Obsession

You know what it’s like when you meet someone and you can’t breathe and you feel like someone’s given you a date drug but you know that’s not possible and you keep wanting to stare at the person and you are so self-conscious you can hardly talk? Remember that? Pretty much, most people remember that if they are lucky.

And then what happens is that memory, that electric memory, just goes away and we’re left with whatever decision we made about that person along the way. We could’ve married them, we could’ve dated them, we could’ve just thought about them, it doesn’t really matter. That feeling that you get when you’re attracted to someone is so dangerous because it can cloud rational thinking for your entire life.

I remember having that feeling. I remember meeting someone and thinking that it was the most surprising meeting I’ve ever had in my whole life.

Looking back, I remember after our first dinner we were waiting for our respective cars and it was a cold night and somehow without thinking I leaned back into him and he said something like “ is this OK?”

I didn’t respond to that because we both knew that it was.

We spent a year together off and on because our children were young and sometimes we had to be alone with them and not with each other. We tried to plan our weeks so that we each had our kids at the same time and we wouldn’t be lonely. I remember thinking I wasn’t lonely because I had my kids and I had him and I was fully convinced that he loved me more than anyone had ever loved me before.

Once, when we were on our way to a restaurant in San Francisco and walking past an alley, he grabbed me, pulled me into the dark of the alley, and kissed me in a way that I’ve never been kissed before, to quote a song.

We went to Paris together, we went to Lake Tahoe together, we went to New York together where he asked me to marry him.

We had been dating at that time for maybe eight months and I had not even been divorced a year. Neither had he. We were sitting in a hotel room on the upper east side and he said there’s something I want to ask you. He was pacing at the time which I’ve never seen him do. He said, “stand up”and so I did and he said “the only way I can solve this dilemma is if you marry me”.

I said what dilemma? And then he told me that his ex wife was trying to get back into his life and he felt guilty because after all he was an Irish Catholic and there were two children to consider and if we were married she would stop doing that.

I looked at him.

He said to me you don’t have to say anything I can tell how you feel. You look like a deer caught in headlights.

To be honest, I was panicked. This was the first I had ever heard of this and we’ve been together almost 9 months at this point. I was scared shitless but I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe that this was really happening because I was so convinced what we had together was so strong it would never be broken apart.

I said to him I can’t marry you because I’ve just gotten divorced and it would mean so much upheaval for my children. I think it would be too hard. Let’s just keep on having a great time and after a while I know it’s gonna work out. You can’t go back to your wife. You were miserable!

He said oh just forget about it let’s go out to dinner and things were never the same between us.

We got back to California. There was Christmas to get through and suddenly he just stopped calling. At first I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Honest to God it never occurred to me that this great passion would have an ending. This camaraderie, this intellectual compatibility, this deep understanding of each other: it never occurred to me that this was going to go away. I didn’t believe this could ever happen or even think about it. Nothing could take this away for me as it was the first and last time I’ve ever felt like this.

I called, I wrote, we had dinner, but he never had the guts to sit down and look me in the eye and say “this is breaking my heart but I have to go back to my wife and my family even though it’s you that I love”.

He left phone calls unreturned. Once in a while we would have dinner but he would never come home to my house. I heard through friends that he had moved back in with his wife. It was the most unbelievable thing to me that I had ever heard. I had spent months hearing from him how that would never happen and how she had lied and cheated and he would never go back. I believed him. Just as I believe the clock on my iPhone now.

I thought we would be together forever because it was so good.

I behaved badly for a few more years. I was so embarrassed about my behavior but I couldn’t help it. I would call him and write to him and try to see what he was doing. I couldn’t get him out of my mind.

Years have gone by since things between us ended. To be honest, I don’t really think about him much anymore.We did meet one night in a bar and had too much wine together. Unfortunately it broke my heart all over again and there’s nothing that hurts more than having to put something together a second time.There are so many more pieces.

Last fall I went with a friend to a funeral out in Marin and I chose my seat on the side of the tent very carefully because I did not want to see or be near him. I knew he would be there. A nice young man came and sat next to me and I said to him he looked familiar. As the service was beginning he said I am married to blank blank who is the daughter of this man. For a moment I thought I have to get up and move and run out of here but I decided that at this time in my life I would stay put.

I watched my friend give his tribute to his old friend who had died. It was clear to me that he had noticed me. It had probably been close to 15 years since we’d seen each other. I can’t comment on how he looked because I knew I still loved him and he could be 500 pounds and purple and I still would.

He had the power to make my heart turn in my chest and to make me feel tremendously sad which is a feeling that I have had all too often in my life. It’s almost like if you’re going to sleep and you know you need another blanket so you take the same one from the end of the bed and put it over you but it doesn’t warm you it only makes you immobilized for time.

I’ll probably never see him again. We will never be together. The future I saw so clearly in 1995 will never exist. I don’t know whether it’s better or worse to have felt this kind of love for someone else and to have felt this kind of passion or if life would have been easier never knowing the feeling? People talk about sustainable farming. I wonder if sustainable passion exists?

I only know that with this man I felt like a woman first and It didn’t matter that he was alcoholic, completely sexist, rude, sometimes mean, in the long run I can’t explain it. We had a chemistry that was different and magic and it never changed over the time we were together.

If he came and knocked on my door tomorrow I’d pack my bag and leave with him. There’d be no turning back, there would be no questioning. He’s the first and last guy that I trusted enough to consider traveling with through life and letting him drive.

But then again I’ve made a lot of bad decisions about men.

Sante Fe

I am in Santa Fe visiting a 90-year-old friend. I feel like it’s important to come and visit her every year because you never know when you’re going to lose her. Of course, that’s true about life in general. You never know when you’re going to lose anything. They say being resilient is a very good quality to have in life as those of us who are resilient seem better equipped to deal with what life throws at us.

I never thought I was resilient, as a matter of fact, I sort of thought that I was a wimpy whiner. I seem so scared of so many things. Of course I had this well hidden but there were those who knew about these irrational fears. I made a list of things that scared me when I was in my 40s because I was just done with it. The first thing I did was number one on my list and that was learn to shoot a gun. My teacher said I was a “born shooter” whatever that means but I loved my gun. To be honest I still do. The other night I had a young boy here with his mom and he asked me if I had a gun and I said yes of course I did and so we went upstairs and got my shotgun keys and brought it down and then his mother and I tried to remember how to put it together. It was really hysterical how complicated it seemed but we didn’t give in and let the boy do it.

Here in Santa Fe I went for a walk the other night before dinner because I had been on an airplane all day and I wanted to stretch my legs. The center of town has a lovely Square which is lit up with Christmas lights year-round and surrounded by interesting and often touristy shops. I love to walk around when all the shops are closed and look in the windows and just imagine which things I would buy if I were going to buy anything.

As I was rounding the corner of a jewelry store a white Volkswagen bug pulled up beside me and a young woman stuck her head out the window and said ” hey you !I saw you steal that!”

I have to tell you this frightened me.I thought oh my god who is this person and why is she saying this and screaming this at me? I said, “I beg your pardon?” her screaming got louder and louder and she said “I’m going to call the police right now and they’re going to arrest you because you’re a thief.”

You know, there are many of you will read the story and think how ridiculous that she was upset by it. Most guys would just laugh at her. But here I was alone on the Square in the dark next to a car full of young strong women who were clearly enraged at me and on drugs and repeating nonsense. It was deeply upsetting.

For the rest of my time in Santa Fe I discreetly asked around about increases in crime and anger and problems with tourists being harassed and unfortunately found that this happens all too often. Apparently the police drive around the Square every five minutes. I must’ve missed their minute.

I really love Santa Fe because it’s beautiful and to anyone who is at all creative you can’t help but be moved by the colors of the Adobe houses, the sky, the painted signs in blues and pinks and the presence of wonderful museums and galleries that inspire you.

From the first time I visited here however, I felt a darkness but I couldn’t get out of until I left the town. There are many people here living in extreme poverty and many of them are Indians and many of them owned this land centuries ago.I don’t blame them for being angry.

I think things like what happened to me in Santa Fe are going to start to happening all over this country. In fact, they already have. Every time I get on an airplane I am saddened to see the rudeness particularly among young men who push and shove right by you to grab the last space in the overhead bin. I remember the days where gentleman would help you put your bag in the bin and then say “after you “if your seat was by the window.

In my youth the worst thing I saw was Jimmy Mellon stealing my Halloween candy and he only took the Red Vines, Sure, I was lucky, I lived in a very safe spot. I don’t know how we’re going to turn this around. I have a feeling the anger is too deep. I was reading Elizabeth Warren’s article in Rolling Stone in the airplane on the way here and she spoke about how minimum-wage 20 years ago could actually support a family and allow them to have a house and food on the table and a cozy life. Now the average cost of food for a family of four monthly is approximately $900. The average minimum wage is $12 an hour.

I am teaching math to my fourth graders using this as an example . I am hoping that it won’t make them sad to think that they’ll never be able to make enough money to have a decent life. I’m hoping it will inspire them to look for new elected officials and new ways to behave and to work hard in their lives. I want them to learn the practical skills of survival but I also want them to maintain a hopeful attitude that they can change things in the world. We can’t let it continue on the way that it’s heading. I am on the end of my runway but these kids are just beginning.

I don’t want to be frightened in Santa Fe anymore or anywhere But I don’t know what the answer is.

Travels with Trulia

Trulia is my travel agent of emotional escapes and several times a week I am a voyeur into other people’s lives. There are several settings to consider before I go on my trip: price, location, amount of bedrooms and bathrooms, acreage, and one that I always take seriously which is fireplaces. Once I have made my selection, I begin my voyage. I prefer houses that range in price from 10 to 20 million with at least seven bedrooms because then I have a lot to manage. It’s important to have staff rooms as well. Yesterday I transported myself into a mansion in Pebble Beach, California. The rooms were large and had heavily ornate little metal crosses on the walls and enormous arrangements of dried flowers in dark, muted colors like vampire rooms.There was a dining room with a stand in the corner for reading the Bible and at least three kitchens spread throughout the house. My very favorite room, however, gave me the inspiration that I had been looking for. The master bedroom. There was an enormous bed with a headboard covered in powder and silk and a duvet also covered in the same silk spread over the feet. The nightstands consisted of pieces of glass balance upon carved gold wood made to look like unicorns who are slightly crazed. There, above the fireplace, was a portrait of the mistress of the house and when I saw the portrait I knew I had found my true self. She was blonde with babe hair that hung to her waist and was thick and wavy.She wore a black knit dress, unbuttoned, and a black lace bra under that. The black dress clung to her curves and she was leaning forward with both hands holding onto a couch breasts pressed forward as if to say I’ve got you in the palm of my hand. She was a dame. She was a slut. She was in control. There was no question that this was her House. Oh! How I wanted to be her! Powerful! Sexy! Men falling at her feet! She probably had a gun underneath that black dress. She never suffered from loneliness or despair or depression or anxiety. No way Jose. She just lived in this giant house and swished around the hallways in her black dress and bossed people, Particularly men. It was really hard to leave that Trulia house.I figured if I stayed long enough staring at those photos I would end out being just like her.Fearless and powerful and as a woman who had never been victimized.

In the Desert You Can’t Remember Your Pain

 

In the December desert near the crepuscular 

hour many people experience subtle, ocular

change. Sometimes these changes are

permanent. Saguaros (Te 

quiero) can begin to move

and appear to challenge with their arms

the delicate prickly pear while the Feather

cactus plays, “catch a falling Star“. It is, however,

the Christmas cactus that interests me: 

blooming blood red pink like a baby‘s lips exactly at the

time they say we had a virgin birth.

Who will tell it to bloom now that we have lost faith:

a world divided, no party lines, no Avon lady, no 

agreement  not to kill each other?

 

 

 

The Neighbor

The Neighbor

Each morning the dogs walk her down Chestnut Street.

Past Taylor’s house, empty lot, red mower for sale($95.00) ,

Mrs. Alonzo’s dead flower bed, and she’s got makeup on and

clothes that are good because it’s time to wear the good clothes.

There’s Bob with the two white poodles prancing and Bob prancing

because he can when he’s out of the house.

She always stops at the empty lot, stares at the two abandoned rattan

chairs and wants to slip into one, take a breath from dancing all night,

sip the last of her champagne.

She still hears music.

Remembering Isadora Duncan

I asked for a womb with

a view.

Just a small picture window

to see what was coming.

Even then I wanted

to be prepared.

I think about routes before

I take them,

Conversations

before I have them

and life before I

live it.

Even the garden

Is not spared from prediction

As all I do is prune and refuse

to replant.

They think I dance for myself

But all I do is planned.

Adoption

                                                                  Adoption

I remember when I was young and beautiful but at the time

I thought I was fat and boring. Maybe my mirrors were bad or

my astigmatism was uncorrected.

Now I think I am bewildered about what I did in my life

and why I stayed where I stayed.

I have written to the British royal family and asked them to consider

adopting me. I think I would be a good addition as I know how to dress

and have beautiful table manners and I really feel comfortable with a strict schedule.

I would know instinctively how to back out of a room, and how to occupy

myself during the daytime hours.

I would certainly never embarrass anyone and I like the idea of knowing

what was going to happen for the next 7000 days.

I love dogs so I would fit right in.

I look good in riding clothes even though I am 70 but the horse

always knows I am afraid  of him.

I don’t think it’s a lot to ask of the royal family because they need help

and so do I. It’s a very equitable solution for all. I don’t need a title

though  I would like a crown. I like the idea of living in a house

with many other people who have no idea how many people are actually living

In the house. It’s the idea of all those bodies there that brings comfort

and the prescribed nature of life which is soothing.

Melania

Melania

Melania reminds me of mean Barbie:

You know the one I mean…

You never play with mean Barbie

as you can’t talk her like the others.

You have no idea what her voice would

sound like so you leave her respectfully

in the box. Lord only knows where she’s from but someplace tough.You don’t even remember who gave you mean Barbie. You do have a hunch. So many people can’t connect with kids or anyone for that matter.Giving mean Barbie to a kid is like invisible punishments: you know they are coming but you don’t know when or where. Or what you’ve done.

I have great sympathy for Melania. I may be the only one in California that does. I’d like to know what bargain she made to keep dressing like mean Barbie and holding the hand of the Donald. What is she thinking when she has that expression on her face that makes her look like Cruella Deville? Is it all about money? What would it have been like for her if she just had married a normal guy who couldn’t afford beautiful clothes.

I’m hoping that there’s a reason that’s very compelling that she’s doing this other thing just to be the first lady. It’s one thing to be the first lady to Barack Obama but it’s quite another to be the first lady to Donald Trump.

Maybe she has a plan. Maybe she thinks there’s some tiny way she can make things better in the world. I hope so. People gave me mean Barbies and I never took them out of the boxes.They made me nervous. I have a really hard time with people who are living a disingenuous life. I’m lucky because I have the advantage of being able to live a genuine life.

It’s easy if you lose someone that’s a part of you and your heart breaks and nothing is ever the same again and you keep hoping that you imagined the whole thing but you know you didn’t. Living a genuine life is the only way you can live after you suffered great loss. Things become clearer

And it’s annoying to a lot of people. But the good news is you really don’t care. Truth is a liberator and I guess that’s the benefit of pain.

Parking lot debris

I have a friend who manages a parking lot outside a large office building. The other day she told me that there were no longer many condoms found in the lot but there were many dental picks. I’m not sure if this is good or bad and I guess it depends on your point of view. Good to take care of your teeth but bad to miss out on passion.

My dream come true :my poetry book has found a publisher!

Dear Lucinda,

We would be honored to publish The Favorite.  It’s wonderful.  In fact, it’s so wonderful that I hope you collect a dozen offers to publish and choose the one which will win you a hundred thousand fans, and make you become required reading for poetry classes and Road Scholars across the country.  Actually, that’s a half truth.  We’d be happy if it happened, but we hope you’ll come straight to us despite the likelihood that you could find a larger press with more sophisticated ways of getting the word out.  It’s not often that we find a poet who can make us laugh, wince, laugh again, and float meditatively into the bluest sky Missouri offers.  I’m still floating.

I’ll send a copy of our standard contract to you as soon as you respond.

Betsy