yesterday, there was a big celebration out in the country, and my boys and i were invited. it was the first chance for his family and my kids to meet, and the most interesting part of the whole thing never even happened. i dreamed it the night before.
in the dream, my mom was alive (not come back to life, but as though she never left). she came to the party with us so i could introduce her to his mom. in the dream, it was difficult to find his mom. as one of the hosts of the party, she was buzzing around with lots to do. after many almost-meetings, i had my mom and his mom in the same place. they hugged hello and said the typical “it’s so nice to meet you’s.” that’s where the dream cut out.
at the real party, his mom wore the same color green shirt she’d worn in the dream.
friday night, i started reading the dirty life by kristin kimball. it’s full title is the dirty life: a memoir of farming, food and love. it’s been on my shelf for about a year, and “farming, food and love” told me it would be a good antidote to all the death and betrayal in the book i’d recently finished (natalie goldberg’s the great failure).
friday, i read only a few pages before i realized i was too sleepy. this morning in between getting up with the dog and making breakfast for the boys, i read a while. the author’s a NYC writer who plans on doing a story about a farmer in pennsylvania. they fall in love. on page 37, the farmer proposes to the writer on a mountaintop in upstate new york.
i close the book.
i decide that i need to know if they get married or if the book is going to disappoint me. it’s against every fiber of my being to read the end of a book before i arrive there honestly (by reading all the pages before it), and so i look at the back of the book, re-reading the synopsis and author bio for clues. it says, “she and her husband live with their two daughters on essex farm, which they have run since 2003.” i am almost satisfied that they are still together (not divorced like the rest of us) and happy.
but just to be sure, i check the publication date in the front of the book: 2010. i know how much can change in three years, and despite feeling totally ridiculous, i go to my computer and google kristin. i find her blog (kristin kimball), and i am reassured. it is safe to trust the trajectory of the dirty life.
i spent an hour tuesday afternoon walking around the empire state plaza. i usually only see it at nights and on weekend when it is nearly abandoned or during special events when it is totally mobbed. it was interesting to see it during the work day, full of a moderate but steady stream of state workers roaming about on their lunch breaks. they take in the hot sun. they eat their lunches.
i buy a barbecue chicken sandwich (with collard greens on the side and a homemade pickle) from a food truck. i take some photos, including a close-up of one of the rock walls. its texture is appealing to me, not just its appearance but how someone made it that way on purpose.
i have a number of firsthand accounts about how my ex portrays me. instead of being shocking, his words — crazy, selfish — are a little bit comforting. i wasn’t imagining his disdain all those years. i wasn’t imagining how alone i was. he really did stand in judgment of me instead of holding me with grace and kindness. i’d ask him about it frequently, and he’d deny it. “everything was fine,” he’d say. “we’re good. we’re fine. i love you.”
it was terribly confusing all those years. it was training for not trusting words: i love you.
and it was training in paying close attention to my gut. it took me a long time to recognize that it was right about my marriage. now, i don’t waste much time questioning it.
later today, i will go back out to the country for some quieter time. i imagine he and i will go for a swim and have party leftovers for dinner. it will be perfect.
in this relationship, we don’t profess our feelings much. in eight months, i can count on one hand the number of conversations we’ve stumbled through about our feelings. everyone wants to know they’re loved, of course, and everyone wants to hear it. even still, we have very few mushy words. what we have a lot of is action, is manifestation… of respect and kindness, interest, support, attraction, connection.
i’m going with my gut, and i trust the trajectory of this story.