“All your dreams and your lovers won’t protect you;
they’re only passing through you in the end.”
– Neil Young,
“Star of Bethlehem”
I could make this entry a long, meandering meditation on the history of Romantic Love in the Western world, but I’m too exhausted. Or, worse, so depressed my curiosity is stunted to the intimately obvious, which is the fact of my husband filing for divorce after sharing our lives and bodies for more than 17 years.
I could also write, in the New pop-culture Feminist style, about how after eating chocolate and gaining 5 pounds I’m going to “hit the gym” (why is it always “hit;” what a crude species we are), put on a hot dress with no bra and fuck and fight my way back to the True Victorious Me. A girl, no scratch that, a Woman on the town, with sexy perfume, Great Kids who have triumphed over the pain of having their worlds split asunder, and a balanced, steadily growing bank account. And don’t forget the friends! Of course I need to have post-divorce friends, an amazing, Strong group of Women who laugh and read and travel and can receive phone calls without irritation at 2 AM.
Thanks Lena Dunham! You’ve done so much to further the cause of the White Woman in a Bubble.
Perhaps that should be my storyline. It is, after all, just a story. Girlhood, ingenue, young creature not quite woman, woman, woman in middle age, aging woman, aged woman, ancient woman: all simply the myth of time, the exquisite illusion of creative impulse, what a Samkyah practitioner might call prakriti, the simple material foreground to the invisible face of God.
In that case, all reality is an invention, a postulation which the brilliant Kofi Busia once vigorously agreed with when I posed the idea as a criticism. “Yes yes,” the great man said, “an illusion of our own making.” Shadowplay, an aside muttered from Visnu’s dreams.
Two days ago I sat huddled in a grotesque heap of river-running tears, hot skin and yoga pants that have not left my body in four days as my husband, whom I had 30 minutes previous been hoping like a small child might hold me, hold me, took me down like a fucking fighter pilot with perfect aim.
“There is no relationship. There never has been. You don’t live in any kind of reality, we have just circled around each other for years.” He paused, but only to take a breath: “And then, you know, the children. So it became, I don’t know, complicated. So when I left, it came like a flood.
I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to be with you anymore.”
I noticed we were in our usual fight postures: I was on the bed (or in the bath or on the floor or on a yoga mat) and he was standing, thin, imposingly tall, looking, as he has looked for a long, long time I now know, down at me.
I look down at me too. I suppose he got tired of sharing the view.
On this particular day, my bedroom, as it still is, was covered with boxes and unwanted bullshit – it’s all bullshit – from my recent move into a home we used to live in together, and I will now live in, don’t ask me how, alone with three children.
The room was a mess of clothes I’ll never wear again (I have since made bags Goodwill might go into shock upon receiving), 4 inch heels that used to make me almost, but not quite, as tall as him, which I girlishly loved and today ragingly disposed of, and lipsticks and perfumes that serve now only to remind me that I am 1) ugly and unwanted and 2) delusional for believing otherwise for so many years. Prakriti + delusion = ignorance, or, beautifully, avidya. In spades.
In the mess of my body, my bloody heart slowly losing heat in my hands, and the absurd, vain collection of dresses, silk shirts, tiny jeans, tinier underwear, I had meticulously placed in a light filled window a small bronze Buddha. I am too pious, it is a sign of stupidity (so is staying in a marriage in which one’s lover lost long ago his love, but this, too, is a piety), but I love this statue, I love his feminine grace, his sweet hands in Dhyana mudra. About this statue my daughter has asked, “Is Buddha real?” I have no answer. So I say, “Sort of. Real like your heart.” This Buddha comes everywhere with me, but like a good Buddha he has never saved me, and two days ago I stared at him while my husband divested me of the thick fine drapery of my youth, my late girlhood as it evolved into married womanhood, all those years, and left me, naked, old, without history, without future, and a present too unbearable to acknowledge.
This is what I thought, the proud false pillars of I am that fill our days and dreams:
I shall be a yoga teacher, a teacher who devotes her heart to Ashtanga Vinyasa but fills her mind with the analytical comprehension of an Iyengar practitioner. One day, I’ll have a tiny space, humble and sweet, and I’ll sell fine books and beautiful oils and teas in the front. I’ll contact Patrick Roger, and be the only purveyor of Paris’s best chocolates in Colorado.
I will, I will, I will.
Have you seen Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde? You may not remember the film, but surely you recall the brilliant scene in which she turns her sorority smile cheeks to the screen, close in, her eyes wild with triumph, and she in a perfectly pitched half-yell speaks the one word we all understand: “ME!!”
It is the highest, also rather disgusting, irony that this image reflects how I have approached opening a studio. My future, supported as I was by a partner, a husband in tech, would remain open, creative, fluid – so unique, because, well let me admit it now, there was a husband who would stand by and with me, and my accounts could go up or down depending on the season, the weather, my own travel, because he would be steadfast and true.
What the fuck was I thinking? I love my husband and he fucked me over, but I helped him right along. A vain, self-serving little child with a Buddha on her windowsill: would you not leave as well?
But… love. The Grand Love, the Great Love, the sort that knocks you down, punch to the middle, all the world lit in sparkled crystal like the opening act of Giselle. Joy. Sex and touch and the secret parts of the mind, the body, the history of the body; for the lovers there is only the Uniting, so much that it is pain, true pain, because in real Love one knows that there is some kind of ending.
Did he ever feel this way about me? As it turns out, no.
Which makes me sad for him, and because I love him I want him one day to know that love, that Unity. I think he will.
Seventeen years. Travel and booze and sex and moving; then the hard years of miscarriage, stillborn boys, followed by the euphoria of our brilliant son, my Sun, now 9. More moves, more children, a nervous breakdown that finally, I think, broke him down. And who can blame him? There she is, with her asana and her meds and her toy-Buddha with light streaming over him.
Perhaps in losing everything that Eastern sun streaming over Buddha’s shoulder will grant the infinite gift of insight to this selfish, lost girl in an old woman’s body. Perhaps not. But, as my ex-lover said, there are the children… and despite my almost uncontrollable desire to take my passport, a handful of (his) dollars and board a plane, one way, to anywhere, I will stay. I will stay, I will stay, I will… I will myself to stay and give them the presence I apparently never gave to him.