Saturday, June 28, 2008


Penelope and I

My friend Penelope was in town last week for a court case. She was angry at the way things went. She thought she had a good case but said that once in the courtroom, it felt as if the decision had been made before the trial. She was angry at herself too for being flustered when told that the afternoon - her time - would be cut to less than two hours. (She was only told this when she returned from lunch.) She'd flown all the way from the Yukon to be treated so unfairly...

Penn and I met at York University, first year theatre arts - nearly 40 years ago - and we've been getting together once or twice a year ever since. Why do some friendships last and others fade away? Although asking this, I remember that Rob and I got together several months ago with a friend from Ryerson - must have been over 35 years since we'd seen Allan. He took the photographs at our wedding. I felt awkward at first - wasn't sure the man in the lobby was him (less hair) but within minutes, it was as if no time had passed.

Penny's visit was a gift. (She hates to have that "y" on her name now - I think of it as an endearment.) I took several days off from my work and simply played. We went for a long walk on the beach and after, happened upon a wine tasting that we both enjoyed (first time I tried $80 a bottle wine), shared an amazing fish dinner at an outdoor cafe, and the next day, we went to see King Lear on the beach - an updated version (set in the near future) with music and chorus. I forgot at times that it was a tragedy... and I had forgotten just how tragic the ending is.

The next day I dropped Penn at the airport and I went back to work for a day.

Tuesday was the finale (hopefully) to Maggie's relationship with the slimy man who locked her out of her own house. She has only been allowed in once with his lawyer present - to itemize all her and their material possessions. But the dreadful man to whom she is still married would not allow her in to collect all. He said that it would be too traumatic for him and named me as her representative. I think he wanted to hide things. (When I asked him towards the end to walk through and see if the movers had packed everything that belonged to her, he refused.)

Maggie and I showed up at the house together. He came down the walk looking angry but she quickly said that she had to give the movers instructions. When the three arrived, they were wonderful - first of all, they took the wicker couch from the porch (that was hers) and sat it on the grassy boulevard beyond the sidewalk - public property - for her to use and there she sat and read. He - the horrible he of her past - went and sat with her several times, brought her diet cokes, and wanted to know yet another time why the relationship had failed - though he instigated the break - he must be extremely thick.

When things were to be split in two or rather, shared - like the baking dishes - he chose and gave me the leftovers. When I complained that he chose the best stuff, he called me petty - didn't recognize the projection. He's a mean-spirited, unkind, self-indulgent, power-hungry, sneaky asshole and I had to bite my tongue more than once to keep myself from lambasting him.

The worst moment was when I was stuck in the attic with him, dividing Christmas decorations. He asked why no one in the family had called him to get his side of the story. I said not a word. He asked what my mother and father thought of him. I said they were angry. And then he proceeded to tell me how unethical my sister is - basically because she would not put his name on the property she had owned before the marriage, and later signed it over to her son. I said not a word but I thought plenty... I wanted the stuff out before I let loose. But I never let loose. In the end, I was exhausted, wished him a nice life and left.

For the next few days, I played through some of our interactions in my head and came up with all kinds of smart things that I could have said but didn't. Why is it always after the fact that the right things come to mind? Though I doubt that any words would have got through his thick head. He blames Maggie for everything. He sees himself as the victim. In reality, he's a small-minded, mean, vindictive little man who isn't willing to take any responsibility for the breakup.

Before I left, I could have hurt him. I could have said that his first wife is "ecstatically divorced." His second common-in-law partner thinks he is a thief. And my sister thinks he's pathetic. But I didn't. I couldn't hurt anyone in this way - but he would have deserved it... I am just thankful that my beautiful, generous, ethical, fun-loving, vivacious sister is finally free of him.

Friday, June 13, 2008


The Way We Were

At 5:30 this morning, he rolled over, groaned, and muttered "Happy anniversary."

I'm barely awake.

"Will you bandage my shoulder," he asks.

"I didn't think I'd grow old with you," I reply, forcing myself awake and watching as he stumbles across the room, naked.

It's Friday, the 13th.

38 years ago we were married.

Every time I mention the number of years we've been together, I am congratulated. This irks me just a little. Do we deserve some award because we've stuck with each other for so long?

Perhaps we do. We've been through some tough times together and, without revealing our secrets, I doubt many couples would have lasted.

Why did we? Should we have? We both say that we don't believe in marriage (though, when we say this, many of our friends laugh in our faces.)


The Way We Are

He'll admit he has trouble communicating though, with time, he has grown better. Just the other day he sent me an email with three words "I love you" and three exclamation marks.

He's said that I drive him crazy though how I do not know.

We don't cling. We don't tell the other what to do. We let each other be. We think little of being apart for 2 or 3 months. We even think this freedom enhances our marriage.

I love watching him when he doesn't know I am watching - when he's sleeping for instance or when he's at his computer, head bowed nodding to music. I like seeing him singular, not in relation to me.

I like to think of myself singular, not in relation to him.

When I am around my parents, they squabble a lot. He tells her she should get dressed before noon, not listen to politics, get off her computer. She tells him he's inappropriately dressed, should not be working at 86, shouldn't fall asleep early evening and then roam the house in the wee hours. (I gently suggested that they let each other be.)

Rob and I seldom squabble. We seldom tell each other what to do. I cannot depend on him to make me happy. (Oh yes, I can tell him what makes me happy. And likewise.) I'm happiest when I make my own plans and do what I like to do - not always easy - especially for a woman who is financially dependent. But I see here that this is one of the reasons I respect Rob. He never lords it over me because he makes more money. He never makes me feel bad about taking off and enjoying time alone. And over the last few years, he's been telling me that he too likes to be alone - so I laugh when he says that it's unnatural to sleep alone. (I like it both ways.)

I do not want to be considered a success because I've been with the same man for so long. I do not consider myself a success for this reason. (Do I consider myself a success? That'll be the subject of another blog.)

I do feel fortunate to be with a man who is most often gentle and kind ("tell me when I'm being an asshole," he says.) I really appreciate that money has never been an issue between us - especially as I was raised in a household where my father controlled the purse strings and, to this day, I doubt my mother knows how much or little he has.)

While I was writing this blog, a big bunch of exotic flowers were delivered - from him to me, with love.

After arranging them in 2 vases, I ran out to run some errands. All the while, I kept wondering how to end this blog, how to tell him that, though not all is perfect - what is? - he's the nicest, finest, best man I've ever met. Is this true, I ask myself? I think long and hard and I decide, yes - he's unique, amazing really... for a man. Oh, I don't mean to be flippant - but I trust him. I'd trust him with my life. I guess I have trusted him with my one wild and precious life. And so I end this blog on a whimsical note: I like the idea of growing old with him.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

For Kate