Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another Thread

I have written about threads in my life before. They happen all the time, but I always forget to write about them. Two months ago, there was a marriage-and-divorce thread happening (it lasted a good month or so), and now, apparently, this traveling+happiness-vs.-depression thread is happening (it overlapped with the marriage thread a little, truth be told). I have been randomly pulling books off the non-fiction shelves of the library and I could totally shape a curriculum out of the past 4 or 5 books---memoirs, travel logs, understanding happiness/one's place in the world thru travel, etc. {by the way, this is serious problem I have while reading--I am constantly writing a book review or a research paper or a lecture in my head. If I own the book, it gets marked all to heck; if I've borrowed the book, it's stuffed with scrap paper and post-its with my arguments, obervations, or favorite quotes from the book, which I then have to remove to retun the book, so I have little stacks everywhere. I blame this entirely on being a Literature and Composition major. Thank goodness for blogging--if it weren't for blogging, those 70 credit hours of lit & comp classes would be as useless as college algebra and calculus to me!!!}

So I am going to start this backwards. Tonight while I was blissfully cleaning the kitchen, the kids tucked in bed after a hard day of swimming, tomorrow's breakfast and dinner prepared and ready to enjoy on the Sabbath, the dishwasher peacefully whirring, the cd player softly playing Innocence Mission's "GLOW" album, I had a pretty intense memory--more than a memory, a flashback, a muscle memory, deep, involving all six senses.

Truth be told, hearing "Another Country" is always a sucker punch in the gut for me. It takes me back to January 1996 when I was living in North Carolina and my great-grandmother passed away and I couldn't afford to go home to Arizona for the funeral. It was only the latest of many heart-aches: a local unrequited love, a love back at school that was certainly requited but which led down a path that would surely lead to unhappiness, apathy about my current course of study, general homesickness, a long, icy Carolina winter, etc. My heart was certainly heavy, and it all comes back when I hear those first sweet, mournful, longing strains of the guitar on this song.

So I went there, but wondered why, when my day had been--my whole life IS--so peaceful and beautiful, was I feeling so melancholy? Then I realized that it was the book I had just finished, Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain by Michele Morano. It's 13 personal essays revolving around living in Spain as an English Teacher and experiencing life thru that prism of language, culture, grammar. Most of the essays happen with the backdrop of a dying relationship with a very depressed man back in New York ("...Or, I moved to Spain because the man I loved, the man who tried to kill himself, was driving me insane..."--the same could be said, to a lesser degree, about my leaving on a mission or moving back to North Carolina). This particular passsage about said boyfriend coming to visit in Spain struck an old familiar chord with me:

[From a section of grammar lessons titled "7. in adverbial clauses denoting purpose, provision, exception"] "Unless. In language, as in experience, we have purpose, provision, exception. None of which matches reality, all of which takes the subjunctive.

"On the long walk back down the hill toward your room, he turns quiet. You find yourself talking more than usual, trying to fill the empty space with cheerful commentary, but it doesn't help. The shape of his face begins to change until there it is again, the landscape of furrows and crags. The jaw thrusts slightly, lips pucker, eyebrows arch as if to say, 'I don't care. About anything.'

"Back in the room, you ask him what's wrong, plead with him to tell you. You can talk about anything, you assure him, anything at all. And yet you're stunned when his brooding turns accusatory. He says it isn't fair. You don't understand how difficult it is to be him. Your life is easy, so easy that even moving to a new country, taking up a new language, is effortless. While every day is a struggle for him. Don't you see that? Everyday is a struggle.

"He lowers the shade and gets into bed, his back turned toward you.

"What to do? You want to go back outside into the mild air and sunshine and walk until you remember what it feels like to be completely alone. But you're afraid to leave him. For the duration of his 90 minute nap, you sit paralyzed. Everything feels unreal, the darkened room, the squeals of children in another part of the house, the burning sensation in your stomach. You tremble, first with sadness and fear, then anger. Part of you wants to wake him, tell him to collect his things, then drive him back to the airport in Madrid. You want to send him home again, away from your new country, the place where you live unencumbered---but with a great deal of effort, thank you very much. The other part of you wants to wail and beat your fist against the wall and howl, Give him back to me."

I have lived this. Exactly, even down to the burning stomach (which anxious sensation I lived with for my first 29 years, then it disappeared in the peace of life with Richard) and being told that my life is "easy" (I could write a whole other post about this--few things anger me more than when someone tells me, "Yeah, you're good at x--it comes so easy to you, but me? I just could never do x..." This is insulting to both of us because [a] nothing comes easy; with a great deal of effort, certain things can become habits and therefor get easier with time, but I have to make choices every minute of every day to be who I am and do what I do and [b] so do you. You have the power, the divine nature, to accomplish anything you want to. Your life is, for the most part--illness and affliction aside, the sum of what you choose from moment to moment). With three different men I felt this--I lost three loves to depression. Two of them took their own lives. One survived and met a woman who lives gracefully (gratefully) on his rollercoaster. I have done the beating and the howling dozens of times as I watched my boys fade. It's a horrifically helpless place to be. I do realize that the only thing worse than loving someone with depression is being someone with depression, so the anger, it just stagnates and rots there between you because really, are you going to be angry AT this person who's as tired of it as you are? Oh, ouch, the memories! And then the stark contrast to my life today! How did I get here? I almost have to catch my breath from shock, from what might have been, to a sigh of relief for what is.

[I have a tangential story to tell, and I will tell it. Tomorrow.G'nite for now!]

1 comment:

Taralyn said...

You live a Magical Life now Postie!!! I am so grateful that you do... Because I think you are soooo very Fabulous!!! You have a beautiful family and I know you have health issues that some would find absolutely overwhelming.. But you are Strong & Beautiful and you take all the strength you family gives you and You make a Magical Life together... I am not as good as you are with word but I Love You and am so glad we have gotten back in touch... Much <3


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