Monday, November 27, 2006

My Father

When Measure 89, the Clean Money initiative lost a few weeks ago I called my father because he had spent the last two years putting all of himself into it, trying to get it to pass. I wanted to call him to say I was sorry, but I was afraid he would blame me for it’s failing. “Well, did YOU vote for it?” he shouted once I got him on the phone.

”Yes,” I said, a little sheepish, like a child. I wasn’t lying, but I did lie about that other thing he wanted me to do, which was to email everyone I knew about the proposition and tell them which way to vote. “Did you send it out?” he asked a bunch of times after he’d sent me the original email. “Yes,” I lied, and changed the subject. The thing is, I don’t like sending mass emails to my friends, especially if they’re political, even if they do come from my father, who is smart and on the left.

In our regular phone chats he asks me about the girls, about my husband, the house plans. Sometimes he throws a curve ball and out of the blue he’ll ask whether I ever bought that computerized bridge program for the kids that he was obsessed by a few years ago, thinking they needed to learn bridge OR ELSE. Or out of nowhere he’ll ask me whether my kids are learning Spanish or if I’ve been following MY TEAM. But since I don’t follow sports and have no idea what season it is EVER, or who MY TEAM is, I am left speechless for a moment and then I lie in no particular order, “yes, no, yes, no.” Bridge, yes, Spanish, no, MY TEAM, yes, and he laughs because he knows I’m lying and I laugh because this is how we bond; me in my half morning daze, my cowboy boots and coffee, my list of plans; the phone calls and emails, and he in his cluttered office in Los Angeles, reminding me of either a lost planet or space debris, I don’t know, but he’s up there orbiting, trying to make sense of his world, pulling all the little pieces together, just as I try to do in mine.

This morning when I called he said he was overwhelmed with so much to do and I said maybe he ought to take a break after two years of hard work on Measure 89, and he tells me that he usually naps for 30 minutes. I said “Good, rest yourself, it’s a long walk toward death,” and he laughs and I laugh. We don’t know what it means but it bonds us.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Fair Trade

“I made you come,” he said, joining me in the kitchen as I made the girls toast. “But did you make me coffee?”

“Over there, babe.”

Friday, November 03, 2006

Big Love

“It’s easy,” he said in his email, “to love our lovers. Much harder for me to love you, to lean into our love. But that,” he wrote, “is the Big Love.”

We’d been calling this creation Big Love from its inception, two years ago when we first met the ballerina and her husband, and at it’s best it is just that; big love, more love, an opportunity to express yourself past the four square walls of marriage, though we've mostly applied that to loving other people.

“Much harder,” he wrote, “for me to love you, to lean into our love.”

After 18 years together, this email from my husband who is working down the hall from me at home and who I haven’t made love to in two months, reminding me that he and I are the love you need to get naked for, more naked than you get with your lover, naked in the midst of your life.

Ours is the love that isn’t about the sexy underwear, the white lacy ones I bought for my new lover, or the garters or the short kilt I bought to wear on our next date. Ours is the love that lives in the chaos of picking up carpools and dog doo. Ours is the love that has to remind the other to get toilet paper and pay the bill. Ours is the love that sleeps night after night in a bed that needs its sheets washed.

Ours is not the phone call my husband makes to the ballerina on his way to visit her, requesting she meet him at the door wearing only heels and stockings. Or the message her husband leaves me to “just be naked when I get there.”

Not that kind of love.

It was once, sort of, a long time ago.

And while I'm tempted to start listing all the small things I’m grateful for; the way our feet find each other at the end of the bed, at the end of the day, our hands clasped, quietly breathing. While I could try to convince you that my husband and I really do love each other, a sentiment that would make you and me both feel a lot better, I won't.

Because as the man said, this is Big Love and so we’re shelving the fairy tale ending for now, we’re going off road, a path we don’t actually have a map for, but which feels more real and more appropriate for us. Destination unknown, but destination true.