Tuesday, 19 February 2008

February stars.

    Hanging on here until I'm gone
    right where I belong
    just hanging on

    Even though I pass this time alone
    somewhere so unknown
    it heals the soul

There are only three writing days in this week. I've cleared them and will be spending them alone, ensconced high in my house in the glass room at the end of the hall. The terrarium. The observatory. Everyone has a different name for it, the creepy glass Victorian half-greenhouse that sticks out the back of the house that I love so. In that room are some plants and a table and a chair. One chair, just for me. From what I understand it was an open balcony at one point and someone glassed it in in the most gothic and wonderful way. This little cold cracked room is why I wanted this house.

Yesterday was a holiday in it's infancy, Friday is a half-day of school for Ruth and Henry and so I have today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow to get some work done.

This morning I put on a long black and white sweater and a pair of incredibly baggy army-green cords, tied a messy bun with a pencil at the nape of my neck, found my mocs and brought up my laptop with me, a huge steaming mug of coffee, a piece of carrot cake and a silent mental lament, why on earth would anyone put cake together with vegetables and I know I'm awful but I actually canceled every last therapy appointment I had this week, mostly because last week there were a few doubles anyway and Joel is always a phone call away, I could bend his ears. He'd prefer it, actually.

Wait until he doesn't see me walk past his office today.

Ben woke me up this morning with a call, his voice sounding rawer by the minute. He asked me how my cold was and I said it was ravaging me beautifully, that I was vaguely foggy-headed and a little drippy and raspy and then I sneezed all over my phone and he laughed softly and suggested I drink tea instead of the coffee today. I asked him how he was feeling and he lied and said fine even though twice he held the phone away and coughed into his sleeve.

He asked if I was wearing the ring and I pointed out that since it was six in the morning that I was wearing absolutely nothing and it was so warm under the blankets I hated to leave them, but I did leave them shortly after we hung up, anxious to catch a shower and get the laundry started before I got the kids up for school so I can have less time running up and down three flights of stairs to the dryer in the basement.

He asked if I would wear the ring when I got dressed. I asked him if that would make him happy. He said only if it was done as an answer to his question. I said I didn't have an answer yet because the man who gave me the ring said he didn't care how long I took and I need a long time. He said he wished he could see into the future and I told him he didn't want to do that.

Reminders. Memories everywhere, covering everything with an inch of heartache and a layer of fresh pain. He stirred all of it up where it was settling. I had backed into a corner and slid down so I was hidden from view, obscured under the leaf of an old, peeling-paint table, sitting on the floor with my knees drawn up, my arms around them, hugging myself so I wouldn't be cold but I would be alone but Ben thinks the curtains should be open and the window up and the lights on and the leaf down so that there are no shadows, nowhere to hide, nothing to keep secret, nowhere to go to get away from life with it's relentless march forward. Not as a way to fix a thing, but just to keep going because if you don't keep going then you are dead.

It's a logic that is simple and flawless and slays every attempt to excuse my behavior. It's a plea. This time for Bridget, taken with a grain of salt as big as the chip on her bony shoulder is a promise that a man will have patience and a generous encouragement to take time that is needed all the while he walks behind me telling me to hurry up, can't he just have everything and he promises it will be awesome just hurry. But Bridget feels the sting of the salt and the grind of the weight of that chip and she knows better. She's touched by the efforts and the passion and the sweetness and even sometimes the haste and she recognizes the pattern and she knows that he won't wait, that he'll sometimes be frustrated and sometimes be angry but she's going to take whatever she needs and do this not to make him happy but to make her better.

Sometimes she is so close and sometimes so far. Sometimes things seem so normal and it's like falling into a trap. But always, always know that now, she knows what to look for and to stand her ground.

I asked Ben if he would not ask about the ring each morning, that soon I was going to resent it and then he would resent me, and that when I was ready I would just put it on and it was so beautiful he wouldn't miss it when I did, but that for now it was going to stay in the box and I might not look at it for five days or five years and if that wasn't okay with him he needed to speak up now before I finished falling, or hiding, or making a mistake because I have to be careful now, I'm operating without a complete heart, so any more heartache would finish me off.

He said fifty years was just fine, as long as I am his.

And I said I was.

And when he sniffed I asked him if he was crying.

And he said only a little. And somehow it's more than enough to warm me as I sit in this little glass room in the sky. A turret for the princess, but oh, such a fragile one. Made of glass and iron. Just like me.