Sunday, August 30, 2009

Afterimage


Early last week, quite unexpectedly, I received a copy of Afterimage by Helen Humphreys in the mail. It's a glorious book -- I reveled in it and have since written about it at some length elsewhere.

I'm mentioning it here because this is the only place where I can acknowledge something: it had to be from Tigs. And I love that she knew I would love it, would find it spectacularly meaningful. I love that she cared enough to send it.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Life Is Good!

As the saying goes, "It sure beats the alternative."

My last post was three full months ago, which is a new record silence since I started "Apollo's Fire". But lots has been going on.

I'm not sure how many human readers I have left, but I'm sure there are a few RSS readers still patiently checking for updates. So for the benefit of those faithful servers checking the feeds I thought I'd briefly bring things up to date.

Three Months Ago

My wife E and I have a timeshare week in early May. This is the first time it's come up since we've been separated and we decided to split the week. It's only about an hour from home. On the day that we "crossed" in mid-week we agreed to hang out and have dinner.

This event was one of the "bridges to cross" that I had set myself. I wondered how it would be. The setting has always been a romantic one for both of us. Would there be flutterings of renewed desire?

Well, there weren't. And this affected me a lot -- it was a marker, in my mind, pointing me further down the path toward dissolution of our marriage. The few days I had to myself were pleasant and reflective, and by the end of the week I decided to send a short note to Tiggy.

Tigs and I had had no direct communication since November and hadn't seen each other since last July. At some point I may tell the full story of our exchange, but here's the executive summary: she was glad to hear from me, but also hurt because I was stirring her emotions with nothing substantive to offer.

She even drew me a picture: me sitting in a boat with E while I baited a hook and dangled it over the side into the water. Tigs was a golden fish swimming below, with old hooks stuck in her mouth. I cried.

I really do like Tigs -- she speaks the truth to me in ways that touch my soul like no one else. It's not usually pleasant, but it's almost always helpful. I think we both made heroic efforts to communicate, and she really did get through to me. As painful as it was for both of us, a week's round of email was sobering. In the absence of real contact it had been too easy for me, and perhaps her as well, to maintain an imaginary relationship.

Anyway, the main effect on me was to finally break the near-obsession that had been ruling my life. In some ways it was as if the enchantment had been lifted. But it left me empty and more confused than ever.

Two Months Ago

Last year E and I had bought a prepaid trip to Hawaii that needed to be used by the summer of 2009. We had gone ahead and made plans to travel together, even though neither one of us was sure how it would go. I think we both thought that it would be either the last hurrah, or a new beginning.

The trip was in early June. We even stayed in separate rooms, but other than that we did everything together just as we've done on vacations for 30 years. And we both had fun. It was nice -- not hugely romantic, but very, very comfortable.

Afterward, we both wondered where we should go from here. E made it clear that she didn't want to settle for a "brother-sister" platonic marriage. I didn't want that either, but with Tigs out of my thoughts, I found myself in even less of a hurry to dissolve the marriage. The practical, financial consequences of divorce have been weighing heavily on me.

One Month Ago

Well, nothing in particular happened a month ago, but I wanted to keep the timeline moving.

Some of you will remember that I have a major remodeling project going on at the house this year. Major as in "completely gutting the downstairs, building a new kitchen, powder room and entryway." No, I'm not doing it myself, we have a contractor. So what's been happening over the past month or so is that E and I are spending a lot of time together as we get closer to wrapping up this project: we get along well, we enjoy each other's company, and we need each other.

At the same time, we are beginning to talk more seriously about our individual needs. Neither one of us wants to try to "go back" -- we know we can only go forward. And we still don't know if we can offer each other everything we want in marriage. But neither is there any hurry to rip things apart.

Next Month

In a month my lease is up at the apartment where I've been living since last August. I thought a lot about moving home, especially to save money. But neither E nor I are ready for that step. And due to some unusual circumstances, it turns out that I can move into some rental property that we own.

So I'll be settling into a comfortable condo in an arrangement that is much more stable and could conceivably be permanent. And it's only a mile from the house.

It's a good arrangement under the circumstances, and I have every reason to be hopeful about where it leads. But I'd be less than honest not to admit that most days now I just feel tired. And when I look in the mirror I see some old guy I barely recognize.