Mercury is retrograde and that means reminders of the past crop up everywhere. I went out with C Saturday night to hear Paul Drescher's new opera The Tyrant, (interesting, but static--just one man singing the whole time. I thought it would be better to bring in other voices.) At the theatre we bumped into one of his old girlfriends, and then afterward, when we stopped at Le Bateau Ivre for a glass of wine, another of his old lovers.
I teased him about it, but it doesn't feel bad, it feels right and rich and strange--we are both entering something so familiar and still new, that state of in-loveness when you tell your story to the other person, the layers and layers of story, the old lovers who hurt you, the ones whom you hurt, the mistakes you made, the things forgiven and not forgiven.
Afterwards we went to the Rose Garden, climbing down in the dark past frangrant rustlings, to the center of it, and tilted our heads back and looked at the stars. The Big Dipper is still the Big Dipper, and will be after both of us are gone, which is a great comfort.
Love in mid-life is more passionate than I ever would have guessed, but also tinged with melancholy. Just now, after a date with my little sister, stringing word-beads on a necklace and then seeing Spiderman 3--a terrible movie, but James Franco was great, and the allegory of the Sandman was kind of cool if overwrought--I took a wrong turn off the freeway bringing her home. I ended up getting off at the same exit--16th Ave.--where I used to get off to go home to Alan in our first apartment in Oakland, the first year we lived here when I was so lost and he was so sick.
Just that old obscure dark exit brought back so many feelings to me, like a physical rush of melancholy, and I remembered with painful clarity just how desperate I was, how grinding reality was, how hopeless, how it seemed I would never be happy, had never been happy, could never be happy.
This after a lesbian Jewish-Native American wedding today where everyone told me how well I look, and it's because I'm happy, happy, happy, and I'm reminded what a miracle that is when I get off the freeway at 16th Ave and am immediately transported back in time to 1990. Alan and I lived in a cold blue apartment in a Victorian, above a photography shop and across the street from some other industrial building that wafted dangerous chemicals. He was sick a great deal of the time, and when he was awake he was working. I was so unhappy I could barely breathe and our aprtment was cold and bare, all gleaming wood, no rugs, no carpets or natural warmth, no plants.
I didn't know how to make the place pretty, and I didn't know how to heal myself or Alan and I didn't know anyone except co-counselors whom I couldn't socialize with, and Alan's family. I was desperately unhappy and ashamed of myself for not being able to make a better adjustment. Every time I got in the car I got lost, and the neighborhood was grim--prostitutes worked the strip on International Blvd, around the corner from our apartment, and I'd find syringes and condoms in our parking lot.
There was no green around us and I didn't know how to get to the green places. I didn't know how to get to anything. Every time I got behond the wheel I got lost and kept ending up at the Coast Guard Station in Alameda. That winter of '90-'91 was so cold and we had no heat; we closed off the kitchen and sat in front of the open oven door like Russian peasants.
There was a claw-footed tub but no shower so I took baths. One of my few pleasures was going to the Farmer's Market--I went religiously, every Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning--and I got to know some of the farmers. One of them told me how to make zucchini--saute a garlic clove in olive oil, add the zucchini, add some red wine and cover. It turned out so well, and I liked the garlic so much that I sauteed cloves and cloves of it. I ate sauteed garlic until I threw up; the whole bathroom stank of it, and Alan could barely get near me, I was excreting garlic through my pores.
Persimmons were a revelation to me--I had never tasted them before. Jicama was new. Poemgranates I had seen and tasted before, but never in such abundance. Our relationship to food was fierce and unbounded; our relationship to each other full of silences, secrets, things we couldn't say.
C and I have been saying even the things we are afraid might freak the other person out; so far nothing has. Intimacy. I felt so far away from even the possibility of having this a few months ago and I am so in the soup now. Everything changed so quickly. Is changing, and ever-changing, and I am just open-mouthed in gratitude. And all the while the awareness of death dogs our footsteps--C is much more firm and persistent about facing it than I am; he is getting his affairs in order--I am sill in some kind of adolescent denial, acting as if I will live forever.
I want to live out this love. I pray for time in which to really know what it feels like to circle the seasons in love, to keep growing this intimacy, to watch his dreams evolve and fruit, to watch my own dreams flower and change. There was so much I didn't know the first time around--I had no clue, really. And the membrane is that thin between knowing and not knowing, between darkness and light, between joy and despair. I am on this side of that thin line now; I was on the other side of it before. I was on the other side of it for many years, God help me, and I see other people on the other side of it and I want to reach across and pull them over but I can't.
As I drove past the dark and gritty exit where I used to live I felt so sorry for that young woman, 31 years old, completely isolated, thousands of miles away from friends or family, with no clue how to be intimate with her husband, and no life of her own established. It has taken seventeen years to grow from there to here.