Archive for May, 2007
Imagine that the world is divided into two islands. Men live on one, women on the other. Children really are found beneath cabbage leaves…on either island. There’s a ferry that travels between the two with an elaborate dock at each end. The rules for each island say that men cannot leave the dock at the women’s island without being in the company of a woman and vice versa. They can’t stay more than 24 hours regardless.
Looks like a pretty good plan to me. Need your refrigerator moved or toilet unplugged? Just take the ferry over, fetch back one of the willing men hovering around the dock and then send him home when he’s done. Feeling a little frisky? Take the ferry over and pick one out. Of course they’re doing the same thing.
Who’s island do you think would revolt first? Which island’s inhabitants would be the first to break, twist and mangle the 24 hour rule? What would you miss most about having someone of the opposite gender living in your house?
The balcony of my apartment faces west. I have a table out there, a couple of chairs and my ash tray. It’s become my habit to sit out there while the grandgirls are taking their shower every night. If I were a crow and I decided to fly from my balcony straight across the country to California, I’d end up in the bay area, my birthplace. I still have close family on the west coast, people I miss every single day. Its quiet there on my balcony at that time of night. Barely any traffic, my neighbors shut up tight in their own apartments. If the girls don’t dawdle during their shower, they’ll call me to come dry their hair before the sun has actually started to set. But some days, I’ll lose track of time, lost in my own thoughts and that sun will set, turning the sky to flames. It feels like there’s a party going on without me, just past the tree line between Ohio and California. Irrational.
I’m neat, but I’ve never been especially anal about housekeeping…until I moved to this tiny place. I could be running hours late and I still can’t leave my bedroom without making the bed. Can’t leave the bathroom without hanging up the towels, swishing out the sink. Can’t leave at all without plumping up the sofa pillows. Irrational.
Last weekend my only son graduated from college. Two days of beautiful ceremony’s (baccalaureate and actual graduation). This ranked right up there with my top 10 proudest moments, I actually like speeches and yet…I don’t think I caught 2 words in 10 because I couldn’t take my eyes off the sign language interpreters. Irrational.
In order to simplify my life, I added a one hour commute to my day, dumped the source of 3/4 of my income and abandoned my home. Irrational.
Of the cabinets full of pottery, stoneware and china that Pap and I collected over the years, my favorite was always the brownware. Its collectable not so much because of what it is, but because of who made it. The giants of the pottery industry in Ohio: Hull, McCoy, Scio. But I never cared about that. These homely dishes appealed to me on an entirely different level.
They were common ware. Made in a time when “home making” was the only acceptable vocation for woman. When the job of caring for home and family was not only honorable, but exalted. These are the dishes every bride received at her shower from one grandmother or another because they were “durable”, functional- and inexpensive. These are every day dishes, from plates, cups and bowls to casserole dishes, cookie jars, cannisters, bean pots… they made everything a bride could want in brownware.
Its the “every day” nature of the ware that I love. I never set them out once without thinking of all the miners, potters and farmers that hunched over the coffee cups after a long, grueling day. The news that must have been discussed while forks clanked on the plates…who’s getting married, who’s leaving for college, who’s leaving for Viet Nam, Korea, WW2.
Because it was old, we didn’t use our brownware all the time, but pulled it out for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Despite being modern day working women, the girls and I still got a thrill out of cooking and serving everything in matching dishes, from appetizers through dessert.
Today I sell the brownware. Its not a sad thing, its time for the brownware to go to a new home. The buyer is a thoroughly modern professional woman. She loves the every day nature of this ware, and gets a thrill out of having everything matching.
The view from balcony has changed with the warmer weather. The McMansion is now hidden behind the trees in full leaf. The empty field behind my building is now lushly green with grass. At Pap’s house the bleeding heart I planted three years ago is in full bloom as are the rhodedendrons. That made me sad for a moment, because I miss working in the garden…but then I went inside.
Pap is a stacker. Something that drives me insane, I’m a sorter. Everything in its place, a place for everything. The antique (hand sanded and stained over days, and days, and…) dining room table is neatly stacked with piles of stuff. Mail, newspapers, the miscellany of receipts and change from his pockets, all in their own neat piles. The dishes are washed and stacked in the dish drainer, but he hasn’t wiped off the stove or counters. The pet bowls are clean and filled. The correct number of pills are missing from his medicine box for this day of the week. I’m just starting to think, hey, he’s really working on things, when I hear the meow of a cat. From the ceiling.
Her name is Sis, she used to belong to my daughter Sheena, but she is now, apparently, living with Pap. Sis was adopted from the shelter, she’s never seen another cat she liked or a dog at all. I understand the chaos that must of ensued when he brought Sis into the house with Ruger the maniacal dog, Queen Ophelia and Isobelle from the hood. I can even understand why he put her in one of the empty rooms with her litter box and bowls and shut the door.
What I don’t understand is why, when she squeezed her fat self into the vent in the floor over the kitchen, didn’t he just reach in and take her out? He, instead, removed the dropped ceiling so Sis could see him and the other pets roaming around in the kitchen. She has happily set up housekeeping in the rafters with the crumbling drywall, dust and creepy spiders. And you people wonder why we’re seperated? Jeesh.
Progress has been made tracking down the bad doctor. Next week I’ll post about it, I want to make sure all the letters that needed to be sent are in the hands of the recipients and then I’m narcing this backstabbing hypocrite out.
The sun is shining today, date with Pap tonight, and aside from the moths that fly out of my wallet when I open it, all is right with the world.
I was in the middle of my Arbor Day speech when I saw him slip in the back door. He’s not a tall man. He was dressed like all the other men there: khaki’s, golf shirt, light jacket. Leaning casually against the wall, hands in his pockets, he should have blended into the crowd like any other balding, middle aged spectator. But for as long as I’ve known him, Pap has been surrounded by a kind of glowing light. If he’s in the room, the energy changes, things seem louder, bigger, brighter.
I looked his direction and he smiled, a flash of white teeth shining through his goatee. Luckily, I’m near sighted and wasn’t wearing my glasses. If I could have seen his eyes I would have been completely undone and lost my composure. They’re not just blue… navy near the iris fading out to icy blue at the edges. Shimmering and deep at the same time, Pap has kind eyes. As it was, I could feel him watching me, and that was bad enough.
I keep trying to remind myself that the problems between us have not been resolved. That his efforts to demonstrate he’s heard me are too new to trust as real changes. I tell myself, you’re just tired and worried about money. You’re better on your own. But I’m not.
I fit, like a puzzle piece, right under his chin. In our worst of times, no matter how mad we were when we went to bed, no matter how far away he was in his world of depression, we’d wake up tangled together like puppies. His arm over my ribs, his leg over mine, the feel of his breath in my hair, his heart beating against my shoulder blade. A cocoon of warmth that has always made me feel safe, beautiful, loved.
It will be my undoing, this chemistry between me and Pap.