January 25, 2014

Losing Gracefully. ~ Jenine Durland

It’s time you tell yourself to stop being so sad.

Wake early, sit, send a text to your godmother who you’ll be picking up from the train station soon. Decide to do your laundry despite the small pleasures of rediscovering deep corners of your wardrobe and shopping for new underwear.

Spend the time you were supposed to be walking your dog cleaning up her shit, plugging your nose with one hand as you scrub with the other inside the safety of a Mutt Mitt, marveling at the mold forming on one of the semi-solid mounds.

This, you tell yourself is another reason why you were right to walk away or to let him walk away rather, as now you can’t quite tell what the hell happened anyway. You can place the timing though, remembering your dog’s unfortunate bowel movements returning from visiting dad’s place, where she’d been spoiled with slow-cooked pig necks. You had volunteered to sleep at your ex’s because he had come all the way up the hill to meet 14 members of your family and then, in the morning, you’d lingered over tea.

Appreciate the email from your ex-lover, now married with two kids, who, after telling you to send the erotica, writes, “You are over processing this. He is a guy. He’s developmentally delayed and self-centered. I could go on, but all this focus on whether your divorced parents affect it…I’m not sure it applies.”

Go to breakfast with your godmother. Order a fried chicken sandwich before nine am. Sit down to draft the poem that came the day before, reward yourself with the unparalleled pleasure of sitting with just the right words. Read them out loud. Bow when your godmother’s face streams with tears. Think of your yoga teacher who closes class by holding her hands in prayer and saying, “I honor the place inside where all of the universe dwells. It is a place of light, a place of beauty, a place of love, and when I’m in that place in me, and you’re in that place in you, we are one.”

Empty the laundry basket then go back for the bedding. Strip the sheets, the pillow cases, the comforter covers you hate to pull on and off. Be grateful they’re dark blue, for what you can’t see. Walk the basket through the hallway still lingering with the scent of dog shit.

Laugh when a neighbor chats you up on OkCupid, saying he’s just baked cookies that you’ll be able to smell from the sidewalk. Go say hi.

When he invites you in, start to weigh the possibility of a psycho-killer living in such a nice neighborhood, on a block you walk all the time, with the cookies and his family-studded OkCupid profile. When your dog disappears inside, tell him maybe you should talk out here for a while. When he asks if you’d like water or coffee, decide to follow him in.

Spend the next hour trying to decide if this man; who studied Economics, Hinduism, and Computer Science in college at Cal, who volunteers an immediate explanation of how “a man in his 30’s winds up living in a house like this” by saying he was once married and bought it with different intentions, whose arguiled baby blue cashmere pullover is scented with cologne and just a touch too small, whose speech carries the slightest lisp—is crazy: either crazy-scary or crazy-brilliant. Decide you’d like to start dating men who don’t beg these kinds of questions.

Describe the quasi-date to your godmother and say no when she asks if you told him where you live. Regret describing the make, model, and color of your car—the statement that stopped him on the sidewalk, standing with two hands to his heart as he shook his head, stunned and smiling because it wasn’t a Subaru. Go back on OkCupid, see his message saying ‘you’re very, very cute’. Dismiss the term ‘stalker’ from your immediate vocabulary. Click ‘Find Matches.’ Smile when you find some men who appear to be hot, educated, outdoorsy, and based on their grammar and diction, normal. Give them four stars.

Hold your breath when your ex’s picture pops up, the green overlays saying ‘You chose each other!’ and ‘Online Now.’ Feel the safety of the cliff leave your feet as you click, confront his photo; push through the sudden onslaught as you read his self-summary: ‘A father of two young children, sharing drama-free custody.’ Come up for air, understanding with sudden, perfect clarity that this dating site is a bunch of bullshit, that he’s a manipulative asshole, that we are all writing what we want to write, not who we are. Then go to your mom’s and be bitchy, because you can.

Light candles and power down the computer and smart phone as you deal cards across the table from your godmother. Listen to the wind send branches and leaves so wildly against the walls that you think of tropical storms, the ones you were sure were hurricanes the first time you sat inside your friend’s Florida apartment.

Remember how she laughed as the windows shook and how you walked the dogs past alligators sunk to their eyes in drainage ditches and Cormorants perched stock still on leaf-less trees; remember your wonder and awe.

Debate the pickup and discard rules as your godmother shuffles the cards and you tally the score. Play till 500. Yell ‘Rummy!’ before she goes out with three aces, your hand holding fast to one king and one queen.

Lose gracefully.


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Assistant Editor: Cami Krueger/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

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