Thursday, May 04, 2006

In the Inbetween

As happy as I am with J~, I'm still overcome by grief, at times, over all the years with A~. The depth of my love and commitment to him is not easily thrown aside. All that history, that visceral physical connection - his body, his scent, the way we entwined in sleep, turning simultaneously midway through the night...

But then there is this new man, so in love with me, and I with him, this home, ripe for an artist's touch, this new and extremely fertile soil. It isn't easy, carving a place for myself in a new life, but it's great fun, and exciting, and I'm just as often overcome by appreciation. (I wept for an hour yesterday, because J~ is taking the day off to care for me when I have some relatively minor but still scary dental surgery, something I never asked of him, and never would have received without asking, and feeling guilty and frivolous for doing so, with A~.)

I arrived at J~'s house last night and am writing this morning on my laptop at the very man-and-his-boy kitchen table, amid comic books, toast crumbs and sticky jelly patches, a sprinkling of salt, an empty water bottle, a smattering of baseball cards, paper towels on a dwindling roll, a summer camp flyer, a Xeroxed announcement from school ("All School Festival of the Arts on Thursday, June 1"), and the latest but already oil-stained New Yorker magazine. The table cloth is a yellowed plaid, and plastic-coated.

I love every bit of it.

There is also a Mother's Day card, fashioned from construction paper and pencil and glue, with hearts drawn in a wet, wobbly, heartbreakingly red marker. When I first noticed it, I felt a pang of mixed emotion, reminded that B~'s mom wants him to live with her, which is a positive sentiment, given her recent unreliableness and seeming ambivalence about parenting. But still, it's nervous-making, and maybe not such a great idea. Not to mention that neither J~ nor I savor the idea of B~ gone (not for more than a few days here and there, anyway.)

As much as I'm glad to see B~ feeling a revival of affection for his mother, I'm also sad wondering if I'll ever be lucky enough to have a child of my own, to be at the receiving end of such a prize.

Feeling vaguely like a snoop, I opened the card. In the same shaky red ink, it reads, "Dear Mom, Congrats! You are the #1 mom ever! Even if you embarress [sic] me a lot. Amy and I burned a CD that I think you would like. I'll bring it next time I come. Keep on truckin, B~."

I felt another mixed-emotion pang at the mention of me: a surge of appreciation for this subtle acknowledgment that I am mattering to B~, and also a vicarious cringe for his mother. It must not be easy for her, having me occupy this place in her son's day to day life, this place at the kitchen table that used to be hers, this place in her Mother's Day card. I don't feel guilty about it, I'm not The Other Woman; I'm no usurper. She chose to leave and does not regret it.

Still, it can't be easy.

But not worth dwelling on either.

Though I won't officially move in until September first, I plan to be here several days each week until then, more especially for the next month or so, until my teaching schedule kicks in for the summer. Today's visit will be the longest stretch of consecutive time I've ever spent in this house: five nights. I plan to put the time to good use. Besides work I brought along with me, I'll be digging in the soon-to-be garden, cleaning the soon-to-be clutter-free basement, and organizing the spare room, my soon-to-be office.

There may always be sadness about the past, but also gems of memory I will pluck from the wreckage, and an ultimate appreciation for the whole mess. After all, whatever rockiness occurred along that old road, it's the path that got me to right here and now. And there's no place I'd rather be.

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