Sunday’s Theme Music

I encountered a friend on the street. He was coming out of a store and I was walking by. Eighty years old, his wife is two years younger. She’s having medical issues.

Married for fifty years, his only spouse, he seemed like he was going through the process of thinking about life without her. They’ve downsized their home twice in the last eight years, but her mobility is going, as is her vision and her mental acuity. In his words, “It all seems to be falling apart for her.”

Sad, and an often heard story. I commiserated with him, but what struck me was his comments about being nothing without her. He said, in his thinking, everything that he’d done after getting his college degree was about her, and then their family that they created, and their life together. It was his constant motivation.

After we parted and I thought more about what he’d said, “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence (1995) slipped into the stream, a song about being nothing without another.

 

Floofmencement

Floofmencement (floofinition) – An act, instance, or time of beginning an experience with, or engaging with, an animal.

In use: “With many people, floofmencement began with looking into an animal’s eyes. From in there, people grasped love, pain, sadness, hope, among other emotions, and took it on themselves to be with and help this creature.”

Befloofed

Befloofed (floofinition) – The animal to whom one is completely and solely committed in a monofloof relationship.

In use: “She would’ve enjoyed having another rescue cat in her home, even two more, but Flash made it clear that they were befloofed and wasn’t interested in an open relationship with any other animals, or people.”

She Thinks

Sitting with friends, laughing while nibbling a scone (blackberry, overbaked, it doesn’t taste that good, and she’s not that hungry, but she bought it because the rest insisted, “Get something,”), celebrating (after the fact) a friend’s birthday, an epiphany strikes her.

Inspired by Barbara’s recounting of her husband’s recent illnesses (he’d gone through surgery but developed an infection), Diana and Belle are speaking about their late husbands. Both died of heart attacks in their mid-sixties.

She thinks about her husband, two years older than her (and in his mid-sixties). Coughing for days, he’d been listless, and getting worse, it seems. He’d always been a health freak — didn’t and doesn’t drink except for an occasional social beverage when they’re out (which she usually finishes for him), and a pescatarian for over forty years (no, almost fifty years, to be more accurate, always important to her). He runs five miles a day four days a week, cycles everywhere, and rows with a club several times per month, activities that he’d needed to curtail when he’d become ill. A cup of coffee a day, he always said with a wink and a grin, is his vice. Yet, he seemed to be getting sicker.

His illness really started over two years before. He’d seen doctors, and everything was great. (“They tell me that I have the arteries of a teenager.) This is when her epiphany is delivered, a thought so striking that it sucks the air out of the room and her lungs. The voices fade. Dizziness topples her.

Others say suddenly, leaning in, touching her hands and shoulders, concern on their faces, “Are you okay?”

She smiles. “Yes, fine, what?” She shakes her head. “I just got distracted. I’m sorry. What were we talking about?”

They buy it after a few seconds. When the attention leaves her, she thinks, is her husband slowly killing himself to keep her from being happy?

It’s audacious and ridiculous, but she thinks, it’s keeping with his character. He’s always been something of a passive aggressive, secret saboteur. His mother, sisters, and cousin had told her stories about how he’d undermined friendships (and an engagement). He was always sneaky when he did it. He’d been the same at work throughout his career, a liar, essentially, but very clever about it, damaging relationships when he did, but always as an innocent, and almost always believed.

Now, he’d retired. No family lived nearby. He has few close friends (were any of them close to him?). Could he have turned his attention to his relationship with her?

She thinks, how? (He could be poisoning himself.) Why? (Because that’s who — what — he is.) She thinks, I have no proof. It’s insane for her to even consider it. Yet, the idea remains moored in her thoughts. She thinks with growing shock as the group breaks up and leaves the coffee shop, it’s possible.

Strategy

She was home. 

He moved into the living room and his little electric heater. He preferred warm air. She (she claimed) liked it ‘normal’. It exasperated the hell out of him. Wasn’t like he was choosing to prefer hot. His need for heat (he’d probably never see that on a movie poster) was derived from injuries, illnesses, and diseases. Life demanded a harsh toll from him.

Hurrying to the heater, he turned it up from low to med. Then, with silent swiftness, he settled into his recliner, grabbed his book, and pretended like her arrival was a surprise.

“Oh, you’re home.”

“Yes.” She talked about things going on outside as she removed her coat. Then, as he turned away, he watched her reflection in the television screen out of the corner of his eye. Soon as she saw his back was turned, she took two long fast steps to the heater and bent over it. A soft click followed.

She bustled away as he turned back. Smiling to himself, he glanced at the heater. On low, just as he preferred.

A happy marriage sometimes required a little guile.

The Rock

“Follow me.” She took the movers into the backyard. It’d been a last minute decision but was appropriate.

A foot taller than her, they followed her out into the immaculate backyard. Winter had drained its color and autumn had jerked the leaves from the trees but a sense of comfort embraced her as she wrapped her sweater around her shoulders, glanced up at the milky sun, and limped across the grass.

A innocuous rock about a foot high and a foot wide rested in one corner in sunshine by a patch of dirt. She pointed at it. “This rock. I want this rock to go, too.”

The movers, without exchanging looks, said, “Yes, ma’am.” The three encircled the rock and studied it. She said, “I’ll leave you to it.”

Turning, she strode back into the house, casting eyes over the cottage. She and her husband had bought it twenty-one years before, ten years after they’d retired, coming up here for a more relaxed life. Then came the cat, a tiny tabby mewing on her porch as rain poured outside. The husband had died later that year. The cat, though, had lasted for twenty-one. The rock had been the cat’s favorite sitting place in the back. Sunshine always found the rock, and Pebble, named for her petite size, always found the rock.

She could leave the house – had to, really, because small as it was, it was too much for her  now – but she wouldn’t leave the rock. The cat was gone, but she’d always have the rock. And who knows? Maybe in the new place, she’d put the rock on the tiny balcony and perhaps find a new feline companion.

Or maybe it’d find her, as Pebble had.

It would be nice to have another rock in her life.

NOTE: Someone posted a photo of a mover carrying a large, unpretentious rock into an apartment. Others wondered why someone was moving a rock into an apartment.

So did I.

Recognition

Looking up from his phone screen (where he was flipping through social media) (and nothing was catching fire), thinking about what he wanted to do for lunch (and what friends might be available today), he considered the skies outside the windows. (Well, where else would skies be?)

Classes were out. He didn’t go to college (he’d graduated years ago) but somehow, most of his friends were younger than him and students, and had gone home for the holidays. He didn’t, because Mom and her boyfriend went to Mexico for the holidays, and Dad was already in Europe with his second wife and that family. His sisters each had invited him to their homes but they were their homes. He’d done that before, going to Kendra’s home for the holidays once, but he’d felt like a stranger, and didn’t want to do it again.

(Plus, of course, was the sadder part that he didn’t want to dwell on, that he and his partner of four years had broken up the day after Thanksgiving. He’d been planning the holidays with her. Most of the people outside of the young people that he knew were her friends, because he was the transplant to his valley. Not thinking about all of that made it easier to manage.)

Winter had clearly arrived in the valley. Light rain was falling but cold air was drilling through his clothing (he should’ve dressed warmer but he thought it would be a nicer day). It could snow, he thought, even though the forecast didn’t say anything about snow. Forecasts can be wrong, his father used to say, but that was back when he (and Dad) (and weather modelling) were younger. They knew a lot more about weather modelling and forecasting than they did twenty or thirty years ago.

A woman entered the coffee shop. Recognition flashing through him, he stared, unable to stop himself. She glanced his way but kept going toward a table. She looked just like Ilya. He’d worked with Ilya down in California in a past life. It’d been, what, ten years?

Wow, ten years. They’d been in relationships, so they hadn’t dated. It clearly wasn’t Ilya (because the woman didn’t recognize him) (and she was too young) but everything from the strange, fuzzy auburn hair to the athletic (but hippy) figure to her height, weight, the way she carried herself…wow, it was Ilya down to every detail.

The woman glanced his way (probably because she felt his stare’s weight).

He looked away (because he thought it rude to stare at others) (and only did that when he was drinking heavy, which he no longer did). Yet, he couldn’t help but look at her again when her back was turned. Walking across the coffee shop to the counter, it was just like watching Ilya.

His cappuccino finished and his stomach rumbling, he decided to venture into the day to find food. Passing the woman as she left the counter to go back to her table, he said with a small smile, “I’m sorry that I was staring at you.” They stopped, she with a leery glance. He said, “You just look exactly like a woman I know, except you’re about twenty years younger. But you could be her daughter.”

That would be wild, he thought, and laughed to himself. Then, he said impulsively, “You’re not Ilya’s daughter, are you?” He guffawed at his silly joke.

Her eyes widened. “No, but Ilya is my name.”

“No way. Are you serious?”

“Yes.”

“Wow. It’s just…wow. Well, you look just like my friend, Ilya. You could be her clone.”

Ilya smiled at him. “Maybe I am.”

Was it him or was something happening with them? “Are you in a relationship, Ilya?”

“Not yet,” she said. “Let me give you my number. Maybe we could get coffee.”

“I’d like that,” he answered. “I’ll give you my number, too.”

“Okay, I’d like that, too.”

Outside, afterward, he couldn’t help grinning up at the sky as flurries swirled around his head. Looks like the forecast had changed. Then, although it felt like the temperature had dropped, he took his time as he walked up the sidewalk, smiling at himself, recognizing, something had changed.

Whatever it was felt really good.

 

Friday’s Theme Music

Out of an overheard apology as I passed a couple on the street came an overused phrase, “It was just the heat of the moment.” She said it in a dry monotone.

I wondered what’d been said before. Couldn’t say from glancing at the middle-aged couple, he, neatly bearded, in jeans and a silver puffy jacket, she with short blonde hair swept across her forehead, in a tight black jacket, matching tight leggings (don’t know what they’re really called now), and purple running shoes. Sunglasses dancing with reflections hid their eyes.

Here came the old (well, half a lifetime ago (1982) – over a lifetime ago, for some) Asia song, “Heat of the Moment”.

Cue the guitars (can you tell he was with Yes?).

Friday’s Theme Music

Still raining.

Still walking in it.

Still fun — or pleasant — but a little less so than yesterday or the day before.

Smoke was rising from the hillside, leftover from the controlled burns in the watershed the other day. But I thought, yeah, maybe someone set fire to the rain.

So then I was thinking about Adele’s song, “Set Fire to the Rain” (2011), a powerful, powerful song about love, relationships, and re-birth. I (probably like many) enjoy her refrain:

But there’s a side to you that I never knew, never knew
All the things you’d say, they were never true, never true
And the games you’d play, you would always win, always win

h/t to MetroLyrics.com

That’s what you find as you go through relationships, the pieces that aren’t revealed, whose revelations (when found) fundamentally shift your thoughts (and feelings) about the other, leaving you to ask yourself (as you search), what do I do?

Sometimes you walk on, sometimes you stay, but the relationship has been changed.

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