September 19, 2009

One game at a time

D. makes me think about baseball. In particular about Albert Pujols.

“Pujols … really does take 'em one game at a time, one at-bat at a time, one pitch at a time… . Questions are beside the point. Talk is beside the point. The point for Albert Pujols is to hit the ball hard. Everything else is just noise.

“This doesn’t make him especially fun to approach after a game, even a two-home run game. But it’s part of what makes him the best baseball player on earth. And it’s what makes him likely to have many more two-homer games, even if he isn’t a home run hitter.” http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/joe_posnanski/09/16/albert.pujols

With D.: no answers to questions. Silence.

D. makes me think, too, of the movie Juno: Two years ago, an awful dinner-movie date with this man I used to call my husband: He was anything but a “husband.” He hadn’t made love to me willingly anyway in so many years I could calculate the time in terms of a decade, a wall of time, a block so large that it stood in the way of vision, my recollection of the past. I have talked about this too much here. I now know I am a fool for having done so. Fools repeat their mistakes—except in Shakespeare’s plays where the fool speaks wisdom: In Lear, the fool wisely says:

He that has and a tiny little wit—
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain—
Must make content with his fortunes fit,
For the rain it raineth every day.


But that night, I was thinking about the fact of lack of sex as the source of all my trouble, fool without wisdom that I was. I drank myself through the dinner after the movie. I drank my way through D.’s silence.

And this brings me to the movie Juno. Juno is a sweet flick about a sixteen-year-old who makes love once with her boyfriend, her initiation into sex with only the motive of love, and she gets pregnant. She decides to have the baby and give it away to a couple that really wants a baby. She says she’s ill-equipped to raise a baby. She is a wise, sharp-tongued, witty and oddly sweet character. Sweet in her sharpness. And at the end, when she’s had the baby, her boyfriend comes to the hospital in his running clothes and gets in the bed and lies down and holds her. I watched the movie with D. and my heart broke at this image, because this is the way he used to lie down at night with me. We didn’t make love—no home run to continue the metaphor—but we did lie down together, body on body.

The Sunday after the date was difficult: My chest full of anxiety that raged so hard I couldn’t eat, and my head, hungover. I didn’t have the energy to shower. My teaching work was done and still I couldn’t eat. I began work on the separation agreement again. I had a vodka and tonic. The anxiety subsided, hunger appeared. I ate a frozen pizza and cooked some asparagus. My kitchen and my body were low on food.

I had finally gotten the pot rack hung in my apartment, the same pot rack I’d had in our house. I’d finally gotten all the copper and stainless steel pots hung. I’d polished the copper. Even though I did not have the energy to cook, I was ready to cook.

I slept but woke at 2 a.m. from a terror: My kitchen. In the dream my son came to visit—my son who has not spoken to D. since D. left me. He swiftly took down all the pots. The pot rack wasn’t there. Just some hooks in the ceiling. He had cleaned up what he viewed as my mess. I called out: Where are they, where are my pots and pans? Where is my Bain Marie, my French copper and enamel double boiler that I used to melt chocolate, that I scrambled eggs in, that I loved. I find instead dolls and children’s clown costumes. I’d made these costumes for my daughter and son when they were little. I’d made one for myself too. I’d made one for D. after my first husband had betrayed me. But in the dream the only costume I can find is the one I’d made for myself—the pink gingham one.

For the fool does need the costume.

When I am awake, this costume is the only one that is lost. I have all the others in a box in a closet that D. built for me this year—after the separation agreement was finally done. After it was clear that we would live apart, that we are done.

After all that, he gave me money to build out the closets in my 1200 square foot loft with virtually no storage. The loft where I am making a life—alone: where I make content with my fortunes fit.

He did this after he’d come over to drop off miss-delivered mail—an excuse? He could have forwarded the mail. He gave money for the closets after he found me throwing out the clown costumes, the sweaters my mother had made for my children, the dress she’d made for me in 6th grade, after he found me in tears, throwing away what I could not store.

Now all is stored away in my California-Closet-re-done apartment where I live alone.

And then he sent an e-mail. The subject line was: “I know this is against the rules but …

Would you like to go to the Nationals baseball game Thursday night? They're playing the Cardinals. Really good seats. Red, Hot and Blue barbeque. Or Ben’s Chili Bowl.”

I didn’t go to the game where I would have seen Albert Pujols at bat.

I said I couldn’t go because we were done, because I needed to move on, because I couldn’t bear the silence.

And then he spoke. He wrote:

“M.,

I do love you and always have. I have in the past only known how to show love through care-taking. I never learned any other way. But that is no longer enough. I know I need to show it in other ways, most especially through emotional intimacy. I can tell you I love you, but it sounds hollow because there is, right now, no other action behind it. I know that is how it appears, so it is hard for me to say it to you. I just know my feelings are deep, and it is not just history, important as that is. I have always thought and said that I believe we will end up together. I still believe that. But I know it is very hard for you. I don't want to lose you, but I also don't want to hurt you again. That is how I am torn. It is hard; it is painful. I hope and pray that it will work out. I just want you to know that I do love you and care deeply for you.

D.”

All this makes me think of Albert Pujols. He avoids reporters. When he does talk to them, he doesn’t answer their questions. He just keeps going to bat.

All this makes me think of the movie Juno: When all goes wrong, how to set things right?

And I answer: One at-bat at a time.

Once D. asked me, What do you call a player who strikes out two out of three times?

He answered: A hall of famer.