May 23, 2009

Something old for something new

When the groom stomps on the glass, some say, he recalls the destruction of the temple or announces the creation of two bodies, one mind.

Something blue, something borrowed, something old for something new.

The loss of a marriage is the loss of habeas corpus: When the two parties decide to separate, one of them pleads with the other for a writ of habeas corpus. One of them must believe, or both perhaps, that he is imprisoned and unfairly so. He asks his warden to justify his incarceration. I am no longer sure who was asking whom in my marriage. But I am sure that what had been created was annihilated.

And then I met the psychiatrist. After two weeks, the psychiatrist wants my passwords to my computer and e-mail. The psychiatrist wants my schedule. He prepares a paper with every day of the week and the hours during the day. He asks me to fill it in. I do not.

He uses pale orange nylon fishing string to hang his glasses on his neck. I admire this clever elegant solution to a difficult problem. He burns the knot on the end of string for each stem of my reading glasses.

I think: fisherman’s blood knot.

He measures my wrist and ring finger while I sleep. He burns a knot for the string he places on my wrist. I refuse to wear the string ring. He burns the knot for the string on his wrist and for the string he places on his left hand, ring finger.

He tells me we will marry on March 21, 2009.

I sleep and dream: In the dream, the man I am married to has canceled my Amex Card and was able to because I didn’t know he had control of the account. I didn’t know it was his account. How could that be? I pay the bills. Mine is the only name on the account. So I called and was told I had to meet a person in-person to fix this. I got in a cab and asked, “Do you know where an AmEx office is?” And the cab driver took me. A homely woman, pale in skin, dark in hair but with the pallor of someone who rarely goes outside, the pallor of someone who works on the phone all the time, who does things that hurt others, the pallor of a person who knows that she does such work and who hates it but does it anyway, the pallor of resignation, says, “Yes, the card is canceled. Your husband canceled it.” I said, “Reinstate my card.” She said, instead of “no,” “Your husband doesn’t like questions, he doesn’t like to be questioned.”

The psychiatrist does not treat patients. He decides who shall stay in hospital and who shall not: Insurance work. Other doctors call him to ask who shall be covered and who shall not, who shall stay and who shall go.

We met March 21, 2008.

On April 21, 2008: Emergency egress: (not in order; order, not possible): I had to have a locksmith, H&H Locksmith to change the lock on my condo. Heaven and Hell? He became so angry Monday afternoon in Boston where we’d gone to meet my daughter and son-in-law that he gunned the rented convertible whose top he never took down, gunned it out and into the circular driveway four times, maybe five, once with my luggage and the other times without until finally he drove away gunning that gas pedal harder than all the other times and with me finally safe in a taxi I had called with a North End Italian hairdresser-as-part-time cabby who threw my luggage into her trunk, told me to get in, power locked the doors and drove me to Logan airport. The shrink had my ticket.

It costs $500 to fly on the same day from Logan to Reagan.

He was angry because I would not tell him what my daughter had said after the four of us had had lunch in The Charles Hotel: wonderful buffet. Concern about the string. Her sense that I am in danger.

He records our last phone call, transcribes it and e-mails it to me. I cannot know if it is totally accurate. Here is the e-mail:

I cannot be with you. My conclusion is that we cannot be together.
[I am not convinced that I subscribe to that.]
Don’t chase me…you deserve more dignity than that.
[You have a deep friend here and if you recalculate your conclusion I want you to let me know that]
Your generosity and your woundedness …
[my hurts that I carry with me. It was my inability to find out what you thought or what you were feeling after your phone call with Sarah that drove me frantic.]
Sarah is not what needs more healing.
[You have been generous enough to tell me that you’re all mixed up. So am I in my own way].
You deserve someone better. Someone better will come along for you. You are a deeply caring man.
[God damn you. You finally made me reject you, or fail you.]
I don’t feel rejected. I’m not made to be able to deal with how you were, acted yesterday.
[It doesn’t matter how I ended it, I finally failed one of your tests.]
Logistics (We discuss the transfer of items in my apartment and his. We each are to leave them in the lobby of my condo. I have thrown away his toothbrush and a penile ring).
[I’m shocked that you would throw away anything of mine]
I’m so sorry for that.
[I will end this conversation by saying that you are the dearest person to me]

We were not done.

He takes a class I taught at The Smithsonian for four Saturdays in the month of May. He would be on the bench outside when I arrived thirty minutes early to be “miked,” to set up slides. He did not speak. He did not do the assignments. He did not open his book.

On July 28, my father’s birthday, he sends an e-mail with no message. A word doc is attached: The correct title of the poem he sent is “When You Are Old” and the word “crown” in the last line should be “crowd.” I did not reply:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep
by W. B. Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty, with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim’s soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down below the glowing bars,
Murmur, little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crown of stars.

He appears outside at the Metro Center stop near my condo twice in September at the very time I arrive to take the line to GWU where I teach.

He attends my book club on two Tuesdays at Teaism in October. On the first, I am alarmed; on the second D., the man I used to call my husband, accompanies me.

I receive via e-mail his US Air Dividend Miles statements through December 2008.
The last one: His Dividend Miles # I shall omit here:

Beginning balance 2,208
Miles deposited this period 684
Miles debited this period 0
Ending balance 2,892

Finally, nothing.

Headline, The New York Times, May 28, 2009: To Protect Ancient City, China Plans to Raze it: The city is Kashgar with 13,000 families. Fear of an earthquake is the official reason given.

On this oasis on the Old Silk Road, The Times runs a black and white photo on the jump: Young girl on cobbled walled alley, in dance position, trousers covered by translucent dress, tied at the waist in back, the skirt swept in the triangle of movement, her scarf in mirrored swirl, her thin body balanced on athletic-shoed toes.

T.S. Eliot says,

… Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

Let me be clear: My husband was the earthquake. We were the body-balanced and we razed it.

The houses are all gone under the sea.

The dancers are all gone under the hill.


  1. Fishing line - to catch fish - to fillet or momentarily suffocate and release, just for the rush.

  2. It is to no one's suprise that the psychiatrist is the crazy one. Why is that? Like the fundamentalist-born-again-christian-preacher stealing your money, or the extreme pro-lifer shoting people.


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