Mar 6, 2009

Wandering in a clean, lonely house

It's 9:00 and I've already sent 5 emails to Sarah. Every time I hit Send, I remember something else that touched or happened or occurred to me today that normally would have been passed on to Sarah like table salt. Telling her about Galen's cut or the newly-discovered purple flower patch or my oddly itchy elbow makes it all real, breathes life into already-dusty memories. I live once for me, then once again in sharing it with her. She's my second helping that makes the flavour last, deepens the experience, and takes it out of a lonely me into a loving us.
If you want to go fast, go alone
If you want to go far, go together
Our dear friend Chantey sent the quote just minutes before I posted yesterday's entry about life being easier without Sarah here. It's a good lead-in to this follow-up exploration of the emotional side of separation - that life may be simpler and clearer, but it sure aint richer. To quote another friend who left a comment on yesterday's entry,"ENJOY this ease, this difference when you're on your own...but remember that it is a rather empty perk."

Days are OK - busy, productive, great social contact with neighbours and parkinglot parents and telephone friends. It's the nights that get cold and still. The kids are well-fed (tofu-broccoli pizza tonight - the slabs of tofu looked like cheese mountains and made the whole pizza moist and decadent) and long since asleep, kitchen's clean, and it's me and this laptop. The long list of tasks and projects that I've been dying to either get off that damn list or really dive into - the list that I admittedly blame Sarah for distracting me from, but which I now have all night to address - just looks tiring. It looks like a list of ways to distract myself from the emptyness of this night. Rather than being something I eagerly move towards, it feels like a crutch I'm leaning on.

Sometimes when she travels I watch bad pirated movies. Sometimes I just sleep more. Sometimes I find it's almost midnight and I've just doddled around emails and Facebook and other e-attempts at connection. Usually I eat too much peanut butter or brownie batter without much enjoyment. On good trips I read or write, or wake up long-lost friends 3 times zones away. But it's always at some level a filler, making up for her not being here.

So this is love after 10 years of marriage - co-dependent, entrenched, heavy? Feels more like a full deep beautiful entwinement, from deep down roots to tickling new growth needles, we twist around each other at the trunk even as branches reach out to different shafts of sunlight. And when she's gone, I have more space to bend and blow with the wind, more sunlight and air to grow, but I'm shaken at the roots. Nothing to lean on or hold up, no one to share the day's Joys and passings with.

In college they taught that passionate love gives way to deep friendship, and we young poets all shuddered at the thought. But as much as I sometimes miss the thrill of discovering a new love, exploring her secret gardens and creating new paths and patterns together, on a night like this I just miss my best friend. Not with sadness or despair, not as despondent or melodramatic as some of the above poetry might suggest, but with a heightened appreciation for her daily, hourly, minute-by-minute rich and real presence in my life.

This has turned from an exploration of how it feels to be alone into an ode to (temporarily misplaced) love. That's all I can know tonight. I can't remember how it felt to be truly alone, sitting in my Tanzanian house musing in my journal by kerosene lantern about what marriage would feel like on a Tuesday night. I can't write about real lost love or abandonment, about full-on single parenting, about anything other than what it feels like to be deeply in love and then to be apart for long enough to more keenly experience it.

As for the kids, they get along remarkably well, eat my cooking, wash and dress and have playdates and do all the things they ought to. But snuggled in at night, they snuggle a little closer. This is when they feel safe to tell me that their least favourite thing of the day was not getting to see Mama. Her absence is a real, tangible lump deep inside their hearts.

On the night before her trip, we walked under a half-moon around our fields, through the forest, alongside the creek. I told her that we'd get along just fine without her, that life would be simpler and more efficient, that we really didn't need her. Hopefully she understood it as a most romantic realization; that I would be missing her not for any utilitarian reasons, but just for the simple reason that she brings richness and meaning to my life.

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