Monday, April 07, 2008

Rhapsody in Blue

These things happen. Over the course of the summer, and especially into the fall, her marriage of fifteen years or so disintegrated. For me, it was like watching the footage of a speedboat nosing into the waves and tumbling, slowed down to give every forensic detail. It was horrible to witness; the kind of thing that reminds you of your own mortality, or in this case, the terrible realization that even your deepest, most cherished relationships can be lost. Have the lie put to them.

I’ve known her since high school and I’ve always been a confidant, and I’m proud of that fact. I don’t have many friends like her and I never will have another, I imagine. I was one of the people she turned to, a sympathetic ear when she needed to talk. At first, I never imagined they wouldn’t finally work it out; it was bad turbulence but they’d come through it. But their relationship simply nosedived over two or three months. Every phone call, email, and meeting apprised me of worse and worse news, deeper and deeper hurts. Finally she knew it was finished, and she hit the silk, and their marriage hit the ground.
So it was a cold, clear day in mid-November about a year and a half ago that I was with her when she turned the key on her own door for the first time. She had never, in all her life, lived alone before. It was a sobering moment for her, but she bore it with all the strength I knew she had. She’s like that. Having made up her mind and resolved herself, she’s capable of real determination. Men are supposed to be the strong ones, but if the truth be told, I think it’s the do-or-die grit of women down the millennia that’s the real reason we’re all here today.
And so down we went, into that emptiness, all that unknown. Not just the rooms, but the rest of her life. What would it be now? With what would she fill it? What things would she choose, what things would she leave behind?
We looked around. Talked about what she’d do, with the place, with her life. My feelings for her were such that I had decided to remove myself when it was clear what her path was, and I kept true to that. But just for then, when it was all still swirling, I was there. I could listen and hear. It was moving, deeply sad in a way that just doesn’t come to the surface. It wasn’t about tears or demonstrations. Resignation, a folding inward to let something else be the surface for a while. Anger, fear, and frustration had largely radiated off by then, leaving just the coldness of now, the plainness of must.
She seemed like a ghost wandering through the subdued lighting of the place. She indulged me with the camera; I think somehow she knew, deep down, one day she’d want to be able to look back, even if it was uncomfortable at the moment. And so I caught a shot of her, in stride, arm sweeping like a hurried clock, as she made her way towards a door. The bedroom. Empty, black, unknown. And yet she faces it bravely. She has to see what it holds, and she means to. I felt this one serendipitous shot summed up, so succinctly, that very moment in her life.
Here it is. This is life now. Starting over. And all those TV shows from my childhood, all the songs, the movies, about women disconnecting from what they’d been before, and getting on with their lives as full, mature, able individuals… here it was, absolutely real. But she did it. She made it work; she got things settled; she decided where her heart was and she moved it there. It worked out fine, and the healing is nicely under way. There will always be scars, but there will never be handicap.

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