Who’s Stewart?

Hi,

There are many stories in here, so forgive the multiple parentheticals – recognizing of course, that really talented writers don’t use them often.  Ah well, I’ve never claimed to be a really talented writer.

Anyway, I was speaking with my builder last week.  A few years ago, her birthday gift from her husband was a girls’ weekend at an exclusive hotel.  These women have been friends for years; there are no secrets.  Well, with an abundance of alcohol there are no secrets.  And they imbibed – a lot.  One of her friends has been happily married for many years.  Great guy – sweet, attentive, doting – the kind of guy everyone else in the group holds up as the example when they’re arguing with their spouses.

After many drinks, her friend acknowledged that as much as she loved him, he wasn’t her ‘Stewart’.  Stewart was the one who got away.  Her college sweetheart – part dog, part romantic fool.  She was besotted, he was hormonal.  But she held out a fantasy, wondering for years, ‘what if’.

To abbreviate the tale, over the years her feelings for her husband have replaced that wonder.  She adores him – even though he wasn’t her ‘Stewart’.

I’ve never had a Stewart.  Perhaps it’s because I married often enough that by the time I hit 30, the prospect of a fantasy romance would have just enervated me.  I was a single mom with two boys under the age of five.  And honestly, being a mom was pretty much the only fantasy I ever really had that I insisted on making a reality (but that’s another story).

So let’s move on.

Have I told you that my sister is flippin’ brilliant?  On so many levels, this woman amazes me constantly (Debbie, I know you are shaking your head, telling me that this is same-sex, birth order bullshit – and even if you’re right, so what?  It is what it is.  Truth for sure – and some residual younger-sister-will-never-be-as-good neurosis for good measure).  She is beautiful, scary smart, talented beyond measure – and she is a writer – the legitimate kind.  In one of her recent stories she wrote “you fall in love with the way someone falls in love with you”.  Brilliant.

And true.

I fell in love with the way Andy fell in love with me.  He made himself fit into my life with such an abundance of heart, romance, delight – he introduced me to his magic and I was ultimately mesmerized.  He is my Stewart, but he isn’t the one who got away.  He’s the one who stayed.

We may fall in love with the vision of love that we see, but we stay in love with the person who orchestrated the imagery.  The person who may not be who we first saw (and are we the person they first saw?), but who’s in it with you.  The person who can be your best friend and some weird extra-terrestrial at the same time and still be cute.  The one who drives you crazy in every conceivable way.  I’m a kite;  Andy is an anchor.  He’s judgmental;  I’m not (but for my expectations of sub-contractors working on our house, but they’re not reading this).  We are opposite sides of the same coin – and that is the kind of love that can’t be fabricated by fantasy.

We fall in love with the way someone falls in love with us.  True enough.  We love the person who knew how to make that happen.  Perhaps I never had a Stewart because I have an Andy.  And even though this has absolutely nothing to do with what I intended to pen today, it is what’s been on my mind all morning.  So, I guess therein is another story.

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Oxymoron

Hi  my friend,

The night was sleepless and I’m wide awake…and the co-existence of contradictory realities seems to prevail.  I am a contradiction in terms – held together by the small inhalations between words.  You’d think that living within duality would at least offer up some deep slumber at the end of a day.  Ha.

Here’s one for you – I stopped believing in atheism a long time ago (yes, an oxymoron with a little hint of humor).  About the time I stopped writing everything in lower case and pretending that I was a potential hybrid of joni mitchell and e.e. cummings.  That said, I still belief in disbelief, if disbelief equals wonder and incredulity and stuff that’s just really hard to believe.

I believe in God.  I believe that there is something that I can’t adequately explain and seek daily, even though I know it’s there.  We have conversations (ok – I do all the talking, but given my profession and personality, that’s not too common).  Perhaps as my sister notes, the older we get, the more comfort we seek – whether it be in a more spiritual grounding,  greater connections with others, opening our eyes and arms a bit wider  – or all of the above.  One’s world may become more circumspect while one’s outlook widens….see what I mean?

I believe in humankind despite our reiterative behaviors of intentional cruelty and deplorable injustice.  It exists within the same construct as acts of graciousness and generosity that I witness everyday.  I cry over both.  And a sunrise can be as comforting as a sunset.  Go figure.

So much for the theory that it can be absolutely one thing or another.  Life is beautiful and unforgivably ugly.  We seek forgiveness when we find it difficult to forgive.  We ask for people to be held accountable and shy away from personal responsibility.  We’re a funny species – which makes me wonder why we came up with ‘oxymoron’ – it’s not a particularly appealing word.

And yet –

Faith is unassailable.  Small wonders are unassailable – the magnificence of a child delighting in the way a flower yields to its touch;  the silliness of dancing while taking a walk (me, with my earphones on, and yes, I did make sure there was no one around); those kinds of hugs where you feel completely surrounded by love and warmth; sunlight on spiderwebs…

And somehow it is through that prism that we look everyday – how we hold our days, each other, our lives.  Through its angles we are fractured and we are gorgeous,  a spectrum of dualities that make no sense and yet belong together.  So I repeat, go figure..

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Before The Sun Rises

Hi Deb,

You have helped me through these last few weeks more than you know.  And my gratitude is inestimable.  Thank you for understanding that new chapters are exciting and daunting, bold and frightening, hopeful and rife with doubt.  That I swing between these extremes from one minute to the next, like the proverbial cradle in a treetop.  A precarious position from which to observe one’s days, let me tell you.  Have I snuggled in yet?  Hardly.  Right now I feel like I’m invisible in my own life.  My son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter know me, her family has welcomed me warmly.  And that’s all I know.

And that’s all who know me.  Well, my neighbor Mike – who has graciously welcomed the Sirs, despite Archie’s early morning sun salutations that arguably could wake the neighborhood.  Poor guy, he spent his life with acreage separating him from the rest of the world, so he and Bogey could greet the day with unbridled enthusiasm and only risk the ire of some late-rising birds.  He really doesn’t understand why I’m telling him to ‘shhhh’ at 5:00AM.  I’d like to know that someone knows I’m here, but not necessarily because my dogs insist on it.

Because of my geographical challenges, Andy keeps encouraging me to purposefully get lost each day and find my way back to home base.  Funny guy – his rationalization for my GPS not being updated, I guess.  I’m lost already – and I’m sitting at the kitchen table!  Oh, and did I tell you how I took out my side view mirror as I backed out of the new garage?  Yup – thought I saw a snake (it was an extension cord).  And you wonder about my hesitation to just go?  I’m intrepid in my imagination – it’s safer.

Ah well…life transitions.  I’ve never been good with them as you know, though I’m damn lucky that they happen despite my reluctance.  Just when you feel like you’ve got one aspect of your life down, fate yells “Plot twist!”.  Children grow before you’re ready to let them go; newlyweds get used to each other and morph into something familiar, but different from that frenetic excitement; our inside age begins to disconnect from our outside appearance; life laps at the shore as we’re standing on the boardwalk wondering what the hell just happened while we were looking for the concession stand.  I keep looking at everyone else and wondering why I’m not getting my feet wet.

The truth is this is the perfect time to wade in – because no one knows me, because I am not really visible.  I can try anything I want and it will make no difference one way or the other.  But for the fact that I tried.  And that’s what I’m slowly starting to understand.  I spend so much time fretting over what I did or didn’t do, wondering if I’ve pissed someone off, what I could do to make a situation better – it’s kinda exhausting honestly.  And I don’t have any power other than to try to be a decent human being.  To love wholeheartedly and let go when asked, try and be a little nicer to myself as I haltingly begin to walk to the shore.

And so I circle back to you – and your loving reminder that I’m not untethered, that I belong even if I’m not sure at this point where I am.  Your refusal to let me deflect the conversation away from me (and we both know I’m pretty good at that).  Maybe it’s just knowing that you remind me I’m ok, that you’re my sister,  and when one is loved, precise coordinates aren’t necessary.