The Long View

October 8th, 2013

web beach clouds

When I can get some perspective on my life (and how often are we really able to do that?), I realize that the thing most missing from it was a lasting relationship. The kind that you grow into and that grows to fit you but at the same time enlarges your world. Given the high divorce rate in our country, I realize that is sometimes a matter of luck, but still I have missed it. I’ve had relationships of high drama, love at first sight, heart-pounding passion, idiotic infatuation and my own sad divorce story. But it’s the domestic story I’ve lived without. The one where you have private jokes, middle of the night comfort, a shared dinner table, longevity and loyalty and dogged love. The one that persists even through the times you hate the one you love, find their habits irritating, their political beliefs ridiculous, and their taste in music barely bearable. I suppose there are many reasons I didn’t choose that or it didn’t choose me, but I’ve always felt a squirmy, unvoiced shame that somehow I’ve been inadequate, not up to the task, not meant for marriage and just plain less-than. Logically (since when is love ever logical?) I realize that many people go through life without ever experiencing this, but in down times, I’ve still felt it’s my fault and that it makes me a person of less depth or dimension. During one of those hair-shirt spells, I add to the proof that I’m lacking as a person the fact that I don’t really like volunteer work, I can’t cook, everything I plant dies and visiting hospitals puts me into a panic. That tiny plane in this photo might as well be pulling a banner through my life that reads “Nikki, You Suck!” But when I come to my senses and stop beating my own brains out, I understand that most of us go through life with a secret shame that will never be fully healed or a feeling of vulnerability in some part of their soul or just the simple realization that we rarely get everything we want. For today, I have big stacked-up thunder clouds over the harbor, a bottle of Malbec and a bowl of vegetable soup, John Travolta singing “Sandy,” an itch to try making a collage, and the finale of Orange is the New Black waiting to be watched in bed. Hi Nikki, my name is Nikki and I’d like to spend some time with you.


3 Responses to “The Long View”

  1. V-Grrrl says:

    Those of us who have spent decades with one partner sometimes wonder if our long marriages are victories or defeats. In good times you marvel over the family and life you’ve created together; in dark moments, you wonder if you have given away too much of in the process.

  2. lucinda says:

    Nikki, as is so often the case, your words are soul balm.

  3. Lucinda says:

    You aced it. My favorite part begins “…I have stacked-up thunderclouds. . . .”

    My grandmother’s husband was admitted to a hospital when she was barely 30, and he died there. She didn’t remarry, lived to be 99. I would see her looking into the middle distance sometimes and ask what she was thinking. Usually she’d beam at me and say, “Just meditating on my well-spent life.”

    One of the secrets of her long life and self-concocted contentment was, in her own words: “I rather enjoy my own company.” I second that!

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