Tuesday, August 30, 2011

There was Always More to It

Simon is angry at me - I mean, even more than usual. 

One trigger seems to be Fun.  Namely why I'm getting it and he's not.
[I think, but don't say, "For fuck's sake, Si:  if you want to go camping, go camping!"] 

He voiced his disagreement with my taking the kids out of school for two days next week and taking them canoeing.  What did I think I was doing, planning a trip in September?  Why couldn't I have planned it for summer, when the kids had vacation? 

[Uh, because they have had a soccer tournament nearly every single weekend?] 

Because southern Utah in the depths of summer is HOT!!  That's why!

He pointed out that, since I have left him, I seem to have plenty of time to bug off and enjoy myself.  Then it was time for the tired assertion that I never wanted to take time off work to do anything when we were still together.  We used to have this fight all the time: "Kate, you won't want to go on this trip because you won't want to take the time off work." 
"Says who!?  Why do you always say that?  It's you who can't find time to do things from October through May because of the ski season  When do you want to go?" 
"Nope.  You won't leave your job."
"Yes, I will!"
"No, you won't." 

I know the origin of this ridiculous argument:  there were busy years during graduate school in the mid-90s when I would go on trips with him, but feel fussed about the work awaiting me when I got home  And there was one year- the 95-96 school year, when it was hard to dislodge me.  It was my last year of graduate school; and I was teaching a writing class at the university; and I was Interim Director of Adult Education at Guadalupe School.  Why is it that I am now labeled ever after as the girl who doesn't want to go anywhere?  The therapist told me that this was an example of one partner growing and changing, while the other partner remains focused on a fixed point in the past.  Whatever.  It's a pain.

And he's mad that I'm not getting my stuff in the basement boxed up fast enough.  He has threatened to put it all in the bulk trash.  Lord knows, I'd like to get it done, but it complicates things when he insists that he has to be home before I can enter the house.

"Look, if you want me to get the job done, why won't you let me work on it regardless if whether you're around? I can come in with the kids."

"No way.  You may not enter my house if I'm not there."

"What do you think I'm going to do?  What are you afraid I'll steal?"

"I don't trust you."

"What do you mean by that?  That you think I'm going to snoop in your stuff?  Rob you?  What?"

"I just don't trust you.  'Cuz you're a liar - it's as simple as that." 

"What did I lie to you about?"

"You told me that you were divorcing me for a variety of reasons that simply aren't true.  Plain and simple.  You left me for Chuck.  You saw what you wanted and just took it, with no consideration for anyone else."

"Si you know there were other problems.  We had had problems for years!"

"They weren't worth divorcing over.  They were the same problems every married couple has.  We were happy enough."

[YOU were happy enough.]

"You are forgetting.   "What about all the times when I asked you if we could PLEASE just get some-"

"No.  Our problems weren't serious.  This is all about your selfishness.  I'm hanging up now - this conversation is no longer productive."


But he was gone.

So I was feeling low in my mind this morning. BUT!  I have half an hour between dropping Sara at her school and dropping Nate at his.  I figured, what a perfect time to work on boxing my stuff!  Si is generally home just then, so I could go to the house for thirty minutes every day.  Packing up my remaining stuff would be a great project for that time frame.  Nate and I saw Simon's truck in the drive, so I knocked.  No answer.  Huh.  I knocked again.  Finally, Si opened up.  He was still in his boxers.  I had no idea he slept so late, now!

I explained my thoughts on the half-hour-to-kill, and after initially refusing to let me in, he eventually agreed to let me work in the basement.

I didn't have much time, but I was able to box some things.  I encountered the cardboard carton in which I keep all of my diaries.  As always, I grabbed one and flipped it open randomly, to see which incarnation of myself would appear.  Today, it was my "college Sophomore" self: reading Dante and sweating over my statistics class.  I snorted with amusement, then started guiltily.  What if Simon came in here and found me reading when I should be boxing?  I was putting the diary back in the box when something caught my eye:  loose sheets of paper in there.  I pulled them out and found myself holding a letter I had written to Simon in April of 1992, three months before we were married, but had never sent.  I was living in Poland at the time - the letter was closely written on cheap, soft paper.  It was very long and very sad, expressing my dismay at his last letter, which had been hurtful to me.  I complained of the mixed messages he was giving me about his love for me and about our future together.  I ever mailed it, which means that the moment passed, and I decided to look away from the things he had said to me. 

There was always a lot more to it. My 44 year-old self looks back at my 24 year-old self and thinks, "What would your life be like now, if you had sent this letter?"

I tucked it away and opened the next box, which contained the contents of my night stand and the top of my dresser at the time I moved out.  Some things I packed in a "when I have my own home again" box.  Odd earrings?  A small pile of my children's baby teeth? A seashell whose provenance I don't remember any more?  Out.  One earring with a gorgeous collection of fiery opals, I put in my "sell it" box, along with my wedding ring.  A few things came with me to the apartment.  There is a carved wooden box containing a bunch of loose change.  I used to horde small coins in case the tooth faerie needed to make a sudden appearance.  Also a little, bittie china baby that I think will be a fun addition to my wind chime I am making from junk.  Same with the beads. (I knew they were there somewhere!)  Ones from shell, ones from wood, African ones.  I found an edition of Three Cups of Tea, adjusted for younger readers.  My Running 101 book.  A whale sicker from Depoe Bay, Oregon; a good photo I took of pictographs a couple of years ago and have yet to frame.    My half-marathon training schedule.

There are two index cards on which I listed things that are important to me in considering a new relationship.    One was my master list of what I think everyone should expect from a relationship - a reminder to me not to accept a relationship that does not offer mutual... "Loyalty, Protection, Affection, Division of Labor,  Caregiving, Supportiveness, Companionship, Freedom, Honesty, Respect."

I honestly never expected to have a relationship with Chuck after I moved out.  I think that hovered in the territory of "wishful thinking".  I had spent a lot of time considering the world of dating, as evidenced by my many jottings on the subject.  Another list seems to be about what couples need to be in accord about.
Money, parenting, sex, relationships with family and friends, religion, household responsibilities, leisure time, careers and jobs.

As I went back upstairs after boxing for 30 minutes, I smelled toast and fresh ironing.  I called into the kitchen to thank Si for letting me use this time, and to ask him if I could come at the same time tomorrow.

No.  Did I have any idea how rude I was?  Showing up?  Just knocking at the door like that?  And expecting to be let in?  Get out, and don't try this again.  Go!  Leave!  Get out! 

Si was furious.  I felt scared for a moment.  He made shooing motions with his hands and I left.  The door slammed behind me.  i dunno.  Seemed like a "win-win" to me...

So my communion with my former selves illustrates a few points.  One is that the Kate of 20 years ago was always willing to smooth stuff over, to ignore the red flags in hopes they would go away, to make it work.  To write the letter, but never mail it.

The Kate of five months ago was finally aware of the wrongness of that and decided to move on.  That old letter took a while to be signed, sealed and delivered; but it is clear.  There was always more to it.

The Kate of five months ago was also more than prepared to live alone.  To find a new partner... or not.  I loved Chuck, but he was not the cause of this.  I was the cause of this, because it was about time to reclaim and rebuild the person I want to be.

The Kate of this moment is still a bit screwed up, but I think all the important bits are there and can be reassembled.  And Chuck is still here: with his many gifts; his intriguing and endearing flaws; his big heart.

 Like I told him one evening last week, when I arrived home to find supper and a frosty gin and tonic waiting for me:
"I'm a lucky girl."
"No, I'm the lucky one."
"No, I think it's me."
"Uh-uh.  It's me."
"Sorry, but you're wrong.  I am the lucky one."
"Nope.  Me."
No, me!"
"NO, me!"

It's my blog, so I get the last word.  I'm the lucky one.  Long may it last.

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