Finding Life (in obvious places): Moving Day

Moving day today. Big day. I picked Julie up with the car loaded down with my three boxes and assorted other things. She came running out to meet.

“You all ready?”

“I think so.”

She looked through the back window. “Is that all?”

“Yeah. Isn’t it enough?”

“I guess so. Well, you want to come in, say hi to Mom and Dad?”

“Not really. I want to get moving, you know.”

“Okay, but give me a second, alright?”

She ran back into the house and I shut the engine off. I looked back at my stuff and thought about her parents. How they were so proud of her and nice to me and such the perfect couple themselves. Her dad smoking a pipe and wearing slippers around the house and her mom fixing big meals and not eating anything herself. The perfect couple. I never saw anything else.

Once we made it to the house, it only took an hour or so to move all my stuff in. Still, I was tired and sat down on the floor, waiting for Julie to finish arranging.

“When are you getting furniture?”

“Soon, I guess. Probably go to auctions and stuff.”

“Be sure to get a love seat. It would go perfect next to that window, facing the television.”

“What television?”

“You are going to get a television, aren’t you?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter. Now, curtains…”

“Why don’t you take a break?”

“Why?”

“Well, why don’t you join me?” I must have had some grin on my face, cause she came over smiling, trying to look all sexy.

“What did you have in mind?” she asked, brushing against my shoulder.

“Why don’t you lay down with me?”

“On the floor?”

“Would you rather go out in the yard?”

She laughed and started unbuttoning her blouse.

Then there was silence. A lot of it. Well, almost silence. No words. I don’t know.

+     +     +

She got up and put her blouse back on, and the rest of her clothes. I stayed there, looking at the ceiling and over at her.

“What are you doing?”

“Getting dressed.”

“Why?”

“Someone may stop by.”

“Who’s going to stop by?”

“You never know.”

“Come on, Julie.”

“What?”

“Come back here.”

“I will. Just give me a minute. Patience is a virtue, you know.”

“I’m not very virtuous.”

She went to the bathroom and brushed her hair. I lay there, looking at the ceiling. She came back with a big grin on her face.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Nothing.”

“Why are you smiling?”

“I’m just happy.” She lightly kissed me on the cheek.

“Well, good.  I’m glad.”

“I was thinking about…. I don’t know.”

“What?”

“About how it could be like this all the time.”

“Like what?”

“You know. Being together, all the time.”

“You mean marriage.”

“God, you make it sound like some plague or something!”

“Well, it is, sort of. Look, let’s not…”

“Let’s not what? You never want to discuss it. You know how important marriage is to me. I thought, since you got this house…”

“God damn it.”

“Nevermind. Just nevermind.”

She went into the kitchen, crying. I kept looking up at the ceiling. I noticed some brown-stained water marks that could mean a leak somewhere. After a while, I went into the kitchen. She was standing near the window, looking out.

“Julie, I’m really sorry.”

“You…”

“No, I’m really sorry. I just… well, I’m just not ready to start thinking like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like about marriage and all. I’m just not ready.”

“I know. It’s just. You don’t understand I need change too. I need something definite. Something secure. Something I can count on.”

“I know. I understand. Look, can we just wait and talk about this some other time? I mean, the house and all..”

“Okay.”

I took her home and thanked her for her help. On the way back I stopped at a used furniture store and saw this old love seat that probably would have fit in the corner, next to the window. It was too, much, though, so I bought a floor cushion instead.

Velvet Love Seat

{This is part of a larger work entitled Finding Life (in obvious places). To follow along with the story, click on the title in the tags below.}

Finding Life (in obvious places): Marriage and M&Ms

It was a usual Monday at work. Guys coming in unshaven, disheveled. Girls coming in made up, worn out underneath. Plenty of stories about how much the guys had drank and the girls had forgotten. Oh, they weren’t all like that. One guy had gotten pulled over by the cops and didn’t come in at all. Nobody made his bail.

On break, Ralph asked me how my weekend was.

“Okay.”

“You go out with that girl of yours? Julie?”

“Yeah, we went out.”

“Boy, she’s something. Bet she’s great in the sack, huh?”

I smiled and said, “Wouldn’t you like to know?”  He was eating peanut M&Ms and offered me some. “You know, I saw this house yesterday,” I said.

“Yeah?”

“It was for sale and I think I might just get it.”

“Are you and Julie thinking…”

Pages

“No, no. It’s not that. I’m just… tired of the apartment.  You know…”

“Yeah, it gets to you.”

“So, it’s a great two-story house in the old part of town.”

“Better be careful. Those things are rat traps. You sure…”

“No. This one’s great. I mean, heating costs’ll be out of this world, but…. well, I’ve got some put away.”

“Working in this place? Come on!”

“No, really. I’ve been saving up.”

“Listen, it’s your life. But I’m saying you’re better off in the apartment until you can find a wife that’ll work. That Julie works at the bank, doesn’t she?”

“I’m not marrying Julie!”

“Hey, sorry. It’s none of my business. I, just, well, I just don’t want you rushing into something. It’s tough enough, working at this place, without having a house to care for. By yourself.”

“Yeah. I know. I just, well… I need something.”

“Ain’t Julie taking care of that?” He laughed so hard he coughed up his last three M&Ms. I gave him the change to buy another package. He came back and offered me more.

“You know,” he said slowly, careful in thought, “marriage ain’t so bad as they say. I know I give my wife a hard time, but truth is I wouldn’t know what I’d do without her. She’s a great girl.”

“That’s nice.”

“No, I mean it. Before I got married, I was staying out late, coming to work all hungover. I’m a changed man, and I have her to thank.”

“Well, I don’t drink that much.”

“That’s not my point. Listen, I’m only saying this cause I’m your friend. You better hang on to that Julie. She’ll make a great wife someday.”

I shook my head.

“Just you wait. But not too long. You hear me?” He went off and started talking to a group about drinking beer.

I went back to work and thought about marriage. My grandparents. Constantly yelling and screaming at each other. Especially on Sundays, getting ready for church. Then Mom and Dad. Until Dad ran off and Mom was left with only me and my sister to yell at. That was marriage. A lot of yelling. Especially on Sundays.

Ralph got divorced about a year later. His wife caught him with his pants down parked in the driveway of her best friend. Ralph was never the same. He developed sugar diabetes and started blacking out and losing body parts, one at a time. His ex-wife felt sorry for him and married him again, took care of him until he died. She buried him with a package of peanut M&Ms.

{This is the third entry of a work of fiction called Life (in obvious places) I first wrote in 1985. To follow along with the story, click on the title in the tags below).

“It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine)” by R.E.M. in Delight in Disorder (the soundtrack)

We married and moved to a three-room row house in South St. Louis.  Steam rising from asphalt. We passionately loved and more passionately fought. Out of our conjugal clash a child was conceived.

Seeking safety, we moved to the countryside and I became shepherd of a frozen flock. We welcomed our baby home to a Noah’s Ark nursery. I turned her first week into a music video – “God’s Masterpiece.” After a week, I was spent (or thought I was) and retreated to ancient texts and tired truths.

In the disorder, there were moments of delight and we conceived again.  Our graceful pilgrim. We followed a call to a church looking for an infusion of youth.

The delight became dangerously disordered.  It was the end of the world and I was bouncing off the walls. A light fixture fell and I was convinced it was a sign from God.

The next day, I found myself in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital.

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes, an aeroplane, and Lenny Bruce is not afraid

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves its own needs, don’t misserve your own needs
Feed it up a knock, speed, grunt, no, strength
The ladder starts to clatter with a fear of height, down, height
Wire in a fire, represent the seven games
And a government for hire and a combat site
Left her, wasn’t coming in a hurry with the Furies breathing down your neck

Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh-oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do, save yourself, serve yourself
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed
Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

Six o’clock, TV hour, don’t get caught in foreign tower
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Lock him in uniform, book burning, bloodletting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a motive, step down, step down
Watch your heel crush, crush, uh-oh
This means no fear, cavalier, renegade and steering clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline

It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It’s time I had some time alone)
I feel fine (I feel fine)

It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It’s time I had some time alone)

The other night I dreamt a nice continental drift divide
Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom
You symbiotic, patriotic, slam but neck, right? Right

It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It’s time I had some time alone)

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It’s time I had some time alone)

It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It’s time I had some time alone)

It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It’s time I had some time alone)

(It’s time I had some time alone)

(“It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine)” is the ninth song on my autobiographical Spotify playlist Delight in Disorder)

“Dancing in the Minefields” by Andrew Peterson in Delight in Disorder (the soundtrack)

With all the hope of a man desperate to not be alone in life and eager to find what he’d never been looking for, I bought you a ring at a mall kiosk. I placed it in Eeyore’s lap and wrapped it up as a Christmas gift.

We set a date then set about debating all the details of navigating life together in faith, clinging to the promise we would one day be One, bonded in a holy union that would somehow keep us together and prevent us from falling apart.

At our wedding, the minister fed me vows but I was too choked up to repeat them. I was crying. Amazed at the grace that the brokenness in me might finally be mended. At the prospect that what God was joining together no one could possibly separate.

It’s been over twenty years and the promise remains true, though we are miles apart. We’re still in the minefields, waiting for our song to play.

Well I was 19, you were 21
The year we got engaged
Everyone said we were much too young
But we did it anyway
We got the rings for 40 each from a pawnshop down the road
We said our vows and took the leap now 15 years ago

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storms
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

Well “I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
‘Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storms
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
That’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear
‘Cause He promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of this chaos baby,
I can dance with you

So lets go dancing in the minefields
Lets go sailing in the storms
Oh, lets go dancing in the minefields
And kicking down the doors
Oh, lets go dancing in the minefields
And sailing in the storms
Oh, this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
That’s what the promise is for

(“Dancing in the Minefields” is the eighth song on my autobiographical Spotify playlist Delight in Disorder)

Higher Education (from Delight in Disorder)

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College was a time for experiments.

Mixing songs with sex, ideas with drugs.

The God I had come to know went up in smoke.

I replaced the living Word with words from lives

That thirsted for truths to absorb the Truth

And hungered for rights without Righteousness.

 

I wrote a book my senior year called,

Life (in obvious places)

Filled with family stories and ones I’d conceived.

At the end, a coquettish Claudia Matson asks the narrator –

“Why don’t you write any love stories?”

“I don’t know any,” he replies.

 

I took a job at a plastics factory.

And started going to a country church.

Grammar Presbyterian.

Filled with farmers and grandmothers

Who made room for me in my stained Salvation Army clothes.

Smelling of smoke, looking for a God of substance.

 

Easter Sunday, on my way to church.

I saw a grey-haired woman in a tattered coat wandering.

I pulled over and tried to help.

She didn’t know where she was and I didn’t know where to take her.

We were both lost.

 

I drove her to a downtown church.

Dressed in his Easter best, a usher gave her a donut and some coffee.

He sat with her and helped her find her way home.

I left the church in tears.

Finding strength to be weak in a community of grace.

 

I went to seminary to serve God with my mind,

Hoping my body and soul would follow.

In class we looked at the language of Scripture

And discussed how not to talk about God.

 

In my pastoral work, I found God…

… in the joy of boy who would never speak.

… in the songs of prisoners longing for freedom.

… in the tears of a man praying beside his dying wife’s bed.

 

I say I found God, but really God found me, and I didn’t run away.

 

I met Alice in the office of a friend.

She was arguing with the phone company about a deposit.

She won.

I said to myself, “I want her on my side.”

Within 6 months, we were engaged.

 

We moved to a 3-room row house in South St. Louis.

The heat was unbearable,

Steam rising from the asphalt.

We passionately loved and more passionately fought.

From this conjugal clash, a child was conceived.

 

We moved to the countryside,

And I became a pastor,

A shepherd of a frozen flock.

I preached sermons on Sunday,

And took out the trash on Tuesdays.

 

Sarah was born in early Spring.

There was a chill in the air and ice on the roads,

But we barely noticed.

We brought her home to balloons and signs

A Noah’s Ark nursery.

We made her first week a music video

with Sandy Patty singing –

You are a masterpiece
A new creation He has formed
And you’re as soft  and fresh as a snowy winter morn.
And I’m so glad that God has given you to me

After a week, I was spent (or so I thought).

I retreated to my office and didn’t come out

Even when I came home.

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The Language of Relationships: A Blog Hop Story

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Bruce: “Here’s a nice bench.  Let’s sit here.”

Carl: “What a gorgeous November day this is.” 

Bruce: “It sure is. So peaceful.  So calm.”

Carl: “What’s for lunch today?”

Bruce: “I have pastrami on rye.”

Carl: “Ah!  With hot mustard?”

Bruce: “Mayo.”

Carl: “Mayo?  Who puts mayo on pastrami and rye?”

Bruce: “My wife does. She puts mayo on everything. It’s sort of a thing with her.”

Carl: “Why don’t you say something to her? Or make your own sandwiches?”

Bruce: “I don’t want to take that away from her.  She thinks she’s being helpful. God love her.”

Carl: “She’s a sweet lady. But you shouldn’t treat her so delicately. Let her grow up.”

Bruce: “Since when did you become a relationship expert?”

Carl: “My third wife was a marriage therapist. She taught me a lot.”

Bruce: “Hey, Dr. Phil, how about helping me move that log over for a stool?”

Carl: “Sure.”

Setting down their lunches, they roll a large log over beside the bench.

Carl: “So Alexandra, my third wife, the therapist, used to say, ‘A woman is a vowel. A man is a consonant.  A woman can stand alone, but together with a man can express more meaning.”

Bruce: “Wow.  That’s profound.  Whatever happened to Alexandra?”

Carl: “She ran off with a mime.”

Bruce: “Oh, sorry for that.”

Carl: “Yeah, it was tough for awhile.  Until I met Samantha. Sam is the long ‘e’ to go with my ‘m’.  She fits me perfectly.”

Bruce: “Boy, you could write greeting cards.  You know that?”

Carl: “Thanks. So how’s the pastrami?”

Bruce: “I’ve had better.”

Carl: “Even with mayo?”

Bruce: “No. The mayo pretty much ruins it. You want the rest?”

Carl: “No thank you. I’ll stick with my ham and swiss.”

Bruce: ”Unlike your wives.”

Carl: (laughs)  Hey, I resemble that remark.  No, I don’t see how you do it.  How long have you and Joanna been married?

Bruce: 23 years this October.

Carl: Boy.  23 years. What’s your secret?

Bruce: Avoidance, mostly.  Things are better left unsaid.

Carl:  Like the mayo?

Bruce: (laughs) Exactly.

An alarm sounds.

Carl: Well, time to head back to the spaceship.

Bruce: Yeah, we don’t want them to send out a search party.

Carl: No. Hey, whatever happened to that Lewis fellow that was always late coming in for lunch.

Bruce: They vaporized him.

Carl: Oh.

Bruce: Hey, that reminds me of your ex-wife with the mime –  a long “o” with a silent “h.”

Carl:  Ah.  That, too.

(This story is part of the Blog Hop found at Writings and Ruminations. Photo courtesy Leanne Sype)

Ayn Rand, Hallucinations, Criminalization, and Marriage Challenge: Mental Health Monday

It’s that time again … Mental Health Monday.  I’m happy to say I found a wide range of quality posts without having to spend much time searching.  This week, our posts cover modern political philosophy,  changing religious attitudes, the challenge of being vulnerable, the profile of psychotic hallucinations, the criminalization of those with mental illness, the costs and benefits of more medicine, and the challenges of marriage relationships with a mental illness.

To find these informative and inspiring posts, click on the title link below —

“Ayn Rand, Hallucinations, Criminalization, and Marriage Challenges: Mental Health Monday

mental illness photo: Mental Illness Awareness Poster MentalIllnessStigma.jpg

Being a Writer or Becoming a Wife: Reflections from a Young Sylvia Plath

At age 19, Sylvia Plath had gone from being an awkward, painfully shy girl to a sexually confident young woman.  As she prepares for one of her many dates, she reflects on her image and identity.

In the mirror, undressing, I look at the rather impish and mobile face that grins back at me, thinking: oh, growing to be a woman, to learn the art of subtle power!  As long as men have ideals, as long as they are vulnerable, there is the power to create a dream for them.

Plath did not rest easy in such power.  She saw the complexities of the relationship between men and women and feared what power she might lose were she to pursue marriage (the only perceived “safe” arrangement for coupling at the time).  Nonetheless, she found herself driven to men by a strong sexual urge she calls “refined hedonism”.

Victimized by sex is the human race.  Animals, the fortunate lower beasts, go into heat.  Then, they are through with the thing, while we poor lustful humans, caged by mores, chained by circumstance, writhe and agonize with the appalling and demanding fire licking always at our loins.

This creates a dilemma for Plath.  As she considers her relationship with “Dick”, a pre-med student, she ponders difficult questions.  Would she pursue her writing or become a wife?  Could she do both?

The fact remains that writing is a way of life to me… Would I be forced to give it up, cut it off?  Undoubtedly, as the wife of such a medical man as he would like to be, I would have to.  I do not believe, as he and his friends would seem to, that artistic creativity can best be indulged in masterful singleness rather than in marital cooperation.  I think that a workable union should heighten the potentialities in both individuals.

This “marital cooperation” was not to be found with Dick, who interprets Plath’s assertiveness as a desire to dominate.  She finds others and maintains hope in some “workable union” as she enjoys various romantic relationships.  The idea of being both a wife and a writer remains an ideal.

… would marriage sap my creative energy and annihilate my desire for written and pictorial expression which increases with this depth of unsatisfied emotion… or would I achieve a fuller expression in art as well as in the creation of children?  Am I strong enough to do both well?

Yet, in quieter moments, as she reflects on her passion for poetry and poetic prose, she wonders if she would ever be willing to make sacrifices necessary for marriage.

And when I read, God, when I read the taut, spare, lucid prose of Louis Untermeyer, and the distilled intensities of poet after poet, I feel stifled, weak, pallid; mealy mouthed and utterly absurd.  Some pale, hueless flicker of sensitivity is in me.  God, must I lose it in cooking scrambled eggs for a man.

Quotes from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. 

For more reflections, see –

Beauty Out of Sorrow

Ricocheting Madly In-Between

The Grimness of Atheism

Luxuriating in the Feel of Words

(photo of Sylvia Plath from Caitlin in To Read)

Built to Last (inspired by John Prine’s “One Red Rose”)

Our Cabin by Rick Scully

The rain came down on the tin roof, creating a soft white noise that Lydia found soothing.

“That roof is built to last.”  said her Grandfather long ago and again and again in her childhood

Each time it rained.

“Not everything is built to last.  But that roof will outlive me.”

It rained the day of his funeral and the tin roof held.

Shielding them from the sorrow of their loss.

#     #     #

“Did you remember to give Phoebe her umbrella?” Lydia asked.

“No.  I thought you did.” replied Donald.

Lydia sighed, weary of words that went no where.

Her parents had given Donald and Lydia a week’s retreat at the family cabin,

An anniversary gift to the two of them,

And a birthday present to Phoebe, who shared the day with them.

They hoped it might help.

“It’s the least we can do,” they said.

#     #     #

“Why don’t we go to bed early and save clean up for tomorrow?” suggested Donald.

Lydia was too tired to protest.

She took one last look around the room.

Dirty paper plates.

Crumpled paper streamers.

Half-hanging cardboard sign.

She walked away, leaving the kitchen light on.

#     #     #

As Lydia walked to the bedroom, her eyes fell on the family Bible.

She opened it up and found the rose pressed between the pages.

She heard her Grandmother’s voice from the day Lydia shared the news of her engagement.

“Marriage is hard work,” said her Grandmother.

“I want you to have this.”

She gave Lydia the Bible.

“This is the holy alphabet for your marriage.”

She opened it up to a rose.

“Your grandfather gave me this rose on our wedding day.”

She closed the book and handed it to Lydia.

“I want you to keep this.”

#     #     #

Now, her grandmother was gone.

Lydia closed the Bible on the rose.

Some of its remains fell to the floor.

Some things just aren’t built to last.

This poem first appeared as a blog post on January 3, 2013.  It was republished in thematticuskingdom on March 26.  You can hear John Prine sing “One Red Rose” – here.

(photo: “Our Cabin” from Rick Scully, some rights reserved)

Dear Dr. Love, You Should Change Your Name: “P.S.” by Jill McCorkle

Cezanne

“P.S.” has all the elements of a disgruntled Freudian romance (minus the sex).

It is written as a letter from “Hannah from three suburbs over” to her former marriage therapist – “Dr. Love”.  She bemoans the way she appeared after sessions “like s–t on a stick”.  She blames religion for the break-up of her marriage – “I think that marriage vows should include an escape clause that says the contract is broken if one party ups and makes a big switch in religion…”.  She regrets her investment in therapy – “I wish I could get all that money back from you.” Hannah has decided to move on – beyond therapy, beyond marriage, beyond religion.  She now realizes –

I am someone who does believe in the higher power of necessary medication.  Amen.  At times, a smidgen of this or that is just what you need.  I loved the feel of Demerol when I was in labor, and I don’t know what I would have done without that epidural — scream out lots of terrible things, I suspect, which I did anyway… And I believe in spiritual highs, too.  What I don’t believe in is someone having the power to dictate someone else’s spirituality or aesthetic code.

Hannah’s husband Jerry was not “born-again” when they married.  He was a Mensa nerd who worked at a Toyota dealership and solved Rubik’s cube.

But being normal wasn’t enough for Jerry, he had to always be into this or that.  He always had a new hobby, and he’d go at it full tilt for a few months and then move onto another interest.

From Sudoku to pottery, model trains to beer making to a kind of tag wrestling” Hannah refers to as “homoerotic dance”. Hannah goes on in her letter to speculate about what mental and emotional problems led Dr. Love to pursue the field of psychology.  She advises him not to charge her for the time spent reading her letters – “like that lawyer keeps doing every time I e-mail or call him back to answer a question he asked me.”  She wonders what his life is like at home, with his wife, after a day spent listening to other people’s marriage problems –

“She looks a bit older than you, and so I did wonder (when I saw the photo on your dresser) if she had had a husband before you and how you had adjusted to that or if you all have some different kind of marriage like a mentor/mentee, or mother and child.”

She recalls her “big confession” – having sex with the plumber – and admits it never really happened, that she had made it up as an interesting story because she was bored.

No, my biggest betrayal to Jerry is that I quit trying.  When I finally found my own voice, I realized I had nothing else I wanted to say to him.  I stopped talking, nothing feeding nothing until  nothing was huge and nothing begot nothing.  Feeling nothing is not good, but it’s where a lot of people stop and stay.  The nothingness is so delusional and numbing.

As a contemporary reader, I ache with the realization that Hannah is right – in so many relationships finding your own voice often leads to disruption. As a man who is separated from my wife, I feel convicted by her observation that a lot of people (like me) stop and stay with nothingness. As a person of faith, however, I find hope in these sacred words –

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  (Genesis 1:2)

The Spirit of God moves, even in the void.  Out of nothingness, comes new life.

“P.S.” was first published in The Atlantic. It can be found within Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle.

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