The book on her floor was written by a man who lives in the same building I sat in. On Grandma’s couch I read about his life….flying the Berlin Air Lift, living through the Great Depression, helping his parent’s buy their first home from the 5 penny shoeshine box proceeds that he began working before he was 10. The thing that caught my interest the most though, was the dedication. It was dedicated to his three wives. He was never divorced, he just had longevity and better health. His first marriage lasted more than 20. His second, more than thirty. His third was technically not his wife. He referred to her as a soul mate, as a beloved kindred spirit whom he was fortunate to have met so late in life and especially after surviving two partner’s whom he surely did not ever wish to outlive. Somewhere, perhaps in the room below me, they were busy making lunch, in the condo of this retirement home, smiling…watching a black and white on TV Land.
I was with my wife from 1992-2008. By today’s standards…a very long marriage indeed. Sometimes I will be going along with life and, like today, I will be looking around wondering what is missing. A strange thing about being in love with life…is how it can somehow make you forget and normalize what you have been through…for me it can make me forget where the sadness comes from or that it is there. I am on vacation with my family right now. Visiting Florida for my Grandma’s 100th birthday party. I am here with the kids. My brother talks on the phone with his partner. My Mom and Dad I just ate dinner with. I am here in the hotel room with the kids. And when I look around for where the sadness is coming from I actually have to look. I think “I had a lovely day. I played in the ocean with my Dad and son. I got to hang out with my 99 year old Grandma and she cracked jokes even. The beachfront hotel room is awesome. I am alive. Nothing is missing here.” But something in me notices. It tracks all the time. Even as I seem to be releasing a desire for partnership more everyday…part of me was noticing that out of all the adults here, I am single. How strange. Single? That sounds funny. A new phrase may make more sense. ”I raise these kids by myself” That makes more sense. Here at the hotel, I don’t see any other kids walking around with an unmarried parent. Those ring fingers have no vacancies.
What I am trying to elucidate isn’t that I long for a partner. Because really, that is shifting. Right now, I don’t want that any longer. I do love life like this. What I am trying to describe is this elusive feeling that occurs when you are reminded that you are living a life that is 100% different than what you desired. You go along happily. You and your kids are doing wonderfully. And then the wake up call…”oh wow…I raise my kids alone…my best friend of 16 years and mother of my children and I are not even friends…I have been in two intense and deeply close partnerships that also ended since then….after all that I still live without a partner.”
And I still wonder where the sadness comes from sometimes? Nothing about this is normal. ”Normal” though, is only a word that describes what I prayed for and wanted. ”Normal” is a word that describes a past tense dream. But perfection is funny how it becomes normal.
I wonder if someday someone will read my autobiography. Who will the dedication be to? I was so certain my whole life that it would be written to one woman who I would share my whole life with. Honestly, if it had to be written today, it would be dedicated to that which allowed me to survive the losses I have been through. It would be to Love itself and how I didn’t have the kind of path that focused on love experienced primarily through partnership. It would be instead to how grateful I was that I experienced Love through everything and everyone. Does it have to be one way…or the other? So far, for me…yes.
We are 200 feet from the water’s edge with a beachfront porch that I am sleeping on. It is beautiful. Onshore breeze and so warm that I just lay down on top of the blanket.
It is funny how much I don’t argue with my feelings. If there is sadness I don’t argue. If there is happiness I don’t argue. I guess all I am writing about is that I enjoy being alive so much, that I forget what I have been through…and that it does like to have a voice and make its story known from time to time.
And this brings me back to the pilot with three wives. He didn’t argue with life. He strongly stated in his book how much life went in directions that he never would have chosen. Sometimes he was up, sometimes he was way way down. He lived. He breathed. He didn’t do it wrong or right. He was here. He still is.
That is about it. I am going to go see about getting my kids to bed. No one else is going to do it. Because I am the only parent here…all week long…every other week. And that is heartbreaking. And I totally love it being just the three of us. Believe me, life has room for both truths at the same time.
Tomorrow, my G’ma’s 100th birthday party. Way to go Grandma!