April 04, 2011

Manhattan Photo Shoot: More on New Orleans and more Qs ?????

It’s a week before the shoot in Manhattan and the q’s continue while D. and I are desperately seeking a big easy. 
Buffa's where the locals play and eat Sunday brunch

Stephanie Booth, the author of the Real Simple article continues to press: stuff that’s not in the memoir (Re)Making Love, but stuff that hangs at sea without that story. Here’s another glimpse:

Stephanie’s interview with D. and stuff I never knew:

Q: Why did you feel you had missed out on “single living?” For instance, did you marry your first wife straight out of college?

D.: I really never had much single living. I got married the first time after my first year of college. I had a couple of years of single life when that marriage ended, and then Mary and I started our relationship. I thought I had missed out on single life – and largely I had – but I discovered through the separation that I had more importantly missed out on understanding myself, how I came to this point, what I could or should change, and what should not change. When we separated, I found that right from the start, I was not focusing on what you would list as the typical aspects of “single life.” I was intensely focused on a more personal discovery.

Q: When your lawyer kept reminding you the separation papers were ready to be signed, what excuse did you give for not doing so? (Or did you just not return phone calls/emails?)

D.: Actually, instead of just wrapping up the negotiations, Mary and I kept negotiating smaller and smaller details. They seemed important at the time. My lawyer and I talked a lot. He would do his job and advise me of what to negotiate and how to protect my interests. I would tell him that I was quite sure Mary and I would end up back together—if she did not find Mr. Wonderful in the meantime. That was my big risk. (Actually, that was more grist for discussion with my shrink than my lawyer.) Anyway, my lawyer said many times throughout the process, “This is the most unusual separation I’ve ever seen.”

Q: What details can you share about surprising Mary in Paris? What did you say when she opened the door? Did you have anything with you (or in your hand at the time?) What was the building like she was staying in? What time of day was it? (Any details would be great.)

D.: I took the overnight flight to Paris and landed at 6 a.m. in rainy, dark weather. By the time I got downtown, about 7 a.m., the rain had stopped and the sky started to lighten up. I found her apartment door – a typical, nondescript wooden door along one of those great Paris neighborhood streets of small old apartments and bright new shops. I rang for her, and she let me in. Pulling my suitcase, I walked down a short dark hallway that opened onto a small courtyard surrounded by the four floors of apartments. She appeared in a hallway window on the top floor, dressed all in white nightgown and robe. To me, she was shining. All I could do was smile up at her. I think I said something utterly romantic and charming, like “Uh, hello.”

Q: Were the problems in your marriage because of your anger? Or did the problems simply exacerbate your temper? (If the latter, can you describe?)

D.: My anger was a symptom. I spent a lot of time alone reading and talking with my therapist to get at the underlying issues. In the marriage, I might get upset at something external or at Mary, but it didn’t really matter which. She just had a hard time experiencing the anger. She’s a gentle person, and anger or incivility is very difficult for her. That was the problem the anger caused in our relationship. But the anger didn’t come from the relationship. It came from me, and the understanding had to come from me.

Q: Correct that you hadn’t tried therapy (separate or as a couple) before you and Mary separated?


Q: Was the focus of your therapy anger management?

D.: No, not at all. I realized it was a symptom (I hadn’t always seen it that way) and was more interested in understanding the journey that got me to that point. As I got at the underlying issues, the anger sort of melted away.

Q: Can you give an example of how you keep your anger in check now? What's one thing that used to set you off, which no longer does? (Or not as much?)

D.: At first, I did do some conscious things, like get in the longest line at the supermarket and just chill, instead of fuming at how people could be so slow, especially when I was in a hurry. I always seemed to be in a hurry. But as I gained understanding through the therapy, I didn’t have to consciously do anything about the anger anymore. It just wasn’t there, right at the surface. These days, I enjoy the supermarket. Years ago, our daughter described my trips as “speed shopping.” Now, no one in my family wants to go there with me because I stroll the aisles and take too long.

This is the man I didn’t know I while wrote my own journey:

My journey and the memoir that chronicles it struggles with this question: How to keep the door open—or the window—when a marriage has broken: I answer with the word transom:

A transom is a strengthening cross bar set above a window or a door. I was looking for a crossbar to give me strength. A mullion is the vertical bar between the panes of glass. Do mullions and transoms form the pattern of a window, a window on what is next?

And when I looked out that window:

I saw a woman at a house by the sea, a loose white dress, and the breeze across her face. I saw a grassy plot where tea and wine and wind will begin the story.

One of the locals dances and then so do we!
And I find a big easy in New Orleans and in D.