Archive for October, 2012

It may be revelation… or it may be a brain sneeze.

October 19, 2012

I’ve figured something out.  This may not be news to anyone but me, but hey, it felt a little like revelation to me.

See, I remember in my teens and twenties.  I was looking for love, but love looked a lot like the stuff of romance novels and movies.  It wasn’t real, but golly it was fun.  As my twenties waned, I realized “Oh yeah, I’d better do that whole marriage and house and babies thing or whatever…” and so I did.

Here’s the thing: I wasn’t looking so much for love then as I was looking for the house and the kids and the marriage.  I think most people are like that.  We marry because we feel it’s time.  If love is there too, great.  But for me, it was all about the marriage and the family.  I loved marriage, and I absolutely loved my kids.

Now most people follow the same pattern.  Marriage, house, kids… then they are in their forties and suddenly life changes.  Now I don’t know why it changes in the late thirties or early forties.  Is it genetic?  Is it environmental?  Don’t ask me.  But everyone I know who goes through what I did… it happens in the fourth decade of life.

In my case, it led to divorce.  The man I started that whole journey with was not the man I will end my journey alongside.  And this is where I’ve done a lot of thinking and had my little revelation.  You see, I think most people have the moment in life where they are changed.  So if someone is married, and both of them look up and say, “Wow, I am changed, and so are you!  But I think the new people we are get along just fine!” then they just go along on their journey as new people, still married, still in love or at least in a lovely, comfortable like.

But if, like me, that epiphany occurs and the two people are incompatible… well what then?

Well, perhaps what happens is that the new person they are is ready and able to fall for someone in a new way.  Now is the time for someone whose personality matches my improved self.  Now is all for me.  Not for finding a house, not for building a family, not for riding those new and untested rapids.  I can sail with him.  I can surf and waterski and enjoy myself, hand in his, heading forward and forward and forward…

Am I saying things that everyone already knows?  Perhaps.  But I am glad I have learned it.  I feel like there are things that can be shared orally, read about in books, seen in movies.  Themes of life we can hear and write ten page papers on in school, but until we live them, we just don’t understand.  This is one of those things I guess.

Unlike the advice my mom gave me about marriage when I was young: “Always have separate bathrooms.”  I didn’t need to experience that to know the truth there.

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Stories from my friend Formica

October 17, 2012

So I haven’t been able to meet my friend Formica in months, and that’s probably why I haven’t written on my blog lately.  Also I’ve been finishing my novel, which will be out very soon via Amazon so yay!

Anyway, I finally got to hang out with Formica again and hear her stories of love and loss and the ridiculous situations she gets herself into.  I love her, but Lawsy, she can put herself into some pickles!

So I hear her latest story that involves a married man.  Need I go on?  You’ve figured out this cannot end well, right?  Of course it didn’t.  But she can tell a good story.  Always had.  I figured out years ago, not long after we met in graduate school, that she was a collector.  Collector of men, collector of experiences, collector of stories to share over tea at Starbucks.

She’s collected all types of men over the years.  The nerdy geek type, which included the student priest and college professor; the bad boy type, which included the biker and the heavy metal musician; and the army type, which included… well, the one soldier she went on maybe three dates with.

So now do we add the married type?  I hope not.  It was rough on her, alas.  I’m used to seeing Formica talking to the Chinese waiters in Mandarin, yelling at the Lebanese waiters when they sneer at our hummus, flirting with the flamboyant waiters just about everywhere.  Seeing her subdued and heartbroken saddens me.  Is that selfish?  Probably.

I am not going to repeat her story here.  It’s not for me to tell, and when I typed it out and reread it, the words seemed like gossip.  Let me sum up by saying that she thought she was in love.  It looked like love.  It sounded like love.  It even smelled like love when the fellow sent her flowers.  But when they were finally together, when they finally let their lips lock and their tongues tango, it didn’t feel like love.  It felt sordid.

I’ve thought a lot about Formica’s stories.  Next week we will have tea again, and I guarantee you she’ll have her sunny disposition back, and she’ll be flirting with the barista and laughing off this latest tale with all the insouciance I’ve come to love in her.  But what about the feeling of love?  Did she feel it?  Is her heart broken?  I don’t know.  I myself have felt that pain, and it’s pretty devastating.  There’s nothing romantic or funny about it.

I worry that Formica will take on the attitude that feeling deeply only leads to hurting deeply.  She’s good at maintaining shallow, casual relationships.  They make good stories, but not good relationships.  Selfishly, I want the stories for myself.  They liven up my days, and make me glad for the things and people in my comparatively boring life.  But I love my friend and I want her to be happy.

Ah well, to each his or her own, and all such platitudes.  I do think she’s had the right idea all along to collect experiences.  I know the ones I’ve collected over the years have made my writing what it is, and more.  Now if I can just get Formica to sit down and write that memoir!!!

Obnoxious people from my brain…

October 15, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how those darn characters we invent and invest in can turn on us.  Sometimes it’s no big deal… no bigger a deal than when someone flips you off on the highway.  You’re mad about it, but only for a few minutes and then it fades from your memory.  Other times it’s like a beloved, dear dog suddenly turns and attacks you, and you end up in the emergency room and find out you have rabies and fleas and mange and distemper, all from that dog you fed and nourished and loved and gave your precious time to…

 So those characters in that story I was writing?  You know the one where they fall in love after two previous breakups in a magical kingdom, etc.?  Well, the story started out swimmingly!  They were young, in love, passionate… the supporting characters were funny and fun and clever.  I believed in the love and the magic and the desire…

 Then the betrayal!  Oh no!  Such pain!  Yeah, that part worked too.  Even when they got back together again, unable to resist their love, it was ok.  And when he was sent off to the front lines to defend the kingdom, and she had to stay behind in the palace to defend the king… yes it was good!  Acceptable, anyway.

 But then he came back, disillusioned and on the run, ready to go rogue, and take his love with him.  Yet she refused.  He may have seen horrid things on the battlefront, but she had achieved a place of status and stature with the king!  How could he ask her to give all that up now?  So they separated, hearts broken… and then oy vey.

 My heroine sits on her fainting couch, hart shorn in hand, vinaigrette by her side, lace hanky drifting to the floor, saying “Ah me!” about a thousand times (or the equivalent).  My hero sets his steely stare out on the horizon, his chiseled jaw set, unsmiling, as he silently vows never to love again.

 And I just know she will get advice from a wandering Gypsy fortune teller.  He will listen to the wisdom of his sagacious old valet.  And somehow this book which began so promisingly, has become a melodrama written in the purple prose of 1895.

 So I was perturbed, then I was disappointed, and now I pretty much am resigned to setting this story among the others… you know the ones.  Back burner tales.  Spare novels to work on when I have nothing else going on.

 But that’s the breaks, really!  Life happens, and the muse comes and goes like luck.  I’m not mad at the muse, or even at myself.  Or really even at those silly characters and how far they have fallen in my esteem.  I already have something new and fecund in my head, fermenting and brewing up characters with backbones, with modern voices, with vision.  That’s how it goes!  And that’s one of the reasons I love writing!