“Grant me the spiral staircase of kiss
the real skin to skin ascent.
Grant me the bluebird of such crazy happiness,
feathers to match the horizon of outrageous loving,
I promise famous embraces and incendiary politics.
from, 100 views of the Floating World” ~Judyth Hill
I urgently need to discuss my plan for a fabulously romantic, incredibly profound, excitingly adventurous, politically active, fun, food, art and eros-filled relationship that I shall surely be wonderfully swept –up in, but not to the exclusion of my already fabulous, incredibly profound, exciting lives, because I am now older and thus wiser than to dissolve myself… oh for Pete’s sake, shut up, Judyth.
You don’t want to hear me out on this? I can take it. I’m a grown-up…
…I think. I just can’t prove it. I certainly set an all-time record for adolescent behavior when I finally met my Mystery Muse, the man I spent one year in semiotic ardent courtship, over e and snail mail, no to mention, kergillion throaty-voiced phone hours.
Anyhow, I had been dying to meet him and was waiting for him to agree, and with more than baited breath. I was the bait, and dolled up I must say, looking nearly deliriously casual after about 13 outfits, some sewing, safety pins, duct-taping and a bed full of rejected outfits. Oh, and lots of facial masques and hair scrunching and head tossing. Parading around distraught and dishabille for 4 or 5 hours, driving my ever-suffering landmates kerazzzzzzy.
So he arrived, very late, and we met. But am I the kiss and tell type? You betcha. And the kiss and tell and tell and tell type too, it turns out. I was, well, you know, uh, anticipatory, in the extreme. Like very.
At some point in the wee hours, up in our sweet little guest cottage, he told me in no uncertain terms that we had all the time in the world; what the hell WAS my rush? Clearly he may have had all the time in this and any other world of his choosing, but I had minus 3 minutes in that bedroom, and counting. I pulled the Sorels back on, and in a semi nearly-dignified manner, strode out into the snowy, moon dazzled night (a die-hard nature poet to the last). He called after me, “careful, your shoelaces aren’t tied”. To which I replied, in the teenage version of just-under-your-breath, but sure to be heard, “whatevvvvvver”,then stopped myself.
What was I doing? This is my land, my home, I’m the mistress here, and he is our guest – wouldn’t I be perfect in a Jane Austen novel? (can I have Mr. D’Arcy now?) – I turned right around, marched myself back in and apologized for my inhospitable tendencies. Then, I went to my room, took a long bath, sobbed awhile, read awhile and got mostly over it. Pretty quickly too, for me. Well, it was less than five years anyway.
The next morning he left. I rose at 7, made a pot of excellent coffee and poured hot water into his thermos (to warm it). Ah, the perennially good, good girl inside the terrible, terrible hussy. I warmed a couple of pieces of quiche and a cinnamon roll (gonna bake my way into his heart, was I). I did this mostly with my toothbrush replete with paste clenched between my teeth, insuring I wouldn’t mouth off too much, or if I did, it would be safely unintelligible. At some moment the toothbrush got removed, and he kissed me. Shyly, but well. I turned and kinda fully caught it, Tom’s Wintergreen Super-White and all.
Then he left. He promised to return; does it means never in this life, or what? Actually, he said, after the holidays, on his return trip north. But he didn’t. Instead, called, saying, maybe, in the Spring. Yup, I did it again. I walked, no waltzed, no ran myself smack! bang! big wall! big ouch! into another semi-unavailable-yet-so-desirable-man-type item.
Multiple choice question! He couldn’t see me until 5 months from now because: A. he has a Suburban B. a doctor’s appointment C. It could snow D. it did snow, once, surely it did E. all of the above? If you pick any one of the above you are right, go to the head of the class, but pull down that skirt, if you chose E, you are a genius and have earned the right to re-take and ace the SATS and finally, get that Harvard education you have been needing all these years.
I’m going to. I swear this time I’ll take the Junior year in Paris instead of the mean boyfriend in the my-father-pays-for-it upper West Side apartment and picking my split ends and crying in the Sarah Lawrence library all semester option. I’ll travel & then I’ll study something deeply useful, like Columbia men with trust funds. I will not follow mean man to Santa Fe and probably not marry the ex. Seems like a waste of time now, right? This will free me, one hopes, from meeting the next ex. But what if I have different children? That is not acceptable. I adore my children. I bet I get these kids again. I earned them. Sheesh, surely I am way, way too mature for the what if I gave a bad date and nobody came, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, or, dang, remember this, Judy’s turn to cry. It can’t always be my turn to cry can it?
I’m too old for this: one WOULD think, wouldn’t one? Maybe if I had a doctor’s appointment and a Suburban I wouldn’t want to see me either. What part of no don’t I listen to? The entirely departed Ex told me no, on and off, for 17 years, but I kept thinking: he can’t mean that, he loves me. I’m special, aren’t I? I’m the One. My mother told me I was and besides, I’d think, he’s still here, right? Until he wasn’t and wasn’t and wasn’t.
The Scotsman told me no in the Queen’s English or Robert the Bruce’s roll those rrr’sss English, or whomever’s English, while wearing a kilt, and looking pretty damn fine anyway. The Mystery Muse told me his – all power to the paradox- version of yes/no, in couplets, triolets and long elegant spools of mingled arcane and conversational iambics… any first year lit major, distance acquired MFA or other poetic hopeful would have gotten the point.
I hung his poems on the fridge, talked on the phone ‘til he sun came up, pined, sighed, took long baths and cried a lot. My forte.
Here’s the upside: I wrote kergillion poems, lost weight, gained skin tone, shimmered and sparkled and shivered. I fell in love, and that is ever and ever, worth doing. And really, what would this life be without our passionate, risk-willing, high-wire-no-net, hearts?
Muse he is, and muse remains, and I remain in love and “solid in the mystery”, which, he often reminded me, we poets must be. And he has returned – as the deliciously fascinating compadre to my writing life, an enchanting voice in the night, gorgeous poems in my inbox…
However, gratitude for that aside, could I please be done with the almost, so almost, thing? Can I stop the Neiman-Marcus window-shopping and visit the All Night One Stop Shop of whateveryouneedooobaby? What does it take? A claw hammer? A vise grip? A socket, excuse me, wrench? Rollicking love on the beach with the guy that’s been your best friend for twenty years? Could try all of the above & skip the MFA. Go straight to Mexico, pass go, collect 200 pesos, new silver jewelry, a tan, your hair cornrowed with beads, many icy, salted margs and apps involving satiny avocados, camerones con limon y chile roja; have too much fun, and keep faith in the possible horizon of lots of I-think-the-earth-moved, pinch-me-I’m-dreaming, kind of thing. Staying solid in the mysterious, goofy, yes, yes, yes, that we will and despite everything, keep saying yes to love, in whatever form it may come to us.
Edited for elephant journal by Jennifer Cusano, elephant Love and Relationships Editor.
I am a poet, teacher, author, living wildly as ever, on our bougainvillea bejeweled ranchito, Simple Choice Farm, just outside San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Though I have published 6 poetry collections, innumerable magazine articles, & wrote the hit-the-Bigtime poem: Wage Peace (it’s right here in elephant journal!)and –woweee!— I take writers & foodies all over the World on Wild Writing Culinary adventures, www.eat-write-travel.com …What cracks me up is when I am asked: Are you STILL writing?? So…I say…Wellllllll, actually I decided there was better money in astro-physicism….so I’m trying that out, kinda temporarily, while I’m in beautician school and working nights at WholeFoods, getting ready to take the bar exam, but that’s just in case: cause my heart is still pre-med, ya know?