Sunday, December 19, 2010
This story begins like many others before it, which is to say, it begins in the middle. Today is my birthday. People say I look remarkably young. I suppose this is true. I take no credit for genetics. Possibly it's that I don't weigh much more than I did as a teenager. Possibly it's because my hair is long and straight and shiny. It could be because I tend to wear jeans and sneakers. It could be all of those things but I believe that really, it's because I've never had a good idea of how any age is supposed to feel. If I'm not feeling a particular age, or thinking about one, it would follow that I wouldn't project one either.
That, and I have pretty good posture.
It's about 9am on a drizzly day, which is just the sort of day I would have chosen, had I been given a choice. The mountains are shrouded in gray. They loom mysteriously, just the way I like them. Tomorrow they will very likely be mantled in snow, also just the way I like them. The temperature is mid-fifties.
I stand in our front yard while Spencer sprays water on the Christmas tree we just put into a stand. The tree's been trussed up for some time as evidenced by the reluctance of its branches to drop. But the water is doing the job gently and the tree is shaping up into a lovely and fragrant Douglas fir.
I pick an orange. Water sprinkles down from the branches above. Oranges from our tree are different from those at the store. The peel is thicker and less oily and when I dig my thumbnail in to break through it there's an audible "pfffff." The zest is a fine, visible mist and, through it, I see the black and white police cruiser pull up to the curb.
The officer and I exchange greetings and I offer to go inside to get a copy of my restraining order. No need, he explains. He's familiar with my case. But it's been awhile. In fact, he asks me, didn't my hair used to be blond? Not for quite some time. He remembers the giant poppet sculpture that once sat on the bench. "I know it wasn't," he tells me, "but I always wanted to call it an angel. In my mind it just got stuck that way. Weird." Not so very, I think. He glances around as though expecting it to reappear. I'm grateful that it doesn't. I tell him about this morning's violation--the surprise appearance of my restrained ex husband in the cough drop aisle at Walmart. He wasn't out to hurt me. He wanted to talk. I understand this. He has a burden of unresolved pain. But encounters have proven unpredictable and damaging. The option of talking has been lost. It's been some time since I've seen him that close, nearly three years since the assault. It seems like forever. This morning, it seems like yesterday.
The officer says he's aware of the three violations reported yesterday. Yes, I tell him, it's been eventful. We talk about the moon and human nature. We talk about cycles and how human beings are connected to them. We talk about winter solstice. He's noticed a longish lull in reports. He wonders why things are suddenly active again. Not so suddenly. I had stopped reporting. It seems to be a phenomenon of these situations, probably very common, where the burden of reporting eclipses the burden of the actions being reported. The reporter assumes responsibility. All these feelings. The grief of what was lost. The nagging bit of doubt that maybe, if only I had...if only I hadn't... and the idealistic hope that peace will be found, reason restored, some new friendship forged from the remains of love. Somehow, at some point, I'd hefted responsibility onto my own shoulders. If I report this, there will be consequences. Reporting becomes a choice. The choice. How is it that I took this on? How arrogant of me to have done so, as if I'm in charge. The consequences, however I wouldn't wish them on anyone, are a result of the actions, not of the reporting of them.
The officer hands me the blue card. I have enough of them now for a Tarot, I think. He wishes me well and glances about once more before leaving. His senses tell him that the statue must still be there, somehow.
Today is my birthday. There is deep sadness here, and deep beauty. I watch Spencer, quietly preparing our Christmas tree. Inside, the kids watch Coraline, an excellent movie written by an excellent friend who's made my life better more than once. I have many good friends whom I secretly suspect I don't deserve because time to spend with them is nearly always squandered on art. Soon, we'll decorate the tree. I breathe in the scents of evergreen and oranges and rain. I watch the crows fly overhead against a deep gray sky. I follow them with my eyes, instead of crying. Crows are always better than tears.
Today is my birthday. It's Day 1 of this year I've selected. I've begun by laying down a burden I picked up in error. I step quietly into the mystery of what comes next.