Monday, December 26, 2011

Hello sweetheart, it's 7:30 in the morning, the light dim and gray. I don't hear cardinals tutoyering, not yet. Starting to wake up with a cup of coffee. Something smells good. D says it's the ham from the party that he's just had for breakfast. I'll have a bit later too, with cheddar biscuits I made yesterday.

Dearest (and dearest 1.0 too), I'm sorry I didn't post last night. We got home late, after nine, and I was just exhausted and my emotions felt all roiled. It was one of those visits, for me, that give holidays the reputation for being difficult. On the way down I was still holding out the hope that you might be there. I was happy to see them, but those feelings unfortunately were greatly overridden by my disappointment and sadness. So right there is an example of the embattled feelings I had to struggle with through the afternoon. As I smiled and chatted and caught up with relatives, at the same time my mind was working furiously, and I had to struggle not to burst into tears. I'm certainly glad I didn't, but my face must have registered difficult emotion. My eyes felt like a set of exposed cement dams holding back the floods. (How's that for straining for a metaphor? But honestly, even now they feel masklike, from all that numbed-out not-crying.)

I don't mean to sound like a drama queen. It was just such an odd situation. It always has been for me, just being a member of my thoroughly alienated side of the family, interfacing with the other branch that is so thoroughly cheerful and close-knit.

On top of all that, I felt acutely duplicitous, having of course to completely cover up my feelings, which are in conflict with an arguably more compelling familial connection.

I heard a bit more about the new baby, and learned about the wedding. And that was hard for me too - they had all attended. Not that I would ever have expected to be invited, I'm not close family as that. But why was I only now, months later, learning of it? Why hadn't she ever responded to my email back in June? It's hard not to read into that. If she has demonized me - can I blame her? And if so - what then? I cared for her, but at this point grimly note (the thought brings me no joy) that other stronger, conflicting, countervailing feelings have taken hold.

I talked with my aunt, all the while struggling with painful topics and emotions while trying to keep pleasantly composed. It was rough. Her daughter will help care for the baby; I couldn't help but think of my mother, who told me she never would, and didn't. My aunt asked me if I was in contact with my father. I told her not in well over ten years, that I wouldn't be, that he and the rest of my family had caused me nothing but pain and that at this point that was all behind me. So that was another difficult minefield. Then my aunt mentioned how they've dubbed someone with a Polish name (what in American is a girl's name, and so it struck me as particularly emasculating). This anecdote hit a nerve. I told her that I didn't think that was funny, he has a perfectly good name. Of course she went into denial mode ("he doesn't mind, he likes it"), and she repeated the ancient chestnut of how years ago my grandmother had misread my handwriting and thought that D's name was "Dong" - and that bit of demeaning shtick has lasted all this time. And I told her that I didn't think that was funny either. People who are suspect, outsiders, not quite part of the fold, get their identities tinkered with - is how I feel about it - they aren't allowed to simply be themselves.

Dearest, I just kept drinking glass after glass of icefilled pink wine all afternoon, in an effort to become numb. I know how absolutely terrible that sounds. I was having a hard time. Finally the wine did the trick, and we all sat down at a long banquet table that had been set up in the family room, and dined, and the food was delicious, and the talk light & convivial, so that was a whole lot easier to take than all the prying questions and painful topics.

(I confess that for many years I didn't like L, could never warm up to him - but now I really like him, and he saved the "oplatek" portion of the ritual from getting all very, very HEAVY - because I was getting uncomfortable about it [because in my family it was always an exceedingly painful, awkward, false, forced ritual to get through], and he instantly and empathetically saw my point of view, and understood, and suggested that we drop the heavy, portentous aspects -- and the meal all went very lightly & cheerfully after that - and so I was very grateful for his light touch there.)

Earlier too, I really enjoyed talking with A... she had started on the usual "so how's your writing" stuff - a hard subject for me, as you can imagine - but got the message when I said that it's of a private, fragile nature, and that I have no interest in publication. She changed the subject. And spoke very entertainingly of the wedding, and we also had a very interesting discussion about creativity & drive - that one of her sons is quite obsessed with putting things together -- and I think it's so exciting when there is that kind of passion for something. I told her that I believe that God put us on this earth, and gave us this earth and everything in it, for us reorder the various elements in all their realms, to play with them - put together words, assemble building blocks, plant a garden, paint a picture, compose music, etc., etc. -- just take everything there is and endlessly combine & recombine -- and the combinations are infinite. I believe that each of us is potentially creative - and the challenge is to discover what it is that inspires and drives us to tinker with the elements, to restlessly work at what new thing can be formed.

And then we sang carols, and one of the young boys played the piano -- and he too was a wonderful example of initiative and drive and passion. Last year, as far as I know, I don't think he could play the piano at all. But he had worked with his teacher over the past several months, to work up a repertoire of Polish & other carols. And he played them beautifully. He reminded me of when I was his age, starting out on piano, accompanying the trilling living room chorus -- that's how I'd started too, and here's the next generation embarking on that tradition.

I guess I'm still feeling a little emotionally out of sorts, it just seems so hopeless & pointless sometimes, so much strong feeling and for what. I slept alone, as usual, last night.

I wonder what 2012 will hold. More of the same, for me?

But hey, at least I looked good. At least one of my cousins went out of his way to mention it, which felt good. I told him I've been working very hard at it, walking every day, etc.

I heard about how hard you work, all the travel... calls from Paris... I wish I could one day get such a call.

I feel like a monster. I look nice on the outside, and I just have all these crazy feelings on the inside. I'm like the Vincent D'Onofrio character in Men in Black, whose insect-self kept trying to bust out of his human carapace. That's how split I'm feeling at the moment.

I try to be good, to be kind, and above all maybe - to be true - or certainly, to not be a hypocrite. But what was I yesterday, if not that? And I could feel it, this double self.

Overnight, I found myself wondering about another thing, anew. How is that I came on your radar at all? How is it that you ever found my posts? Even that much is an utter mystery to me -- after all the placid years of surely both you & me being no more than background figures to each other. So I puzzle over that -- at all this complexity, under the surface anyway, when there never was any before, except for the difficulty of being of my decimated family, as opposed to - of yours.

Dearest - I will post later today, as usual, and hope - after a walk, a workout, and all the rest - that I will be back to my more cheerful, certainly more composed "together" self.

The sun is coming out. A brand new day.

Kisses, darling, I suppose. Am I dreaming this whole thing?

Dearest, it's nine-thirty now. I had published this post an hour ago, forgetting to save a copy, and sure enough it crashed, I lost a chunk of it, and so I deleted the post, and reworked it.

I apologize for this post, really, that I'm dealing with painful topics, in such an obviously self-centered way. I think of you, and try to imagine your situation, and the news and events and everything else. I hope all is well & happy with you, and working out as best can be expected - no, better. And too, dearest, that you had a very merry Christmas, even if we couldn't all be together.

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