Another crossroads time. Six months since Chris' death, today. I think of him every single day, some days as a sting in my eyes and an ache in my throat all day long, other days as soft as a whisper. I feel him here, and I know he's gone. I miss him so much, in ways that I never would have imagined it was possible to miss someone. I used to think that I knew about grief. I used to think that I knew. What has all this taught me? That my brain is insufficient to imagine what is in store, because I still have it in me to be surprised. And to fear death.
Today was an odd, wistful, disturbing, frustrating, strange, funny day. I was along for the ride to go fancy dress shopping with a friend and her teen-aged daughter. That is not the sort of thing that would have happened between me and my mom when I was that age, because we were already butting heads like mad. The task would likely have been pawned off on my sister (ugh) or my dad, strangely, who would merely have driven me to the store and waited outside while I made my choice. In any case, this was a different scene, and one layered in all sorts of meanings. In the end, three dresses were purchased, and it appears that the one-shoulder red with bling is the big winner.
Other purchases that were made today include a small portable stool that was handmade by a local woodworker, and a lamp that looks like a Jenga game (see photo at right)--which I got at a garage sale. It was absolutely freezing outside (there is a frost advisory for the whole weekend) and definitely too cold to be spending time outdoors without a darned good reason to be out there. Frankly, a garage sale is not a good reason to be uncomfortable, in my opinion. Anyway, I had been wanting one of those little bench-stools for a while, and am very happy with it. The lamp is just cool. (I love lamps.)
At the mall (our final dress-shopping destination) I picked up a few books, (see photo at left) since I'm now living in a place barren of bookstores. I got the last couple of Best American Poetry entries, the next in Paul Doiron's 'Mike Bowditch' mystery series, and The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief & Healing (Kevin Young, ed.) I know, that one sounds depressing, but I've read it before and it has been more therapeutic than not for my way of thinking.
The first thing that we did, straight out of the blocks, was to go to a silent auction which benefited a local woman who is very ill. Such a thing is naturally sobering and inspiring, and it was really great to see so many people coming out to support her and her family. We went a little crazy with the bidding but given how early it was, I'll be surprised if we prevailed to the end of the day with any of it.
We also struggled with the shocking news that there was a murder last night, apparently just up the road from my friends' house. That's where the woman's body was discovered, anyway, whether her death took place there or elsewhere. She was, from information pieced together throughout the day, in her early 20s and the mother of small children. Obviously there has been only the most sketchy news coverage, but from what has been reported, this was a crime of passion, an escalation of domestic abuse. I don't know how much that should matter to the average person--it's more an issue in terms of enhancement than of the offense itself--but it seems to be a sort of comfort; the idea of premeditation is patently hard to accept.
Winding through this whole day was an invitation that I received earlier this week. There is a theatre group at my undergrad alma mater (in this town). I was not an official member of the group, but I did spend a surprisingly large amount of time with them, considering that I was working two or three jobs, taking a full load of classes, and had my own sets of friends with whom to be involved. But for the last couple of years of my college career, I was a member by proxy because my former spouse had been one of them throughout his tenure here. And because he (and some of his better friends) included me, they all included me. Well, a few of them really loved me. Others put up with me, to varying degrees. Still others were more grudging, but kept it mostly to themselves. A few were openly hostile, and three were blatantly rude or violent. Given that one was a former flame (ugh), one was my then-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend/fiancée, and one was that woman's best friend, it is not shocking that I was unwelcome in their little reindeer games. (Well, the guy was just a bag of dicks, but the women did have some reason for their ill will. Not sufficient reason to try to run me over with a car, but at least reason to be mad.)
A couple of those group members who fully accepted me have planned a reunion. It is somewhat unexpected, because theatre people are not really known for their stick-to-it-ive-ness, but they clearly thought that this was worthwhile and have done what needed to be done to make it happen. A decent chunk of people have been invited (via FB group) and a bunch of others are being tracked down...
...including my former spouse. I've been in contact with one of the organizers, so he is aware of the trajectory of the marriage, but it is apparently not generally known. I don't know how to feel about this, or what to do about it.
I haven't seen him in 12 years, nor talked to him in about eight. We've been divorced nearly as long as we were married, now. I am not opposed to seeing him; he's still one of the best people I've ever known, and though I have no idea what he's been up to lately, I can't but think that I'd think the world of him now, as ever. But I'm also cognizant of the completely different life that he leads, the totally separate world that he has chosen, and the simple fact that we have not shared it up to now. These were his people first. If he wants to come to this reunion and see these people, the ones that I wouldn't know if he hadn't brought me into their group, then I will bow out and leave it to him. If he wants to be there and is all right with me attending as well, then I will go (at least to some of it) and be confident that it will be between us as it is with all of the others: a meeting of old friends. But if he chooses not to come or cannot be there, then I will go, on my own, and be a part of this thing that is a part of my past, too.
The strange (?) element of this is that one of the organizers (the one with whom I've kept in touch) is planning to stay with me while he's in town. And I'm not quite sure What That Means or How I Feel about it, or about twenty other things that I'm not able to articulate yet. I laughed when I got his message letting me know that it was his plan to stay here, and asking if it was all right. I was taken aback, but also very tickled that he would presume such a thing, after all this time. There was a sort of incident earlier this week at work where someone (who I thought knew me pretty well) described me essentially as a sort of autistic ogre, either incapable or unwilling of engaging in most basic human emotions. It is soothing to know that this old friend--someone who knew me in my teens--feels comfortable and welcome enough to rely upon the relationship this way. The finer points can be decided later, if they need to be. For now, I'll be satisfied with feeling known, and needed. After this full and complex day, that's something.
[the title quotation is by Carl Sagan, from Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence]