, the resounding crash of the surf against rock and golden sand, the endless cerulean blue soothes me. Perhaps this urge to loose myself in the rhythms of the waves is merely part of my soul, an amniotic reflex... Perhaps it's deeper than that.

Water itself is the absolute--life cannot exist desiccant. It's our chemical make-up, the strength of our bones, the scent of our hair, the texture of our skin. Who can deny the healing powers of a steamy bath at the end of a taxing day? The invigorating rush of a shower to rinse away the night...the sensuality that awakens as the heated caress of a hot tub surrounds our thighs...

And so it comes as no surprise that my favorite view of life, my inspiration, is the sea. A vast aquatic pulsing ocean that we live within. Sometimes we swim desperately for our lives, thrashing against reason and tide. Sometimes we float on tropical rafts with frothy cocktails sporting jaunty umbrellas.

Some have a definite destination; long smooth strokes propel them purposefully toward their goal. Others flounder about, knocking over rafts and banging into fellow swimmers causing conflict, confusion. A few struggle, doggy paddling...barely keeping their heads above water.

Some drown.

Me? I'm treading water.

My muscles are on fire, aching. I've had several months at a frenetic pace--pushing myself beyond comfort zones, tearing tendons, stretching muscles as well as preconceived notions. I'm weary...
A pause. A rest.

Lift my head, still my limbs. I tried floating but the sky was so brilliant, the lull of the waves so tender, my eyes fluttered...sleep so seductive.

The sea is not a place for naps.

So I tread. Considering....taking stock of distant land masses. Watching the clouds for signs of of a storm. The black underbelly of cumulus entities that herald perilous winds and treacherous waters. I can see others all about me, their own struggles...triumphs and joys...doubts. I wonder if they know how fatigued I am. Can they see the muscle spasms beneath the glittery blue surface? Perhaps I need to head for shore...stretch out and work the knots from my back, the kinks in my sinews. Life is more than the expenditure of force.

For now....considering options....treading water.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I've Lost My Today, Have You Seen It?

Lately, I've found myself evaluating. It's a bit of a process, must say. To assess, to survey. You see, I think there is an epidemic going round. It may sound strange...but an epidemic of tomorrow.

The funny thing, is that I feel that it began with an epidemic of yesterday.

I have a pet peeve that at times erupts in the most awkward of circumstances. It's those people that continually harangue about what should have been. What might have....what could have or would have, in my humble opinion, has absolutely no value. Ziltch. Repetitive clamoring over the job she almost got, the date he should have had, or what happened at last year's holiday bash that wrecked my neighbor's shot at a raise.....well, it's over. The only thing that truly matters, is what IS. I do NOT want to hear what a great doctor you would have made...but now you're a stripper. Seriously.

I suppose it makes my heart ache a bit, for those souls that live by re-living. They miss out on so much and seem perpetually starved. As if they've never tasted the delicious thrill of what IS. Is life so disappointing? Can it hinge so imperatively on past choices or events that recovery is impossible? Did you know...there are entire cook books on what to do with lemons.

But then, we rebounded. The oceanic surge of Oprahesque promise and Philenthropic (ha, I slay me!) hope has nearly asphyxiated us with tomorrow. Bulging eyes and blue veins throbbing, we are clutching the future with desperate claws, a death grip on aspiration. For we have believed a lie...

That we can have it all.

It's a lovely lie. A cozy, soft warm lie. It's wrapped in tasty layers of potential and possibility. Anything could happen, right? Pretty Woman taught me that. But this lie is a devastating thief. Such a nimble one, nearly invisible we don't even suspect that he's there, in the room with us....stealing the jewel. Our today.

I'm truly not insane and I don't mean to imply that we should never plan or prepare for tomorrow--grocery shopping every day would drain me before I even began the feast. However, I've known so many people, who are living for tomorrow. "When I get a raise...when we buy a house...when I graduate, when I'm skinny, when I'm married...." These things are indeed there, just up ahead....but not today.

Today is splendid. Today is real. Wrap your arms around it and embrace the astonishing miracle that

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hell Has Another Name.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010.
Official Record.

Previously: Best Friend calls to initiate contact. Frivolous discussion about said friend's upcoming trip to Florida; beaches, swimsuits.... lovehandles. "Um.....shall we go for a walk this week, to exercise a bit?" she says. " There's a park near my house with a lake."
"Sounds lovely! Tuesday perhaps?"

Now to be absolutely fair, BF did indeed casually mention that it was five miles. As I tear up about eight in twenty minutes on my stationary bike every other day or so, I thought very little of this.

I pick her up in my blazer, we are dynamically jolly on our way to the lake.
My, that is quite a lake, eh?

We arrive and park, stashing coats in the back seat as the sun is gloriously shining, warming the 43* air to a delusional "warm spring day." I glance about....the women in the parking lot are...a bit intimidating. Folks, I'm wearing jeans. And old tennies. A t-shirt with some bar logo on it and a sweater I often paint in--leaving it dabbed here and there with various pigment additions. These other women have apparently stepped out straight from Shape magazine. Glamorous athletic outfits with glowing piping and detail. Hell, they have matching shoes and headbands! (when did flashdance come back in? Oh wait--those are ear warmers...) They're flipping bouncy pony tails as they tuck designer ipods into tiny waistbands...I hate them.

Mile 1

Picturesque. Blazing sunshine glints off the ice, regal geese meandering through the grass, we stride; long steps and deep breaths. We throw back our heads and laugh, jaunting along, giggling at the construction guys that are actually getting into wet suits. (for some reason they were into the lake under the, insanity?) Nonplussed, we parade on. The clouds are so fluffy...

Mile 2

Slight wheezing. BF requests that I slow down. So thoughtless of me! Of course, my dear...I'm six feet tall and darling Ag is five foot foot three, completely unfair there. We notice the geese rather stink. We chuckle as we comment that every runner passing us looks to be in pain. Ha, ha, what IS their problem? Is that a hill? My goodness.

Mile 3

The chafing begins. Perhaps they could post a warning, "G-strings are highly unrecommended for long ventures." There was that awkward sideways step with a hop as I try to inconspicuously grab the string through my jean pocket. Ag: "Thats why they make active wear." Wench. "Who's idea was this?" "I don't know, but she's dead meat."

Mile 4

Oh. My. God. *gasp* "Is that the end of the lake?" That's just where the trail takes off up the MOUNTAIN there and then bends to the right, circles around and then we have to go all the way back down the other side. Damn geese shit is everywhere! There is now a distinct burning sensation in my hip joints. I'm seriously considering hitching. There is a nice mother and children walking a sweet dog coming our way. We're passing. I smile....perhaps it was more of a grimace as she immediately put one child behind her protectively. Ag: "She's got car keys around her neck. You grab the keys, I'll take out the kids and we'll drive back to our car!" Sheer panic on the woman's face. I smack Ag, "Quit scaring the pedestrians!" In the distance I hear the woman say, "Now THAT is why you should never talk to strangers!" Dear Lord, we've become today's lesson in stranger danger.

Mile 5

I'm now serious about hitching. My right calf has seized. I joke about a ride and some pervy 55 year old man on a bench gets up, "Hey baby, I'll give you a ride." Ag: "Walk FASTER DAMMIT!" I consider replying. But I cannot breathe.

The parking lot.

I'm dragging a leg. Ag sounds like a thrashing grouper. We're nearly crawling and she says, "I know this hairbrained idea was mine, but I'm the crazy one in this relationship here--you approved it! You're like MANAGEMENT!"

This morning I can hardly move. I made it down for coffee...and nearly had a seizure trying to put my socks on.
I'm firing management.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Evolution of Love

Now that the dreaded month of February is fading in all of its loathsome pastel fluffery, (shudder) I can finally of speak of love. Not the Hallmark misty commercial type, not the the damsel-in-distress with torn clothing and breasts bursting the seams. Not even the gasping shadows that wear diamond baubles and kiss....but real love. The love that buys cheese.

"For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation." Rainer Maria Rilke

I've known love. From infancy my mother loved me; gentle, sweet, softly. My father too--although his love was more gruff, harder around the edges."I know the horse threw you, get back on it!" (chuckle) Between them, life on an isolated ranch in the Colorado rockies shaped me. My two sisters were great pals--I, in the middle--classically was more of a loner. But there was love.

School years passed, tenth grade bringing sweet first infatuation...inept awkward advances, hasty kisses and stolen moments. I would have sworn to you I was "in love" while now, looking back, I had merely scratched the surface of such a thing--barely inhaled a waft of its scent. The pain of that separation was staggering at the time...but it would not be the last.

As we live...we love. We fling about this word and apply it to movies, cars, ice-cream...nail polish. We seek it in our friendships, our pets, long for it in novels, sing about it at the top of our lungs in the shower. (my college roomies would testify to this) We dabble in physical contact attempting to make a soul-deep connection. Each experience--every joyful discovery and then exploration and celebration...and then disappointment and the injury of the end....adds dimension to the enigma of love.

I used to believe that true love was when someone would adore me and make me laugh and we'd romp and play. Sure enough, my first husband was just this. We traveled, lived in Mexico, explored jungles in Guatemala...and I was shocked to find myself...lonely. For the first time I realized that he didn't...get me. He liked the fun, happy, laughing me....but not so much the "first on the scene of an accident" organize people and stop the bleeding and the weeping me when we lost her. The quiet that followed that night...dark poetry. He didn't want that.

We returned to the states and had a son. There--in the agony of labor--my heart was cleaved in two and I discovered the depth of maternal love. Love that captures your breath, that you would give anything and perish for. And the remarkable miracle that it can happen again, with my second son....the mystery that is the human phenomenon of unlimited love. To unearth this well that never ran dry...was stunning. I couldn't love enough...I couldn't kiss enough or hold or cry myself empty. There was always more.

Parental love amazed me. Taught me. Tested and pushed and rewarded me. And despite this...I was lonely. For parental love--even at its peak--is a one way path for the first 15 years or so. I have known others that have twisted this. Asking for hugs, instead of giving. Taking rather than providing...and in our nation of broken homes and shattered hearts--this can happen without realization, without notice. But the cost to a child is immense.

I needed more. I was....alone.


Strangely, the days passed settling into the routine of life. The routines that save us. When a part of our heart, our soul...shuts down.

My quest for love has spanned decades. And as I've plumbed the depths of my own self, so I've realized that there are so many kinds of love...but a single definition for me: the people that love me...get me. It's not always fun. It's not always easy...and it's certainly not simple. It's a bit like the weather. Seasons. Storms and sunshine, wind and hail...once in a while there's a hurricane. But this "weather" brings us the air we need to, cold, wet, or angry--we breathe.

My best friend knows that on rainy days...when the sky is black and tumultuous clouds roil bones ache on these days. But I paint. I must. She knows.

My new husband called today. My voice sounded a bit off. He asked what was wrong, and I miserably told him, "we're out of cheese." He shouted at the top of his lungs into the phone, "OH MY GOD, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!?" which reduced me to a puddle of giggles on the living room floor. He gets me.

When you find someone who will rearrange his entire day to leave work early enough to get to the deli before it buy cheese. It's love.