Saturday, June 2, 2018

UNCOUPLING

Midnight In the Garden. But I think of it as Letting Go




On her melancholy Blue album, in a song about the aftermath of a painful break-up, Joni Mitchell sings, "The bed's too big/The frying pan's too wide."

Here's what I would add to that checklist:

It takes twice as long in the morning to make half the breakfast. There is less to prepare (yogurt, fruit, toast, tea for one), but also less time, since I have to do all James' morning chores as well — feed the kitty, bring in the paper, open the shades, turn on the tea kettle, haul the bucket out of the shower to water the plants outside.

When I get out of the shower, I have to remind myself to take the plug back out of the drain and hang the wet bath mat back on its rack; nobody is coming in after me to use them.

A single crossword puzzle might last me weeks! Some couples might come to blows if one found the other trying to horn in on his or her puzzle, but crossword puzzles are one other thing that James and I always did together. Each of us had different bits of arcane information to contribute — although my main job was to spellcheck his answers!

Family and Friends   
We used to work on crosswords at meal times, as a way to eat more slowly, and also savor a few laughs before heading into the business of the day — or, later in the evening, confronting the (dreaded) news hour. Little victories, like finally figuring out a particularly knotty clue, or getting irate over a particulaly "specious" answer, aren't as much fun on my own.

Until I started walking around our life in his shoes, I had no idea how time- consuming his half of our couplehood could be. I'm getting a whole new appreciation for the hard work he did evey day just to keep our life going — and for the unfailing good cheer with which he approached every task.

Now, without him, I have to line up movie dates, yoga buddies, people who do yard work and home repair, as well as indulgent friends willing to take me on errands. It takes a village of wonderful friends and neighbors to replace one Art Boy!

And then there's housecleaning. Either one of us might have occasionally picked up the vacuum, or a broom, or a dustrag in random moments, but neither one of us was ever obsessed with keeping things spic-and-span. So, a little benign neglect around here will be considered okay — at first. (We're "creatives;" nobody expects spotless.) But I have to monitor the situation, now that I'm on my own. Navigating some charming artistic clutter around the house is one thing — as long as I don't degenerate into Miss Havisham!

James loved every nanosecond of this life we worked so hard to build together. His enthusiasm for life was enormous. And so, now, even though I'm stuck in a kind of half-life without him, I can't let my own enthusiasm for life diminish by half. That wouldn't be fair to James.

According to an old Wiccan proverb I read recently, "They are dead, so we must live."

That's the spirit!


(Paintings by James Aschbacher. But you knew that!)

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