Saturday, October 11, 2014

what's behind door number 3?

I woke up the other morning with a question: is cynicism an easier load to bear than the pain of hoping/believing and having a dream shatter? In the moment perhaps but in the end I'd rather die having had my heart bruised over and over again and having played full out than give in to the burst of cynicism that follows each loss.

I can't remember a time growing up when I believed in true and forever love - at least not for myself. I'm sure I did at some point. I hoped and I dreamed, often stupidly. As little girls do, I suppose, I drew wedding dresses and imagined my handsome prince, though those fantasies were always more about a pretty dress and a party, and seldom about the prince and the happily ever after. I had many crushes, but little else. So I don't remember when I actually believed. Or when it stopped.

Any belief that love was my fate certainly didn't survive past the age of 12, after being taller than most, and more outspoken than most. After being publicly shamed by my elementary school 'boyfriend.' After going through all of highschool being asked out only by a terrible bully and a weirdo.

 I thought relationships were probably a good idea, at least on paper, but in the way that I thought being all around 'less' was a good idea - a way to not feel so different. Though really, the best I could hope for was to like someone who ticked most of the boxes on a human grocery list and who could stand being with me. Armed with those low expectations I sallied forth and stumbled upon my paper knight.

When I got married at the ripe old age of 20, it was not for love. I thought I could tough it out - that by sheer force of will & stubbornness I could make something work, and that while that was happening love would grow. After all, people in arranged marriages sometimes fall in love, so why not me? I figured I might as well marry someone who checked off most of the list - shared values (I thought); hard-working; close-knit family; cute. I'd work the rest out.  And, for a long while I did. And then I didn't.

In the (ever-stretching) years since, I've dated. I've had some good times and some terrible times. I've edited and re-written and update and finally abandoned the checklist with each passing lesson. I feel a bit like the little bird in Are You My Mother - ever searching for an increasingly ludicrous match.

But I haven't really truly believed in love - lust, like, romance, deep friendship, and the ability to choose to be with someone or not were the new 'best it gets.' Aside from one bright and shining light - distant as the north star - there were a lot of dim bulbs.

And then it happened. Me and my sturdy tree trunk legs somehow got weak in the knees. As in actually weak in the knees the first time he kissed me - I had to lean against him for support. That was new. He was kind and funny and gentle and could literally sweep me off my feet. That was also new. Initially it seemed he had enough belief for both of us. Eventually, that belief got worn down.

Three and a half years on, we are negotiating the frigid sometimes turbulent waters of friendship. Like the NorthWest Passage, it's sometimes hard to see a way ahead. We bob along wondering how to get through this when the person we're each used to turning to is the person being grieved.

And I am awake with the question - is the cynicism that accompanies disappointed hopes and dreams worse than the half-life of never loving and being loved? Obviously no - and curse hope ifor being so damnably irrepressible. I just pray that someday I discover there really is a third option.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

one need not be a chamber ...

I just came across this poem via Twitter today. Not being much of a Dickinson scholar, I haven't read it before. Or maybe it just never spoke to me before as it does now.

One need not be a chamber to be haunted
by Emily Dickinson, 1924

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one’s own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror’s least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O’erlooking a superior spectre
More near.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Wide Sargasso Sea - a review

Little Miss Horner presented me with her copy of Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea at my going away dinner, clarifying that it was a going away loan - I can see why. I had seen and seen referenced Jean Rhys' book many times, but had somehow forgotten that it is a prequel to Jane Eyre, an old favourite. I was also unaware that the titular sea is the name applied to the area of the Atlantic between the Azores and the West Indies - a treacherous section of the route colonizers and slave traders used. It's a region choked with massive weeds and bordered by strong currents. It's an area of doldrums.

Reading this book on my deck in Kingston, Jamaica - as I'm certain Miss H anticipated - greatly heightened my reading of it. Lines like "Our garden was large and beautiful as that garden in the Bible - the tree of life grew there. But it had gone wild" play out on the page and all around me. Taking in the words while listening to the morning sing of birds and tree frogs was akin to a reader's IMAX theatre - my internal and external worlds fully melding.

This is a beautifully written and disturbing book. It splits the narrative between Mr. Rochester and his first wife - the eventual mad woman in the attic. Full of references to zombi, obeah, and ancient 'magick,' not to mention the wickedness people bring upon one another, this is a book I read in full daylight. It fascinated me, but I needed to break from it now and then.

Maybe if I wasn't also smelling oleander. Maybe if the eerie feeling of ancient lives destroyed didn't somewhat pervade this island, it would have been less real to me. I highly recommend this book - just make sure your ghouls and ghosts are far away when you read it.

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Friday, October 3, 2014


She waited for the steady sinus breathing pattern that let her know he was asleep, and slid gently out of bed and into her solace-filled housecoat. This was not the greatest betrayal possible in a relationship, but in this house it ranked high on the list. After all, the delight she slurped in the darkened kitchen was mint chocolate chip.

No one should expect her to share that.

Monday, September 29, 2014

a woman of independent ways

The men I've truly loved
needed me to need them more.
All I wanted was to be wanted.
I didn't understand their need.

Others say I've always been this way ...




I thought it was a compliment.
A  part of my strength.

Maybe I was wrong.

Maybe they were.
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