Thursday, October 30, 2008

Playing House

It is without doubt that I am stuck in the wrong era, and I’ve known this since I was very young. It’s apparent in my fondness for run-on sentences and heaps of commas, and the way I sit mesmerized in an 18th century school house at a local historical sight, fingering the smooth grooves of the long table-desks, alert to the spirit the room holds. The impression life leaves on places well-worn is palpable, and at times I think I have only to close my eyes to see through the eyes of the past. I am more and more certain that reincarnation is a possibility and my spirit has a shelf-life without expiration. That I know someone I’ve known, and loved, before. And with all this – comes being torn between some set of values I want to have, and those that make more sense for me in today’s world.

So I amuse myself by imagining (I play make-believe with myself often, for entertainment purposes only) that I am June Cleaver, in today’s world. It’s not my favorite decade, but it’s easily envisioned – thanks to TBS – and it was a time of rigid conservatives and perfect ladies.

My husband (those who know me know how funny that sounds) comes home from a long day at the office, where he sells life insurance, or some such dull and unglamorous thing. I greet him at the door with kiss on the cheek, and Mich Ultra – tugging on curl from my perfectly coiffed hair as he slips his hand around my aproned waist. It’s his favorite apron. The one with the ruffles.

“Where are the children, dear?”

“Why, Johnny is at the baseball field and I’ve given the little ones their supper early, and all are bathed and watching a Sponge Bob marathon in bed.” I flash a quick wink, and he knows I’ve once again forgotten my undergarments. “Would you like to have dessert before your dinner, darling?”

“I think that’s a splendid idea.”

“I’ve laid it out in your study.” It’s the one room in the house that is off limits to the offspring, and he saunters towards the sliding wooden doors, clicking on the iHome as he enters, filling the room with Julie London’s soft voice. I watch as he positions himself in the large, leather chair behind the desk, and begins fiddling with the crinoline under my skirt.

“So you received my text, then”, I say, watching for the smile I know is coming. He loves that about me – the way I refuse to go an entire day without rousing him before he even gets home.

“I did, and I’ll show you exactly my reaction, you naughty little kitten. And be glad my secretary is a man, or you might think better of making me think such things at the office.”


This is where my reverie is broken. The casserole is done.

I dole out a portion for the young kids and call the oldest to the table. And throughout dinner, its not the Ward at the head of the table I’m missing.

It’s dessert.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Skeletons and Ghosts

It makes no sense, but I do it just the same. Having been drawn to the window for no reason whatsoever, I stand there peering through the crack in the threadbare white curtains that let all the light through. From here, I can see the entry to our short, dead end street, and at times I imagine your head appears over the now lifeless goldenrod that hangs over the neighbors’ chain link fence. Why you’d be walking down my street is of no importance when in reality you’ll never even drive down it.

Swirling for a moment in this imaginary realm of bittersweet phantoms, my son pops into view, tossing his baseball up and catching it in the smooth brown mitt of his glove as he trots home from the field. Like the dusty wipe of a blackboard, you’re erased from sight, breathing in bits of the ephemeral picture and choking back sobs instead of sneezes. Reality sets in. It is once again an impossibility.

I stagger backwards until I feel the bed against the back of my calves, and I sit. The book I’ve been using to relieve my mind sits open next to me, turned over, binding strained into a ridged ravine. I was so involved in it earlier; I had a hard time hiding my irritation when demanded by the kids for lunch to be made. And now I have no idea where I left off. It’s as though my mind has become lava, which when heated and engaged flows quickly and warmly wherever it chooses to go. And with little less than a change in the wind, it has chilled to a congealed, almost solid mass of cold, hollow stone.

The comfort of the loneliness I lived with before you has been replaced by the misery of the loneliness after you. It’s not been the same. I’ve not been the same. I can work doggedly every day, barely slowing down to see the faces around me, or hear what they say when I stand against the fence, cigarette balanced between my fingers, lost in the break time chatter of weather and politics and loved ones. I wonder, as I nod my head in answer to some unheard question, if purgatory, and in that case heaven, are earthbound places, and have little to do with afterlife at all. Maybe we pay for sins and mistreatment and our wrongs in human suffering – and what happens to our souls afterwards is merely a matter of leftover debt, a palingenetic transaction.

It doesn’t matter really. I’ve become accustomed to looking for a word from you, where there are none. I’ve accepted that I can call to you as often and as loudly as I want – and nothing will bring you to me. Nothing I can do anyway. It is without hope that I go to the window knowing that the skeletons in my closet matter not at all compared to the ghosts in the street.