Heart-shaped Fruit

Obviously, I never got love right or I’d live in a bigger house with another person in it instead of a little house with two big dogs and a tiny, elusive mouse.

BUT

One winter, after a love misadventure in Italy, I ran away and went to stay with my friends who lived near Zürich. I had a brokenish heart. It wasn’t decimated, but it wasn’t happy, either.** My friend’s parents had emigrated to Zürich from Italy right after WW II.

Pietro started to sing before we left the house. He had a terrible singing voice, awful, but not quite as bad as mine. “Non esiste l’amore. E soltanto una fragola,” he sang as he put on his boots.

“Ma, Pietro, no,” said Laura, my friend’s mom. “Marta, Non ascoltarlo. L’amore esiste. E non é FRAGOLA. É FAVOLA, sai? Story. L’amore e buono, bello. Pietro, non essere così cinico.”* 

Pietro winked, put his coat on, and we went out for a walk in the forest. He explained it was a joke. Fragola — strawberry sounds like favola — fable. He wanted to console me. Just being there was a big consolation.

The trip to Italy had been a disaster from the get-go. Late connections. Storms in Cincinnati. A missed plane in New York. Routed through Paris. Lost luggage. No record of my being on the plane from Paris to Milan. No boarding pass. Trapped in the luggage area of Malpensa for an hour while Alitalia sorted it out. The traveling companion I’d picked up on the way to New York was a story in herself, an elderly Italian woman from Las Vegas traveling with two neatly wrapped mink coats disguised as boxes filled with jars of homemade jelly. Finally, in Genoa, I had to borrow my would-be-lover’s mother’s underwear!

When I arrived in Zürich, my luggage was there (thanks to the would-be love in Italy who organized it). Each day was Swiss December sunshine. I felt I’d been meant to be in Zürich in the first place. I loved my friend’s family, Zürich, the forest, their dog. It was really and truly ALL GOOD. It was also the last time I saw Pietro alive. He died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma the next winter.

Looking back, I see this is a pretty romantic story and a grand adventure. Still, that fragile easily-smashed and rotted heart-shaped fruit is a pretty good metaphor for love.

 

Portofino

Portofino

 

NOTES:
*Martha, don’t listen to him. Love exists. And it’s not strawberry, it’s story, you see? Love is good, beautiful. Pietro, don’t be so cyncial.”

**And, the man in Italy and I are still connected in our own way. I ran away, other stories followed in following years, but some threads are made of tough stuff.

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/rdp-saturday-fabulist/

Accept this Simple Toad

I love P.G. Wodehouse. One winter — 1981/82 — I went through all his novels and short stories like a starving person on a desert island. Later that same year, I ended up getting married to my second husband. It wasn’t meant to be a serious marriage. It was supposed to last a year and allow him to go with me to China. I took everything lightheartedly, flippantly, even, and P.G. Wodehouse influenced the design of my wedding ring.

In one of the stories, the protagonist — we’ll call him Bertie, but he wasn’t Bertie — and his best friend — go out drinking because the friend has a broken heart. At the end of the evening, they end up several sheets to the wind. They say their goodbyes and go their separate ways. In the wee hours of the morning, Bertie falls into a pond. He manages to haul himself out and he staggers home, soaking wet, covered with weeds.

As the friend staggers home, he meets his girlfriend coming out of a cab. They make up, and set a date for their wedding.

As fate (and P. G. Wodehouse) would have it, the two friends run into each other. Bertie hears all the good news but finds it difficult to care. He’s cold, wet and drunk, but he still realizes this is an important moment in the life of his friend. He decides (in his inebriated state) to give his friend something to mark the happy moment. He fishes (haha) around in his pocket and finds a toad. He hands it to his friend saying, “Please, accept this simple toad as a symbol of my feelings on this special moment.”

I wanted that to be my wedding vow. I wanted my new husband to say, “Please, accept this simple toad…” It didn’t happen that way.

The ring is my design. It’s sterling with a toad carved onto it. Its eye was a tiny emerald that fell out when I was trying to help some people push their camper out of deep sand in the Anza Borrego Desert.

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The marriage didn’t work out and, sadly, was not the hilarious, flippant, short-term affair I’d dreamed of. I’ve learned over the years that people don’t take my sense of humor seriously.

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/rdp-sunday-ring/

Mid-Autumn Festival Tea Party in the Heart of America

Fall has definitely arrived. Two days ago we had bracing winds and rain. Yesterday was a classic October day with golden leaves and bright blue sky. Snow is in the forecast for parts of Colorado.

Those of you who have read my blog for a while will recognize in the pretty table setting that there has been another tea party. Last week I got the idea of having a Mid-Autumn Festival tea party with my friends (who are near neighbors because I’m just lucky that way). Mid-Autumn Festival is a celebration of friendship, and I definitely celebrate my friendships in Monte Vista.

While I was up in Colorado Springs, I found a large Asian grocery store and hoped to find all the appurtenances of Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Cakes) but no; sold out. 😦

“Oh well,” I thought, “lots of people who aren’t used to Moon Cakes don’t like them. I’ll figure out something.” I was able to find Dragon Well Tea — the most prized and expensive tea in China, a roasted green tea with a smokey flavor.

Apple pie. After all, I was an American in China back in the dim post-Gang-of-Four era when Mao paintings still clung to a few walls here and there across the nation. I even made an apple pie when I was IN China. So, I got apples and made a pie.

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For food for Mid-Autumn Festival, things just need to be round, resembling the moon. This pie was definitely round and cratered. The pie plate? Not my usual plate for fruit pies, but it appears I didn’t bring my fruit-pie plate when I moved four years ago. This one is great for quiche, but difficult to make edges to hold in the fruit.

And it didn’t. The juice from the pie (and these were really juicy apples) invaded the barrier of the bottom crust and dissolved it. When I cut into it, it fell apart — but it tasted good.

We had lots of conversation — women’s talk — and I thought to myself how special that is, and how much I value it. I didn’t have time during my working years to enjoy people, and I had little contact with my peers. As an introvert, I need a lot of time on my own to recharge, and teaching took a lot out of me.

As we talked I thought how much women really need each other. My friends are both married, and I respect that very much. I was never able to hold a relationship together. I have mixed feelings about that — failure or freedom? I don’t think I’ll ever have a definitive answer.

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/rdp-thursday-brace/

Mitigating​ Factors

I’ve known this tree since I was 16 or so. The first time I saw it, my friend Kathleen and I climbed up the cliff face. Back then the “Bluffs” was a quiet, seldom visited, mildly wild-and-woolly place. It was Sunday afternoon after church. Kathleen and I went to the same church, lived in the same hood and went to the same high school. We walked to school together every day and hung out on weekends. She had a horse named Irish Luck and a great dog, a Border collie named Ronco. We had a lot of fun rambling around up there and life was (mostly) good.

Life in my family wasn’t so good. My dad’s abilities were deteriorating quickly from his MS, and I was scared about losing him. There were family fights almost every night. I avoided home as much as possible by doing lots of extra-curricular activities at school and getting a job.

So anyway, one Sunday afternoon Kathleen, Ronco and I went up to the bluffs, found a trail, took it until it petered out, saw the sandstone cliff, climbed up and arrived at this amazing tree. I was stunned. Out of the ‘dead’ trunk of this Rocky Mountain Juniper rose a straight new tree, back then about 18 inches tall.

I grew up with poetry and the whole thing of metaphors and symbols. I immediately saw in that tree a metaphor that was useful to me. The tree grows in sandstone. There’s no soil or anything from which you’d think it could derive sustenance. It’s hundreds of years old. Where it looked like it might have been on its last roots, it wasn’t. Right then and there I took the lesson. Whatever’s going on around, you don’t let it defeat you. You just quietly and according to your nature, keep growing. It may seem strange, but that tree became a kind of surrogate mother to me.

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From then on, pretty much every time Kathleen and I took a hike, we’d visit the tree for a few minutes unless it was our destination and then we’d go there and hang out. Today, you can drive to it if you want, but back in the late sixties, that wasn’t the case. Also, we walked from home. I’d pick up Kathleen and we’d trounce across a then nearly-deserted Academy Boulevard, run across a hay field, and into the thickets of scrub oak of the lower Bluffs, the neighborhood wilderness. That world is gone.

The day before yesterday, I saw my orthopedic surgeon. He X-rayed the hip replacement, examined me and said, “No restrictions. Go run up a mountain. Go ski. Where will you ski?”

Yesterday, my friend Lois (who grew up in the same neighborhood and also rambled around in the Bluffs with her brothers) and I went to see my tree. I had a lot to tell it. I can’t say I went up the hills like a mountain goat, but I did OK. My only struggle now is a lack of confidence in my footing. I will have to relearn the confidence I once felt on rocky slopes and sharper hills. We got near the tree and noticed a small one, pretty much just like my tree, but younger — maybe only fifty years old! It could easily be my tree’s daughter. They are the only two Rocky Mountain Junipers in this immediate area.

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Young Rocky Mountain Juniper

At my tree, I did what I did as a girl. I wrapped my arms around her. I cried, releasing all the emotion of the past several months, and I told her everything. Then, my feelings spent, I looked at her and saw how well she is doing. She has secreted sap and she was loaded with juniper berries. ❤

Have you seen God in His splendors,
heard the text that nature renders?
(You’ll never hear it in the family pew).
Robert Service, “The Call of the Wild”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/rdp-sunday-secrete/

…Legacy

My mom — who was born 98.5 years ago — taught school on the Crow Indian reservation in Southern Montana. She grew up on a farm only a few miles away from the Little Big Horn River and went to high school in Hardin, Montana. She was from a generation that still memorized long poems and she won a prize as a kid for reciting something.

In those days in Montana, teachers spent a year at Normal School, a year in the classroom, a year in school, etc. The year before she’d been in school, the year before that was her second teaching year in the one-room school at Warman, a tiny outpost on the reservation. In the photo, it’s the first day of school at Crow Agency. She lived in an apartment behind the Baptist Church in Crow, and she is standing on the steps of her apartment. It was the late 1930s, early 1940s.

She taught poems to her kids, and I’m sure she decorated her classroom to correspond with the seasons. She taught these two Helen Hunt Jackson poems for fall. Both create gorgeous, perfect images.

September
Helen Hunt Jackson

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.
The gentian’s bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.
The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.
From dewy lanes at morning
the grapes’ sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.
But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.
‘T is a thing which I remember;
To name it thrills me yet:
One day of one September
I never can forget.

…and October

“October’s Bright Blue Weather”
Helen Hunt Jackson

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

My mom and I had a “complicated” relationship. I thought she was amazing, but it was an unrequited love relationship and we weren’t even friends. She plain didn’t like me. Still, there are so many small things like these poems without which my life would be diminished. I cannot see a wild aster without thinking, “Asters by the brookside make asters in the brook.” Though my brook is the Rio Grande, I’ve seen the wild asters reflected there. The vivid blue skies of October in the San Luis Valley evoke “October’s bright blue weather.”

These poems are the lens through which I have always seen fall, and I guess that’s a pretty good legacy to get from a mom. I might not have grown up loving poetry, I might not even be a writer, without this background music from my childhood. Who knows?

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/29/rdp-saturday-fall/

Happy Goethe’s Birthday

“Everywhere we learn only from those whom we love.” Goethe

I’m sure that one of the things that drives writers to drink is isolation. Between my hip rehab (now finished in a sense) and settling down to really write the Schneebelis Go to America, I’ve spent a lot of time alone. I don’t think it is easy for everyone, but it’s mostly easy for me.

I don’t know why except that my dogs are large enough to feel like companions and without pain in my hip, walking them is a lot more fun than it’s been for years. The wild life refuge — cows and all — is fully open, and I knew what I was getting into moving to a small town. Life is mostly writing, rehab and walking the dogs. Solitary bliss.

But I remember even back in San Diego where there are millions of people, and I was teaching constantly (it seemed) I was still pretty isolated. That’s just my story and has been all my life. I think it’s the result of being an introvert with a lot of resources for entertaining myself. I dunno…

But, as my dad wrote in this little poem when he was 18, if you can’t be your own friend, you’re more or less fucked.

Dad's Poem

Long ago I learned to make friends with dead writers. My first such friend was Louisa May Alcott and there have been several since. My best friend among the dead writers is Goethe. When I met him, I felt I’d found a soulmate. He interests me less as a writer than as a person writing, if that makes any sense. Like a lot of people, I find some of his work dated and somewhat inaccessible in the finished (and translated) form, BUT conceptually, a lot of that very same work is incredibly engaging and I love many of his small poems, one of which is kind of my life-mantra:

Alles geben Götter, die unendlichen,
Ihren Lieblingen ganz,
Alle Freuden, die unendlichen,
Alle Schmerzen, die unendlichen, ganz.

I won’t translate it, having learned that everyone who loves Goethe has a proprietary feeling about anything they read and this has been translated infinitely (like the gods?) and my translation will be debated by someone with far more authority than I have. Just know it’s an argument for stoicism, patience and acceptance and says, basically, that you can expect to experience infinite joy and infinite suffering as the beloved of the gods. That’s true to my experience. 🙂

Among all the beautiful things he wrote my favorite is something he didn’t write. It’s a kind of diary of conversations written by his secretary Johann Peter Eckermann. Back when I was traveling more, Conversations with Goethe was the only book I carried. Reading it is really like talking to Goethe or, at least, listening to him. I’m grateful he lived a long life because his old age is a good guide to me for mine.

I’ve written a birthday “card” to Goethe every year I’ve written a blog. My feelings for him have not changed, but I have little new to add. If you are curious, you can read:

Happy Goethe’s Birthday (2017)

Happy Goethe’s Birthday (2016)

Happy Birthday, Goethe! (2015) 

Happy Goethe’s Birthday (August 28) (2014)

And that’s just the stuff for his birthday SINCE I’ve had a blog on WordPress. I celebrate every year. I have Goethe Birthday posts on my old Blogger blog (Private, sorry). I used to try to celebrate in some more celebratory way, like a walk on the beach with a friend or pizza, but I soon learned that Goethe’s Birthday is not widely known as a holiday.

I’ve written many more posts beyond his birthday that discuss him, his poetry and our undying love. 😉 This one is probably the best, but be prepared for a long read…

The Heroism of Mere Survival

However you celebrate it, have a wonderful Goethe’s birthday.

“People are always talking about originality; but what do they mean? As soon as we are born, the world begins to work upon us, and this goes on to the end. What can we call our own except energy, strength and will? If I could give an accound of all that I owe to great predecessors and contemporaries, there would be but a small balance in my favour.” Goethe from Conversations of Goethe

 

Great Love Begins with Limerence

In 2015, few months after I put my last Siberian Husky, Lily T. Wolf, to sleep (she was 17) I saw a puppy on the Facebook page of the local shelter. I was instantly obsessed with this dog. She had my beautiful Lily T. Wolf’s blue eyes but something else. Some je ne sais quoi. I contacted Brandi, the girl who ran the shelter. She said, “We have to wait two weeks in case someone claims her, but you can come visit.”

As I stood about 10 feet away from her cage — the quarantine cage, a big one off by itself —  she ran to the wall and then stopped. She cocked her head and looked at me seriously, as if she were thinking. Then, she sat as if to say, “See?” Brandi came out of the office with the key to the cage and we went inside. The dog was gentle, happy to see Brandi, curious about me. I didn’t want to stay too long because I wasn’t sure at all. She was beautiful but at four months almost as big as my Australian shepherd! I was in love with her, but since I turned 60 I’ve developed a brain.

I didn’t know what kind of dog she was. I hadn’t lived here long enough to know the breeds that are most common out here in the wild and (literally) woolly west. I thought she was a Siberian Husky/Great Pyrenees mix. I knew Huskies well, having had several, and I was afraid I wouldn’t have the energy to be her person. I researched Great Pyrenees, and I had big doubts about being able to deal with a giant breed livestock guardian dog who wasn’t intrinsically very social and who liked to roam. I had visions of being dragged down the street by this immense white, blue-eyed dog.

The two weeks passed and I went back to see the dog. When I approached her cage, she was clearly happy to see me again. She’d been moved to the regular kennels. Brandi brought her out, I put Lily’s halter on her (it nearly fit) and took her for a walk. She didn’t quite get what was going on, but she kept checking with me (looking up at my face) for clues about whether she was getting it right. That’s a very good sign in a dog.

“Take her home and see how she does with Dusty and Mindy,” Brandi suggested.

“OK,” I said and we loaded the puppy in the back of my car. I turned on the mysterious oracle known as the car radio and this began to play:

Dusty wanted nothing to do with her and Mindy was gently indifferent. The puppy liked Dusty anyway and snuggled next to him on the floor when he napped.

Once at home, we faced the house-breaking challenge, but within the first few hours, the puppy knew where to pee. I took her out with Dusty and Mindy and she saw what they did. She never had an accident.

 

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“WTF?”

When the “test drive” was over, I took the puppy back to the shelter, knowing that someone else could still adopt her. I still wasn’t sure. I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking. There was the “Oh my god, she’s going to be a BIG dog. Can I handle her or am I too rickety and too old?” I sought advice from everyone — and Marilyn had experience with Great Pyrenees and explained how it might work. I read everything I could find online about Great Pyrenees. When morning came, I called the shelter and said, “I’ll be there at 10:30, is that OK?”

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“Am I going home with you, Human?”  “Yes Bear.”

Her name was “Silver” and if I’d see the Lone Ranger at that point, I’d have kept the name, but I hadn’t. I named her “Polar” but she didn’t like it. She responded very well to Bear.

I have had upwards of 20 dogs, all of them have been good, some of them have been good friends, wise, funny, goofy, wonderful beings. But this one? She turned out to be something completely different.

She’s not a Siberian Husky and not a Pyrenees. She’s an Akbash Dog — a kind of common dog around here though generally pretty rare in the United States. She’s a Turkish breed of livestock guardian dog. These dogs are gentle, calm, patient, and affectionate — but also intelligent, independent — bred to be a partner to man, not a pet. That’s fine with me. Akbash Dogs are powerful enough to protect a herd of sheep from bears, wolves and mountain ions. She has the most amazing intuition. She’s wise, funny, low-energy and very very very loving. As a friend said recently, “Bear is just love.”

Mysterious forces — limerence? —  brought Bear to our lives at just the right moment. Her calm, dedicated love for Dusty helped him recover from the loss of his best friend — Lily T. Wolf who’d raised him and whom he’d known all his life. Now they are close, close friends.

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Bear and Dusty at Noah’s Arff Boarding Kennel

Bear’s love for me persuaded me to go to Colorado Springs for hip surgery.

In less than two weeks they get to come home from the kennel where they’ve been while my hip replacement healed. I can’t wait.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/10/limerence/

Lucio Means Light

The occurence of love is often suprising, precious, random. Some of the loves in my life have been sweet beyond belief, and one of those was Lucio.

Lucio was a little boy who lived down the street from me when I lived in the “hood.” He was Mexican, his status was not quite up to Donald Trump’s idea of “legal.” He lived with his grandma and several animals — also not quite legal in the city limits, ducks, chickens, a small pig, a dog and a cat. His aunt and her little daughters lived next door. I first knew him when he was six or so years old. He came up the street to visit, sometimes with another little kid, sometimes by himself.

He liked to draw and when I was doing art in my garage, he liked to draw his own pictures while I did whatever project engrossed me at the time. Then, of course, he got deported.

A few years later (!) Lucio was back. He was twelve! Almost as tall as I. There had been major changes in my world — my marriage had broken up, and I was teaching a lot more to hold life together. Still, as before, I was doing art work in my garage. Lucio asked about my ex and I said, “It didn’t work out. He left a couple years ago.”

“That’s too bad,” said Lucio. “But you’re still here. You need someone to take care of you.”

“I’m fine this way,” I answered and we both nodded.

The project at the time was “Barbies’ Battle of the Bands Benefit Concert for Cellulite Victims” and involved two stages, instruments and costumes for eight Barbie dolls. I didn’t finish the project; I got to the last part — sewing doll clothes — and realized that wasn’t happening.

Lucio hung out while I was drawing guitars. Then, one day he said, “Aren’t you kind of old to play with Barbies?” I cracked up and tried to explain it was sculpture; I wasn’t playing with Barbies. I gave up the project anyway and starting painting a mountain at Zion National Park. Lucio had no objection to a 42 year old woman painting a mountain.

One day Lucio came up with a brightly painted blue, purple and white wooden push cart, the kind used in Tijuana by street vendors. “My grandpa died and left me this,” he said. It was truly amazing. I believe Lucio saw himself as having inherited the family business and having become a man because the next thing he said was, “I want to take you out for lunch.”

I was mildly dumbfounded (if that’s possible). “Ok,” I said. “Where? Did you ask your grandma?”

“Yes.”

There was a new restaurant (Mexican) a few blocks away. Lucio had it all planned out He’d saved his money, too. We walked over to the restaurant, ordered our lunch, talked about art, school, whether there was a ghost in the crawl space of my house. The food was pretty good the usual Baja/Tijuana cuisine that I did, finally, get used to and even miss now that I’m back in the land of hot green chile and sopapillas.

We walked back home and Lucio said, “I’ve wanted to take you out for a long time.”

I said, “Thank you, Lucio, it was fun,” realizing, suddenly, that I’d been on a date with a 12 year old.

Not too long after, Lucio, his grandma, his aunt and his cousins were all deported. I never again saw my young prince or his beautiful cart.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/rdp-7-purple/

Incubo

It was in 2000. I was in Genova. I was supposed to be visiting…well, it doesn’t matter. It’s enough to say the entire journey was a living nightmare that included a REAL nightmare. The room in which I slept — a beautiful sunny room decorated in aqua, gold and white in an expensive apartment looking over the Mediterrenean — also looked over a train station and night was filled not with the sounds of gentle warm waves against the rocky shore but trains screaming to a stop outside the wall of glass.

That morning I was to embark early on an adventure to the Cinque Terre. I was in the midst of a horrible, horrible, horrible dream (my mom was rubbing excrement on my chest, OK? Now you know) and I couldn’t get away from her. “La Zia” — my friend’s aunt — came into the room to wake me up, “Marta! Marta!”

Being awakened so suddenly scared me to death. I shot out of bed, shaking my head and looking around the room, no doubt wild-eyed and strange. She looked at me, “Che è successo??” (What happened?)

“Ho avuto un incubo.” (I had a nightmare) I was still in the midst of it. My heart was pounding.

“Ma si. Francesco ti sta portando alla stazione. Devi sbrigarti.” (F is taking you to the station. You have to hurry)

I thought to myself, “I can get myself to the fucking station. I don’t need THAT person’s (a-HA) help at all!!!”

La Zia and I had coffee and cookies together in the kitchen. Then F and I got into a old orange VW bug (the car of his dad’s youth), and I was dropped at the station in Santa Margarita. Barely a word was spoken between us.

(Painting, “The Nightmare” Henry Fuseli, 1781)

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/73604906/posts/1881048422

Imagination, Smagination…

Compared to reality, imagination is nothing. This hit me one rainy Denver night while I was sitting on a kitchen chair in my then boyfriend’s apartment. We had just been to the grocery store. Innocuous enough, right? But grocery stores are not JUST grocery stores, and that particular night, Peter had exchanged some meaningful glances with the cute boy who had been tasked with stacking oranges.

I was trying (again!) to wrap my head around our love relationship. That was impossible. How could two people love each other as deeply as we did and STILL have no chance at all ever? None of the stories I’d read up to that point had prepared me for THIS reality.

“I could never make this up,” I thought as my former cat — Agate — wandered back and forth from where Peter lay on the bed and I sat by the table. I’m sure she could feel everything in that room, the sadness, the anger, the love, the yearning, the “way-things-are” against which Peter and I had consistently pushed for the previous four years. We had, so far, not turned back, just went in another direction to find a breach in the wall, a weak spot. We broke up, met up, tried again.

“You think I chose this?” he asked from the bedroom. “Who would choose this? You’re the only thing that matters to me. Talk to me!!!” But I couldn’t talk to him. I got up, put on my jacket, and went home.

I didn’t think he’d chosen to be gay. I was sure about his choices; his choice was me, but… That night I knew that it was I who had to choose, not Peter. I COULD choose. I could choose this exquisite, literary suffering or I could choose something else. I had that power, something Peter had understood all along though I hadn’t.

I wrote about it, but I hadn’t lived enough life to make characters (finite, neat, believable) out of those two lovers, Peter and me. Though the end was in sight, we kept loving each other and I kept writing.

Above my work table is a photocopy of one of his last letters to me. It was written after we had physically split up (he was in Chicago, I remained in Denver) but were still psychically together. At some point, I sent him the story. He was a writer, had a PhD in Creative Writing. I wondered how the story would read to him, the prototype for the not-all-that-fictional male protagonist. “Yes, I like the story. It moves fast and smoothly,” he says, “Keep Writing!! Love, Peter.”

 

 

Ragtag Daily Prompt

RDP #3: Imagination

RDP #3: Imagination